Studying for the MCAT: Day 3

After working through the first couple of Berkeley Review lectures, I’ve realized a couple of things.  First of all, every test-taker needs to develop a study-plan which is tailored and suited to the individual.  For the most part, I did not do this and was intending to use an approach favored by the denizens of SDN.  After a couple of days, I’ve concluded that the Berkeley Review materials are too in-depth for me.  In fact, on several occasions, I found myself referring to the ExamKrackers lectures in order to figure out what the hell the Berkeley authors were talking about.  Secondly, for the most part, I already understand most of the science pretty well.  What I need are lots of practice problems and passages that I can do (part of the appeal of the Berkeley materials is the huge amount of practice passages that are included in it).  So, to get the best of both worlds, I sat down and worked out a study schedule largely from scratch trying to target that particular area.

Anyway, after a couple of days banging my head against the wall, I decided to bail on the BR materials and keep using EK instead.  For the next two months, I’ll be reading and reviewing those – three lectures a week – along with passages from the BR books which coincide.  There are also some 30-minute exams over the lectures which I’ll be doing altogether as one big timed exam on the weekend, and then I’ll spend another two days reviewing the mini-exams as well as working more passages and reviewing those too.

I should be busy, but it’s a more coherent than what I was going to do and also leaves me a lot of time to work problems, which is what I think will help me a lot more.  Once I’m done with content review, I’ll spend the last month until the exam doing timed full-length AAMC exams and reviewing them, while I finish up the remaining BR passages.  I’m excited – it feels a lot more realistic and useful than what I was going to do beforehand.

The other thing which I’ve learned is that it can be really difficult, if not impossible, to know your standing without taking a timed practice exam.  It doesn’t really make a lot of sense to try and extrapolate from a couple of passages on the same topic what your score on the entire exam will be 3 months hence.  I did that the other night and was able to work myself into a frenzy, convinced that I was going to wind up with a 21 on the MCAT.  I have no idea how I became this neurotic, but I’m going to try and ignore scores until I start taking actual, timed exams.  Until then, I promise I will not visit SDN.

Edit:  I cannot imagine taking an exam like the MCAT without studying.


4 Responses

  1. Thanks for sharing! That was a very fast yet good assessment. Good Luck on your MCAT study plan!

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience! What you’ve described sounds doable. I hope it helps you be as successful as you hope to be. 🙂

  3. You just learned the most important lesson in MCAT preparation: stay the hell away from SDN…

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