Why you should join a MCAT study group
The MCAT is a critical thinking test. So when it comes to MCAT passages and even stand-alone questions, it's more than just pulling facts out of your knowledge banks. You will need to have a robust conceptual understanding that allows you to apply your knowledge to the analysis of novel situations.
That means, just "knowing" something may not be enough. In fact, in the course of fulfilling pre-med requirements most students have already taken Chemistry, Physics, and Biology classes that cover everything on the MCAT and more. But when it comes to applying that knowledge on the MCAT, a familiarity with the topics tested will only get you so far.
And one of the best ways to assure you truly know your stuff is to teach it to someone else. That's a great reason for incorporating a study group into your MCAT prep strategy.
Who should be in your MCAT study group
A productive study group needs to allow for learning. Too many participants can be distracting, too few and you may not be challenging each other enough. A variety of skill levels can also be a positive influence, as students can learn from each other as well as reinforce and develop confidence in what they already know.
It is critical, however, that all students participate and take their prep and the study group seriously. Be sure not to allow your study group to dissolve into a social hour. And while there may be a spectrum of skill levels, everyone in the group should be getting an A for effort.
How often your MCAT study group should meet
The length of the MCAT and the amount of focus required to do well require that you build stamina and focus for test day. These skills are built within you and are fully dependent on you. That means you'll need to schedule plenty of time to study on your own and not be reliant on the group for learning.
To make your group more productive, you will want to spread out your sessions to allow for individual learning to take place in between. This will also allow questions to arise for the group to address.
More tips for running a MCAT study group
- establish agreed upon goals for the group
- stay in communication with one another
- arrange meetings in distraction free spaces
- consider assigning a lead to create an agenda for each session
- have a whiteboard / blackboard nearby for group explanations
- share questions prior to meeting so participants can prepare
Good luck! Got any study group tips? Share them!
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