N. Sanchez

Taking as many practice tests as possible helped N. Sanchez score a 515 the second time he took the MCAT exam, a significant increase from his first score.

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Undergraduate institution: Johns Hopkins University
Major: Biology
Exam score: 515
Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems: 130
Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems: 131
Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior: 127
Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills: 127
Time spent preparing: 12-13 weeks; 8 hours/day

 

 

Overall study approach

I used the AAMC Sample Test, Khan Academy, old books from The Princeton Review for chemistry and physics, newer ExamKrackers books for psychology and biology, and online articles for Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills [CARS]. I took 3 Kaplan practice tests, 2 Next Step practice tests, 2 ExamKrackers practice tests, and the AAMC Sample Test.

I had taken the exam before so I focused mostly on reading through textbooks and taking good notes. One thing that was particularly helpful was that any time I thought of a topic, such as electricity and magnetism, I would open my notebook and write down as much as possible—every equation and important concept—and then I would refer back to the textbooks to see if I was correct.

Top tips for preparation

  1. Read a lot. Even books for pleasure. Always have a book with you to read during a break. I thought this was the most helpful for the CARS section because I was a slow reader.
  2. Don’t get comfortable just going over the sections that you know you are good at. Make sure you spend enough time on the parts that make you uncomfortable or are more challenging for you.
  3. Take the practice exams seriously, but don’t treat them like the end of the world if you don’t score well. Use them as a way to improve.
  4. Keep going. It’s going to get really stressful because there’s so much to cover and you may feel lost, but it gets better.

What types of exam prep were the most useful?

The practice tests were the most important. You can’t take too many practice tests.

Would you have done anything differently?

I wish I would have used varying sources to prepare for the Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior [PSBB] section. I didn’t watch the Khan Academy videos, and I wish I would’ve. A lot of people online were saying that the videos were good.

 

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