Taylor Sanders

Taylor used an array of approaches to prepare for the MCAT exam. She recommends Khan Academy, which was her “best friend” when she was studying.

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Undergraduate institution: Xavier University of Louisiana
Major: Biology Pre-med
Exam score: 506
    Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems: 129
    Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems: 128
    Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior: 124
    Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills: 125
Time spent preparing: 3 weeks, 12+ hours a day.



 

Overall study approach

I started by reviewing the AAMC’s What's on the MCAT? online tool and familiarizing myself with the topics on the exam. I also searched for online videos, watched Khan Academy videos and took notes, used the Premed HQ website, reviewed class notes, and used the AAMC Practice Exam 1. I listened to online materials on my way to the gym and used hard copy materials and wrote notes to highlight, reinforce, and retain information.

I didn’t spend as much time on the sciences because those were my favorite subjects, and I didn’t have to. But, I had to really pay attention to the social sciences because I hadn’t taken any psychology and sociology classes. I paid attention to those Khan Academy videos and asked my sister, who was taking sociology, about what she was studying. I would also talk about whatever I learned with my family. I had some very interesting discussions. Both my parents are pharmacists so it was helpful. I also tutored classmates on some of the subject areas to get in extra review.

Top tips for preparation

  1. Relax.
  2. Make a schedule for yourself no matter what the time span is. I set a schedule of things I wanted to accomplish each day. I would keep going until I’d finish that topic. I’d try to stay on schedule.
  3. Go to class. Don’t blow it off. If you’re in college and you’re taking the courses on stuff that’s going to be on the MCAT, go to the course and pay attention to the stuff that might be on the MCAT. Make sure you understand what you’re learning.
  4. Have fun while you’re studying. Make it interesting to you: When I did that, it made things more fascinating and made me want to study and pay attention more. For example, with sociology, it made me think about how people work. I made the content more applicable to myself. I could say to myself, “I’m not reading this because it’s on the exam and I have to, but because I’m trying to gain knowledge as a whole.”

Traps to avoid

  1. Don’t cram. It’s not going to work.
  2. Don’t try to do too much in one day. Don’t overwork your brain. There were certain days when I couldn’t do any more. I’d tell myself that I’d have to stop. Know your limits. When your brain is full, you need a break.

What types of exam prep were the most useful?

In my classes sometimes my teachers would emphasize that this stuff could pop up on the MCAT. So number one is definitely going to those classes. As far as refreshing my memory and updating, Khan Academy was the best. Khan Academy was my best friend. I probably watched all those videos.

Did you encounter any challenges or obstacles, and how did you overcome them?

I guess my biggest obstacle was not wanting to study. It was summertime and it was beautiful and I didn’t want to study. I had to tell myself that my end goal was to be a doctor, something I’ve been passionate about since I was a child. My mother used to tell me, “You do what you have to do, so that one day you can do what you want to do.”

Would you have done anything differently?

I wish I had started studying earlier. I was telling myself, “I’m going to start studying,” but with classes, I never had a chance to set that schedule up. I could’ve studied further in advance, so that it wouldn’t have been a 12-hour-a-day kind of thing. I also wish I could’ve taken more full-length tests. The AAMC Practice Exam 1 gave me a feel for how the questions would be presented. I was glad to see that—how the questions were—before test day, because I would’ve been completely surprised otherwise.


 

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These students’ testimonials were selected because they represent interesting stories. The views expressed herein are those of the students and do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of the AAMC. Any reference in these testimonials to a specific third-party product, process, or service does not constitute or imply an endorsement by the AAMC of the product, process, or service or its supplier.

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