Must-know tips/factoids for the MCAT?
April 21, 2010 11:26 AM   Subscribe

I'm taking the MCAT on Friday and have been studying for a few months. What I want to accomplish over the next day or two is a bit of cramming. What are some must-know strategies/simple facts that are very likely to be useful on Friday's MCAT?

A good example seems to be a brief overview of the main hormones of the body-- every single practice MCAT that I've taken (5 in total) seems to have some mention of hormones such as Aldosterone.

What else is there that is almost guaranteed to be on the exam?
posted by phaedrus441 to Education (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You're taking it Friday? Honestly, this probably is not the answer you're wanting, but I would say not to cram at this point. Just rest. Stabilize your diet and your sleep. Exercise.

It's a long test, and a stressful administration of it. Most of the test emphasizes synthesis of ideas over rote memorization, and you're unlikely to pick up anything new and vital at this point that you don't already know. Better to focus on ensuring that you are in your best, least-clouded frame of mind for the actual exam.

And good luck!
posted by kaseijin at 2:26 PM on April 21, 2010

I've never taken the MCAT, but I do study the cognitive neuroscience of learning and test taking.

Seconding the not cramming bit. Sure, study, but the most important thing right now is to make sure your brain is in tip-top shape for the test. If you do study, make it review of things you've already learned, to strengthen those memories.

This means:
- Get lots of sleep (declarative memory is much better after consolidation during sleep) [This is the single most important thing you can do to do well. Cognitive performance goes WAY downhill if you're sleep deprived. Start going to bed early *tonight.]
- Eat well, and make sure to have a good breakfast friday morning (protein, not too sugary; you don't want to crash in the middle of the test)
- Give yourself time to relax between bouts of studying.
- Don't worry! If you've had issues with test anxiety in the past, practice relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises. If you're too busy worrying about doing well, you won't be able to focus on actually doing well.

Good luck!
posted by dantekgeek at 2:46 PM on April 21, 2010

Well, I took the last paper and pencil MCAT.

I would say don't cram, but some people remember those I did. I remember I did GI hormones the day before and it was actually useful.

Things I'd say not to do = don't listen to music or watch somethign that you might start thinking of.

Also, if you don't have anything specific to more tests. Either Kaplan/TPR --> TPR = better, search for a torrent about it or buy a book of questions. Make sure you've done the official ones that have been posted on the website.

If you haven't, read the ExamCrakers Verbal's like 30 pages...but is worth the read. I was scoring really low (three tests --> 3,4,3) then read that book, the very next test (14,14...) and 14's from then on. On the real test, my verbal was a 13...which I could live with. :P (I'm in med school now).

Be sure to sleep early on the night of your test...make sure someone else drives you if you can...the day before, travel there as if it was the morning of your test...nothing worse than getting lost. I took my test on my school's campus...but had a friend who registered late and had to go to a different school...and was late.

Anyway, message me if you need sources or anything. I can try to help the best I can.

p.s. search google for digital flash cards too if you'd like. There might be some you can do that would be beneficial.
posted by doctorwhitecoat at 3:57 PM on April 21, 2010

Thanks guys! I've finished all the official practice tests, and I've improved a lot since beginning studying!

Since I've been hitting my target (34-36), I think I'll follow everyone's advice and just take it easy until the exam Friday (though I will review a tiny bit tomorrow-- I just can't help it).

Just FYI, but I used ExamKrackers classroom prep (which is basically a babysitter getting you to read and practice the ExamKrackers books...), and really liked it.

Now, how am I supposed to make myself fall asleep early on Thursday???
posted by phaedrus441 at 4:09 PM on April 21, 2010

Valerian root tea or get pzizz meditation software. If you give the second one a try, an honest'll fall asleep within 20 matter how stressed.
posted by doctorwhitecoat at 4:32 PM on April 21, 2010 [3 favorites]

Also melatonin.
posted by kaseijin at 5:36 PM on April 21, 2010

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