The Ultimate Guide to MCAT Self Study

The MCAT is a difficult hurdle that every pre-med student must jump through. Most students will argue that this is possibly the worst part of the entire pre-med journey.

In the past, The MCAT and I didn’t get along. I struggled for many months studying for this exam with little guidance. My first attempt at the MCAT resulted in a score below 500. 

This was devastating, to say the least. 

I spent 3 months studying 40+ hours a week only to receive a mediocre score!

The problem was that I was studying the wrong way. You can spend hundreds of hours studying for the MCAT and if you are not studying as the test makers intended, you can also end up wasting your time.

You see, there is a lot of conflicting information on the internet. Some students will claim that one strategy got them into the 90th percentile, while other students will claim a conflicting strategy did the same. 

I personally followed a study guide that claimed to be the “silver bullet” of MCAT study prep. Sure this guide might have gotten some student’s competitive scores but it did not work for me (Despite the fact that I followed it religiously!)

Is there a secret to doing well on the MCAT? Something that can work with every type of premed student?

Yes, there is. But it’s not really a secret. In fact, almost every study strategy I found shared a common theme. 

Practice makes perfect. 

Yup, it’s really that simple. The key to doing well is repeating practice passage after practice passage. Every other aspect of your studying is meant to supplement the ultimate goal of doing enough practice problems to really understand how the MCAT likes to test us

In this ultimate MCAT study guide, you will find out exactly how to do the following:

  1. Set up a study schedule that is effective, efficient, and proven to be successful.
  2. Properly do practice passages/problems and review them correctly.
  3. Reinforce difficult concepts with focused studying.
  4. Understand how the MCAT test makers think and how they want you to solve problems.

Finally, this guide is not a “silver bullet.” I will be brutally honest, following this guide requires lots of work. There is very little passive studying. You will be actively studying and working your brain. Most days you will feel brain dead at the end of the day. 

But, if you follow this guide and work hard, you will be successful on the MCAT. You will find that the days get easier and easier as you condition yourself. And eventually, doing MCAT passages will be enjoyable! 

Without further ado, here is the ultimate guide to MCAT self-prep. 

Why Self-Prep?

Why Self-Prep?

First, let’s address an important question, should you take a course (whether that’s in class, online, or outlined in some sort of structured manner) or self-study for the MCAT? 

Further Reading: Are MCAT prep courses really worth it?

In my opinion, self-prep is the way to go. Here are 3 good reasons why:

#1 The Cost

This is the most obvious benefit of doing MCAT self-prep. MCAT tutoring companies cost a pretty penny. For an in-class course, you can expect to pay $2,500 to $3,000.

Self-studying for the MCAT involves much less cost upfront. Yes, MCAT prep books can cost several hundred dollars and of course and you will need to purchase all the AAMC practice tests. But this does not cost nearly as much.

However, there are more cost-effective ways of obtaining your MCAT prep books (purchasing them used on Amazon, borrowing from the school library, etc.). In addition to this, you can always sell your books on Amazon or Ebay when you’re finished in order to make some of your money back.

#2 In-person MCAT Prep Classes Are Not Tailored To The Individual

An in-person MCAT prep course will have a specific curriculum they have their students follow. Although these curriculums are well designed and provide a lot of valuable content, they are not custom-tailored to every student. 

The reality is, everyone learns differently. Some pre-med students will study better with pictures and graphs, others prefer real-world examples as comparisons. 

Not only does everyone learn differently but everyone learns at a different pace. Some people need a more prolonged schedule while others could do fine with a shorter more intense schedule. 

With a self-prep MCAT course, you can customize the length of your studies to your own pace and study habits. 

#3 When You Self-prep You Focus On The Important Material

MCAT companies that offer all-inclusive MCAT study packages place a lot of emphasis on using their own material for content review and practice exams. 

Although most of the MCAT prep companies offer great material (As I outline in my best MCAT practice resources post), none of them will completely match the accuracy of the AAMC’s official MCAT prep.

Whatever your MCAT study plan is, you need to make sure you practice everything the AAMC has to offer. They are the creators of the exam after all!

Should You Disregard MCAT Prep Courses Altoghter?

Absolutely not! Every MCAT prep company offers self-paced online courses which can be great. My opinion is self-prep is better than in-class courses but that doesn’t exclude online courses.

Important information regarding the MCAT:

Now that you are ready to start formulating your own MCAT self-prep study plan, let’s go over some important MCAT information as well as factors to consider before you start studying. 

#1 The MCAT prerequisites

The MCAT prerequisites are the courses you take in college which are covered on the MCAT. This is very similar to the pre-med prerequisites.

Unlike the pre-med prerequisites, the MCAT prerequisites are not technically required in order to take the exam. However, there is a list of courses that are recommended to do well on the MCAT. 

Here is a list of the MCAT prerequisites:

  • General chemistry: Two semesters
  • Biochemistry: One or Two semesters depending on your school. Most universities will offer a “biology major” version of Biochemistry which is less intense than the “chemistry major” version.
  • Organic Chemistry: Two semesters
  • General Biology: Two semesters
  • General Physics: Two semesters
  • Introductory Physiology: One semester
  • Introductory Sociology: One semester

#2 Upper-level Biology Courses

Upper-level courses are not needed to do well on the MCAT. That being said, if you have the chance to do some upper-level biology course, this may make the MCAT a little bit of an easier experience.

MCAT passages are comprised primarily of scientific articles. The goal is to uncover the basic premed principles that the MCAT is trying to hide within the advanced verbiage to answer the questions. 

Therefore, taking upper-level biology courses can help you develop a better understanding of the complex scientific concepts portrayed in the MCAT passages so that you can discover what the test takers are trying to say faster. 

If you have the time to do some upper-level biology courses, here are the courses we recommend:

  • Microbiology
  • Physiology
  • Anatomy
  • Molecular biology
  • Genetics
  • Endocrinology

Once again, these courses are not required but only recommended if the timing makes sense. Don’t push your test back a year in order to fit these classes in.

Ultimately, any extra biology class you take will give you a better understanding of the key concepts which are all over the MCAT.

Upper-level physics and chemistry courses are not recommended due to the fact that the amount of physical sciences on the MCAT is minor and your general chemistry and physics courses are more than enough to do well on the MCAT. 

#3 The Breakdown Of The MCAT

The MCAT is broken down into 4 sections:

Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems

This section is 95 minutes long with a mix of passage-based questions and discrete problems totaling 59 questions. Here is the breakdown per subject that is covered by this section:

  • 30% General Chemistry
  • 15% Organic Chemistry
  • 25% Biochemistry
  • 25% Physics
  • 5% General Biology

Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS)

This section is 90 minutes with 53 passage-based questions. There are 9 passages total. There is no science in this section but most pre-med students have the most trouble scoring well on CARS. In order to do well here, you must practice lots and lots of passages (Here are our recommended CARS practice resources!)

Here is how CARS is broken down:

  • 50% Humanities (Philosophy, religion, literature, etc.)
  • 50% Social Sciences (History, Economics, Anthropology, etc.)

Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems

This section is 95 minutes long with a mix of passage-based questions and discrete problems totaling 59 questions. The breakdown is as follows:

  • 65% General Biology
  • 25% Biochemistry
  • 10% General and Organic Chemistry

Check out our favorite MCAT Biology prep books!

Physiological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior

This section is 95 minutes long with a mix of passage-based questions and discrete problems totaling 59 questions. The subjects included in this section:

  • 65% Introductory Psychology 
  • 30% Introductory Sociology
  • 5% General Biology

#4 Pick A Test Date

Picking an MCAT test date is a very important step.

Let me tell you a little story about myself that explains why it is very important you pick an MCAT test date ahead of time. 

The first time I purchased and signed up for an MCAT test date was about 1 month before the date I picked. I was studying for the MCAT during the Summer and planned on taking the MCAT during one of the last available days. 

To my surprise, every single testing center in and around my city (I live in a very large city) was completely booked up. I couldn’t believe it.

The only option I had was about a 2-hour drive away. 

Going to a testing center that was 2 hours away would mean either waking up way too early or getting a hotel room the night before and sleeping in a foreign bed. Both scenarios were not ideal. 

15 days prior to my test date I checked to see if there were any cancellations and I was lucky to find an open seat at a nearby location. I paid the $155 to reschedule for that location and took the MCAT 15 minutes away from me instead. Instead of paying the normal $315 exam fee, I paid the $470 procrastinator exam fee. 

Moral of the story: All of this could have been avoided if I just signed up earlier. Don’t procrastinate on scheduling an exam date. Seats will fill up. 

#5 When is the best time to take the MCAT?

When is the best time to take the MCAT?

I wrote a detailed post on how to decide when to take the MCAT. Through this post, I walk you through all the factors that you should consider when deciding when you should study and when you should take the MCAT.

Here are 4 questions you need to consider when making this decision:

  1. When do you plan on applying to Medical School? This is important because before a medical school can consider you for an interview, they need to have your MCAT score. If you take your exam in July, make sure you understand that your MCAT scores won’t process for 1 month.
  2. When do you plan on being finished with your MCAT prerequisites? Also very important. From day 1 as a premed student, you should already be taking the MCAT prerequisites. However, there are a lot of premed courses and sometimes we have to leave a specific class for senior year. Plan on taking the most important MCAT prerequisites before taking the MCAT.
  3. Can you balance MCAT studying and being a full-time student? I know I couldn’t. Be honest with yourself. If you are the kind of person that needs to focus on one task until it is finished, then you should consider taking the MCAT outside of school.
  4. Will you need to retake the MCAT? Very important to think about. If you decide to take the MCAT September 14th and you are not happy with your performance, you won’t have the option to take another exam until next year. Check out this years test dates here.

We recommend taking the MCAT during the Summer. During the summer you have 3 months of no responsibilities so that you can devote a full-time workweek to just studying for the MCAT.

Lots of pre-med students have studied for the MCAT while in school, but keep in mind, you should be studying for the MCAT like it is a full-time job. If you are taking classes full-time and trying to study for the MCAT, you could easily burn out. 

Alternatively, students have spread out their study schedule for a longer period of time (I’ve seen up to a year!) in order to reduce the amount of time they need to study during the week. This is still not ideal because you are more likely to forget the information the longer you study. 

If you block out 90 days of your summer and follow our MCAT self-prep study guide, you will see amazing results! 

#6 Retaking The MCAT? How Will You Change Your Approach?

Retaking The MCAT? How Will You Change Your Approach?

Having to retake the MCAT seems to be one of the most panic provoking concepts for pre-meds. For some reason, people believe that retaking the MCAT automatically hurts your chances of acceptance into Medical School. Rest assured, this is NOT the case. 

Medical schools like to see determination and improvement. Both of these qualities have proven to show success in rigorous programs, so it only makes sense that medical schools will be looking out for these traits as well. 

When you retake the MCAT and improve your score, this is telling medical school committees that you will always seek to improve yourself and that you won’t give up when things get too difficult. 

The key though is to make sure you improve your score!

Further Reading: How many times can you take the MCAT?

Ask yourself the following questions in order to make a better study plan this time around:

  1. Did you have enough time to go over every question on the MCAT?
    1. This is probably the number 1 thing pre-med’s struggle with. Time Management is key to doing well on the MCAT. The only way to improve this skill is by practicing, make sure your new study plan is practice problem heavy (Like our study plan!)
  2. Did you lose points because of failure to recall things that should have been memorized?
    1. The vast majority of the MCAT requires a good understanding of the pre-med basic sciences and an ability to problem solve.  However, there is a small portion that requires straight memorization. We wrote a post on exactly what you should memorize for the MCAT.
  3. Did you give yourself enough time the study the first time?
    1. Studying for the MCAT is time intensive. A lot of the time, students will try to cram MCAT studying into their already busy college schedules. Maybe you should consider studying for the MCAT over the summer when you can devote a full-time schedule to it. 
  4. Did you do enough practice exams?
    1. One again, practice is essential to doing well on the MCAT. I recommend taking at least 9 practice exams before your test date. It sounds like a lot but, if you commit to taking so many practice exams, you will find it easier and easier to get through each one.
  5. Did you take all the MCAT prerequisites?
    1. The MCAT prerequisites are the pre-med courses that are tested on the MCAT. Here is a list of pre-med classes you should take before the MCAT:
    2. 2 semesters of General Biology
    3. 2 semesters of General Chemistry
    4. 2 semesters of Organic Chemistry
    5. 2 semesters of General Physics
    6. 1 semester of Biochemistry (Note: Most universities will have a biochemistry class for chemistry majors and an easier biochemistry class for biology majors. Take the easier class, 2 semesters of chemistry major Biochemistry is overkill!)
    7. 1 semester of General Psychology
    8. 1 semester of General Sociology

It’s important that you are honest with yourself when reviewing the questions above. The vast majority of the time, pre-meds fall into one of these catagories. 

Doing poorly on the MCAT does not mean you are not good enough for medical school. It simply means that you were studying the wrong way. Figure out what you are doing wrong, and you will get a competitive score. 

#7 Test Day

When preparing for the MCAT, you need to know exactly what to expect on test day. There should be no surprises when it comes to the actual format of the exam. 

Important notes for MCAT Test Day:

  • Make sure you have a Government issued ID, Driver’s license, or Passport. This is the most important thing you need to remember for your MCAT Test Day. The testing center will not let you take the MCAT without one form of these IDs. 
  • Plan to spend around 8 hours at the testing center. The exam itself is 7.5 hours long. You will need to arrive around 7:30am at the testing center in order to do their check-in process. This can take 30 minutes depending on how many people are there.
  • Breaks are short, use them wisely! You get two 10 minute breaks and one 30 minute break. Take into consideration that you will have to check-in and check-out of the testing room every time you leave for a break. This process can take up to 3 minutes sometimes. They have to wave a wand in front of you, show that your pockets are empty, and finger print you. Sometimes the check-in process can get backed up as well! Plan to spend your breaks quickly using the restroom and chowing down on a snack. 
  • You can only use testing center provided foam earplugs and headsets. You will want some sort of noise canceling during the exam because most likely there will be some other test taker with the sniffles or a fidgety foot. The testing center provides a headset (essentially earmuffs) and you can also ask for foam earplugs. You cannot bring your own earplugs even if they are prepackaged.
  • You sign a non-disclosure before taking the MCAT. Legally you are never allowed to talk about specific things on the MCAT exam you just took. In my experience it is normal for pre-med students to discuss specifics on a difficult exam after they take it. This is because most people want to know how they did on questions they were struggling with before the actual results come back. Don’t do this for the MCAT. After you finish the exam, leave and don’t think about it again until your results come back in a month. 
  • Do not talk to ANYONE during the exam breaks. This goes along with the above pointer, you aren’t allowed to talk about the MCAT and this is when the proctors are actually listening to you. Don’t risk getting in trouble. Also, there is no benefit to hearing about how another test taker felt about his or her exam! This won’t affect your score but it might psych you out for the next section. 
  • Carbo-load the night before. The MCAT is like a marathon! Runners do this in order to have extra energy storage for the big day. 
  • Don’t cut back on coffee if you are already dependent on it. The MCAT is not the time to test how you perform without stimulants. Drink that coffee if you normally do!
  • Make sure your drinks have lids WITH a cover for the mouth piece. Personally, I was not allowed to bring in my coffee because it was in a yeti which we all know doesn’t provide a cover for the mouth piece. I ended up pouring my coffee into an empty plastic water bottle I found in my car because that stuff was ESSENTIAL to me doing well.
  • Drive to the MCAT testing center the day before. The MCAT starts at 8am. The standard work day also starts at 8am. Make sure you know how this location is affected by rush hour! 
  • Check to make sure there are not any major events occurring on the same day and same location as your MCAT. This never happened to me but someone I know didn’t realize she scheduled her MCAT test on the same day as a major sporting event. She basically got stuck trying to get to her MCAT exam the morning of. Major sporting events can literally shut down roads in certain areas!

The Med School Pursuit’s MCAT Self Study Plan

Overview Of Med School Pursuit's MCAT Study Plan

Our self-prep study plan has a 2 phase approach. These 2 phases involve a period of content review and a period of practice tests.

Books/Resources You Will Need To Purchase For This Study Plan

Here are the resources we recommend for this study schedule.

Content Review

For your content review keep it simple and go with Kaplan’s MCAT Review. Really any major MCAT company’s books will do but we found Kaplan to be slightly better than the rest.

Don’t overthink this step. Just go with Kaplan.

Practice Problems

I have listed the practice resources you should obtain from highest priority to lowest. How many of these sources you purchase will depend on how many practice tests you take.

After you run out of full length exams, you will make "custom" full length MCAT tests by piecemealing stand alone passages into 60ish question sections. More on that in Phase 2.
  1. Entire AAMC practice data base (This includes their full lengths, section banks, question packs, and half test from their Official Guide to the MCAT)
  2. Blueprint MCAT practice tests
  3. Kaplan MCAT practice tests (Included with the complete Kaplan book set)

Phase 1

The goal for the first phase is to make sure you have a strong enough foundation on all the subjects that are covered on the MCAT.

All of the material on the MCAT should be covered in your premed coursework so theoretically you could get by skipping phase 1 and moving on to phase 2. However, everyone’s situation is different and it’s possible you need a refresher.

You need to be completely honest with yourself, are there subjects that you should review again?

Here is how you should go about planning which subjects you need to review:

First, determine the subjects you need a refresher on vs the ones that are fresh and you have a solid understanding of.

Here are the courses that the MCAT covers:

  • Organic and inorganic chemistry
  • Physics
  • Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Basis research methods and statistics
  • Psychology
  • Sociology

I recommend doing a content review on anything you haven’t had a class on in over a year. But it is really important you are honest with yourself. If you barely got by in one of these subjects, make sure you add them to your list of subjects to review.

Second, plan out how much time you are going to need to study these subjects.

Everyone’s MCAT study schedule is going to be different. If you are a full-time student, you will need more time to study. If you are studying over the summer (Which is what we recommend) you can get it done faster.

Your content review should be fast. You already learned these subjects in college, now is time for review.

For each subject, I would not spend more than 2 weeks reviewing (assuming you are studying at least 30+ hours per week)

Block out enough time to efficiently review the content. The second phase is more important, so make sure you allow yourself more time for that.

Third, purchase the books you need.

Even if you are not reviewing every subject, go ahead and purchase a complete MCAT book set. You will need that material to refer back to when you are reviewing your practice tests (That’s phase 2).

We recommend Kaplan’s Complete MCAT Review.

Finally, sit down and cover all of the necessary content.

Go through each subject you determined you need to brush up on. Make sure you are efficient. If there is certain material you are very comfortable with, skip it.

Only do the practice problems at the end of each section in each book. At this point, you don’t need to do extra problems. There will be plenty of that in phase 2.

Important notes:

  • Your review doesn’t have to be perfect. In the second phase, you will be going back to your books and reviewing topics you missed on practice tests.
  • I wouldn’t worry about doing/creating flashcards in phase 1 since that will be part of the phase 2 plan.

Phase 2

Phase 2 is when you will really nail down the MCAT concepts. If you take this part seriously and do everything we recommend, you will see major improvements in your MCAT score.

As I mentioned in the introduction, the key is practice makes perfect. Before taking the MCAT you want to make sure you have done as many practice tests and practice passages as possible.

But practice alone is not going to cut it. You also need to make sure you are properly reviewing and improving. 

You will spend more time reviewing the practice tests you took than taking the test itself. 

I recommend reading this article on how to effectively review MCAT practice tests prior to beginning this study guide.

MCAT Self Prep: The 7 Step Process

Our study guide for the MCAT can be broken down into 7 steps. This is a rinse and repeat formula to make you a master of this exam.

Step 1: Practice test or set of practice passages (equivalent to a full-length test)

This is actually the easy part. Take a full-length MCAT test or make a “custom MCAT practice test.”

You can make one of these custom MCAT practice tests by putting together enough practice problems from MCAT practice problem books or the AAMC’s questions banks to make the equivalent of a full-length practice test. 

Below is an example of how I used the AAMC’s question packs and section banks to make “custom” MCAT tests. 

MCAT practice tests

When you take the practice test, make sure you actually time yourself and take breaks like you would on the actual MCAT exam.

Step 2: Review the MCAT practice test/set of practice passages that you just did

This is the most important step. Make sure you are thorough. Go over every question both wrong and right. 

While reviewing every passage or discrete problem, you will be doing 4 things:

  • Figure out why the question is right or wrong and making sure you understand why that question was right or wrong. 
  • Figuring out why you got the question wrong and writing the reason down.
    • Was it due to lack of knowledge on the subject tested? You didn’t understand the passage? You ran out of time? 
  • Writing down the broad subjects you struggled with. 
  • Making a flashcard(s) which addresses the specific topic/concept you struggled with. 

Make sure you are recording the information above!

I understand that this can be easier said than done. A lot of the time, MCAT passages cover an array of premed concepts that are hidden in scientific articles.

Sometimes it may not be clear what subject they are covering. Or sometimes they may be covering multiple subjects at once. 

Sift through the articles and pick out the topics related to your premed classes. If it’s something you have a good understanding of then leave it alone. If you come across something which you struggled with, write that down for review later!

Below is an example of an MCAT passage straight from the AAMC website.

I’ll walk you through the 4 steps of passage question review to show you EXACTLY what you should be doing when you review a test. 

Quick Note: This sample passage can be found for free on the AAMC website, this is not taken from any paid source. 

Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems


The heme enzyme indoleamine 2,3 dioxygenase (IDO) catalyzes Reaction 1, the first and rate-determining step of L-tryptophan (Compound 1) metabolism, and is an important enzyme of the human immune system.


Reaction 1

The IDO-catalyzed oxidation of Compound 1 by H2O2 does not occur. However, researchers have recently discovered that IDO-catalyzed oxidation of indole (Compound 3) by H2O2 (Reaction 2) does occur.


Reaction 2

Under the conditions employed, the number of catalytic turnovers appeared to stop at roughly 100, on average. A plot of the concentration of Compound 3 that was oxidized versus the concentration of H2O2 employed, at two different initial concentrations of IDO, gave the results shown in Figure 1.

Aerobic oxidation of Compound 3 in the presence of 18O-labeled H218O2 resulted in the formation of 18O-labeled oxidation products (Table 1).

The formation of Compound 6 does not appear to be the result of a sequential oxidation process. Isotopically labeled Compound 4 does not exchange 18O for 16O in water over 3 hours, but Compound 6 completely loses its 18O label in unlabeled water over the same time period.

passage 2 graphs.jpg

Adapted from: Kuo HH, Mauk AG. Indole peroxygenase activity of indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2012;109(35):13966–71.


1. The progress of Reaction 2 can be monitored by observing what change to the IR spectrum of the product mixture?

A) Appearance of a broad peak at 3400 cm–1

B) Disappearance of a broad peak at 3400 cm–1

C) Appearance of a sharp peak at 1700–1750 cm–1

D) Disappearance of a sharp peak at 1700–1750 cm–1

Here is the answer:

Here is the 4 step approach to reviewing this question:

  1. We get the answer to this question by first going back to the passage and seeing that reaction 2 results in carbonyls being formed. Then we use our knowledge about infrared spectroscopy to realize that a sharp peak at 1700-1750 will form. Step one is understanding why the answer is C!
  2. If you got the question wrong, you will write down in your spreadsheet the reason you got it wrong. Examples: Lack of knowledge on the science being tested. Ran out of time. Failed to understand what the question was asking. Didn’t get the correct information from the passage. 
  3. If you got this question wrong because you struggle with Spectroscopy then in your spreadsheet you will write down spectroscopy. If you got this question wrong because you failed to recognize the change in functional groups in the reaction, then you need to review all the important functional groups. 
  4. Finally make a flashcard (Or 2!) of the specific thing you struggled with. A great example would be: In spectroscopy, what peak does a carbonyl functional group give you? Answer: 1700-1750. 

This may seem like a lot to do for every question on the MCAT, but it will get easier the more you do. Also, there will be questions that you completely understood and you can skip the 4 review steps. 

Quick Note: When reviewing MCAT passages, it’s better to figure out the answer to a question you got wrong before opening up the answer description!

Step 3: Content review on the broad subjects you struggled with

This step is really what you need that MCAT Prep book set for. Again, our top recommendation is the Kaplan MCAT book series. However, we did write detailed reviews on the other major MCAT companies.

When you review your MCAT practice tests, you are going to discover questions that were missed due to a lack of understanding of the subject material. What you want to do is make a note of the subject you struggled with and review it in the appropriate Kaplan book.

Sometimes this will be a quick look in the book and sometimes you may have to go over an entire chapter. Just make sure you thoroughly understand the topic you missed.

Pro Tip: Khan Academy is an excellent resource to help you nail down difficult-to-understand topics. I don't use them as my soul content review, but I like to watch their videos when I'm struggling with something particularly difficult. 

Remember, when reviewing the MCAT practice tests you will be making flashcards of subjects you struggled with. Even when doing your content review, keep making those flashcards.

Step 4: Flashcards

During this step, you are reinforcing your knowledge on the MCAT subject material.

Up until this point you will have been making plenty of flashcards with concepts you struggled with. 

No matter how many times you go through these steps, make sure you go over all your MCAT flashcards. The more tests you take, the larger your stockpile of flashcards will be. 

Step 5: Analyze what you are doing wrong and come up with a game plan.

After you have finished reviewing and going over your flashcards, you want to figure out what your pitfalls are. After you figure those out, you will make a plan on how you will avoid them for the next practice test.

In step 2, you made notes on why you were missing problems. Maybe there is a time issue and you need to work on time manegment. Maybe you are missing questions because you misread the passage and you need to focus more on reading the passage properly.

Whatever your pitfalls are, this is the time to come up with a plan to avoid them in the future. Oftentimes you will fall into these traps over and over. That’s okay, as long as you are focused on overcoming them. Eventually you will!

Step 6: Repeat

Now it’s time to do everything all over again! The way to master the MCAT exam is to repeat practice test after practice test with the proper review in between.

This plan is designed to be simple but effective. You don’t need any fancy/expensive courses to do well. Just keep repeating this method and you will see drastic results.


How many practice tests should I take in Phase 2?

The more practice tests you take the better. We recommend taking at least 9 full-length practice tests/custom practice tests. Your goal should be 12. After 12 it still helps to take practice tests but it's less important. 

Should you take a practice test the day before your exam?

No. The day before your MCAT you should not do a practice test under any circumstance. We took a survey of premed students to see what they did the day before the MCAT. The vast majority did either light review or didn't study at all.

Personally, I would rather not study at all. But if you feel like you need to do something, stick to some light flashcard review in the morning and cut yourself off by the afternoon!

In Phase 2 can you focus on certain MCAT topics more than others?

Yes! If you are struggling with one MCAT section, let's say CARS, it doesn't hurt to double up in that one. 

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