Undergraduate institution: Creighton University
Major: Biology and Psychology
Exam score: 510
Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems: 127
Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems: 127
Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior: 131
Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills: 125
Time spent preparing: 3.5 months.
Overall study approach
I used the AAMC Practice Exam 1, Khan Academy, full-length tests from The Princeton Review®, and content books from Kaplan® and The Princeton Review®. I targeted areas that I knew I struggled with in class. For example, for physics, I focused a lot on topics like mechanics and Newtonian motion and went from there. And then I lightly brushed over topics like biology and biochemistry that were already familiar to me. If I got tired of reading, I’d watch Khan Academy videos.
Top Tips for Preparation
- This is advice I got from someone else that was extremely beneficial: Take as many full-length tests as possible. I’d taken so many full-length tests that the real thing didn’t feel too huge for me. I knew exactly what to expect. That was probably one of the biggest reasons why I was successful.
- Study what you don’t enjoy first and study it the most. I love psychology and sociology, so I always wanted to read those books and ignore physics, and my parents always reminded me that it’s more important for me to master the physics concepts I struggle with than to read the psychology and sociology concepts I’m already comfortable with. That was really good advice.
- Go talk to the professors who taught you specific subjects if you have questions. When I had organic chemistry questions, I’d go to my organic chemistry professor and ask him why I got a question wrong. It was useful because he would show me errors in my reasoning, which helped me with future questions. It was really helpful to be able to explain why a certain answer is wrong.
Traps to Avoid
- Don’t just take full-length tests. Spend as much time, if not more, going over every answer even if you got it correct. In the beginning, I enjoyed just taking a full-length test and then moving on to the next one, but that’s a problem because you keep getting the same things wrong and your test scores don’t get any higher. The not-so-fun part of going through the 200 questions is the most helpful part.
- Don’t make a rash decision to take an earlier test or later test. Towards the middle, I was tempted to push the test back because I felt anxious, like maybe I wasn’t prepared or if I pushed back four weeks, I could get a better score. But people who took the MCAT® told me not to do that because the likelihood of one month dramatically increasing your score is very low. You might be thinking that you’re going to bomb it, but keep the date.
- Make your own study plan. Don’t necessarily strictly follow someone else’s calendar or a specific company’s calendar. I feel that most people, by the time they’re taking the test, know how they study best, so take the time to schedule and really sit down and set a realistic timeline and actions. I know people who followed strict calendars, and it didn’t seem to be as beneficial. It might be best to make your own schedule.
What types of exam prep were the most useful?
The Kaplan® books were the most useful. I hadn’t taken certain courses, like general chemistry, for three years. So, I had to go back to the concepts I might have forgotten. I bought all the content books offered by Kaplan®, from chemistry all the way to psychology.
Did you encounter any challenges or obstacles, and how did you overcome them?
The biggest one is balancing coursework, which is just as important, with study time. There were a lot of times where it was hard to know what to prioritize as the semester got busier. Tests, quizzes, and papers bunch up. So for example, if there was a crazy week of homework and I couldn’t put in the necessary hours to study for the MCAT, I’d double up the second week. So instead of doing the three to four hours, I’d do five to six hours.
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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.