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Preparing for the MCAT


By Dr. James Phillips

The most important aspect of preparing for the MCAT is to do practice MCAT questions over and over and over, until they come out of your ears. The following is the recommended format:

1. Review all of your science notes from undergraduate school. Starting at least in January, it wouldn’t hurt to start in December or November, set a reasonable number of hours aside each week, to review all of your science notes. If you are taking some science courses concurrently that semester, like organic chemistry or cell biology or whatever, then just studying for that course is preparing for the MCAT, also. So getting an “A” or “B: grade in that course will help you prepare for the MCAT. Stick to the schedule for reviewing the notes from your science courses religiously!

2. Once a month do full-length practice MCAT under actual test conditions. Study with a partner(s), to avoid boredom and to stay focused. If you are not allowed to go out for a cup of coffee during the real exam, then don’t go out for a cup here. Time it so you finish each section in the allotted time, with enough time remaining to recheck the two or three difficult questions. Then use the MCAT as a study device.

For every question you miss make a flash card about that topic, so if it’s group A, Beta Hemolytic Streptococci for example, write tat on one side of the card and on the other side: gram positive cocci, causes rheumatic fever, causes scarlet fever, causes nephritis, treatment of choice is penicillin, if you’re allergic to penicillin, use erythromycin, does not cause infection in newborns (group B streptococci cause infection in newborns), there are 80 plus serotypes, etc.

3. On the weeks when you are not doing full-length practice MCAT, spend two to three hours doing practice MCAT questions out of one of the text books, such as Flowers, Betz, Princeton Review, or any other text books that have practice MCAT questions. They will be of help because their answers are narrative form, so that’s an additional study mechanism. Ideally, you will have done at least four practice MCATs before the exam.

4. If you do not do aerobics, make this a part of your program. Starting six weeks before the exam, do aerobics five times a week. It can be swimming, jogging, racquetball, tennis, skipping rope to music for 30-40 minutes, etc. If you fatigue during the exam, you are going to lose your powers of concentration, and not be as sharp mentally during the last 1 or 2 hours of the exam.

5. Two weeks before the exam, try to get seven hours of sleep each night – at least six.



  • You will have studied all your science notes;
  • You will have taken so many practice tests that MCAT is coming out of your ears;
  • You will be in good physical condition and rested for the exam.