Studying the MCAT as a non-traditional student
Medical schools use the MCAT as the standard for rating students making it the most critical test in your medical career. You, therefore, need proper preparation that calls for extra focus and effort. Studying for the MCAT is challenging for a non-traditional student as there may be work and family situations that leave them with minimal time to study. The following expert tips will help you prepare for the MCAT as you navigate your medical career.
Make a study plan
Creating a study plan is essential as it gives you a starting point depending on which level you are in the medical field. Non-traditional students with a strong background in science may find it easier to study for the MCAT than students who are new to the whole idea of medical science, but both still need to take time to evaluate how long they believe it will take to properly prepare.
Make sure to book a test date that allows enough time to prepare for the test. Admittedly, it is easier for students with a recent undergraduate degree or pre-requisite courses as they still have helpful knowledge for their preparation for the MCAT. However, students can still take core science courses or the post-bacc program to introduce (or re-introduce) themselves to the pre-requisite sciences.
Hire an MCAT prep tutor
With the test some months away, you may lack the motivation to start studying. This makes an MCAT prep tutor vital as he/she provides the motivation you need to get things started. A tutor will help make you accountable for your time, which will increase your productivity. In addition, studying with a partner will help keep you from feeling discouraged by any problems or weak areas you encounter as you can ask questions and have unfamiliar concepts explained to you. A tutor also gives you an audience that is willing to take the study walk with you, allowing you to master the concepts through active interaction.
Familiarize yourself with the MCAT concepts
It is essential to investigate what is likely to be tested on every topic and sub-topic by using the test blueprint. This strategy helps you to understand the areas that need your attention which ones you can safely skip. You should also take MCAT practice tests to equip yourself with basic knowledge of what you have not quite mastered and boost your confidence as well. If you’re using an MCAT prep tutor, they will usually have practice tests and study guide to help you. Taking practice tests is like a reality check that will help you monitor your progress and learn which areas need more attention and mastery.
Maximize your time
Studying for the MCAT requires much more time than you may believe you have, and so you need to be keen on time management. Studying for long hours does not guarantee success. Instead, you need to come up with a strategy that allows you to cover significant content in a short time frame. Take advantage of your work breaks, evenings, and early mornings to meet your MCAT prep tutor or to have some alone time to study. A strict timetable is essential in maximizing your study time.
Planning on taking the MCAT ahead of the actual time is also helpful as the application time frame to a medical school is the same for all the students, and it takes up to one month to have your scores. Remember to take into consideration and evaluate all the obligations you have alongside studying so you can make the necessary adjustments.