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Creating Your Prep Strategy

Design a custom strategy for the MCAT that balances review and practice using the resources of your choice.

Find a high scoring MCAT taker and ask them how they did it. Likely they will be able to slam down on a table a stack of annotated review books, page after page of hand-written notes, and a laptop filled with PDFs and bookmarks. They could go on and on with detailed explanation of their daily and weekly routines and practices. Every successful student has their own secret sauce, and creating a prep strategy for the MCAT is about defining your own recipe for success.

There are many templates, guides, courses, and study schedules that can serve as the backbone of your prep, but ultimately you own your process.

If you have previously taken the MCAT, take time to reflect on what you are going to do differently this time. (And you will need to do things differently this time.)

Strategy guides you along the way

Your strategy should handle some key processes that you can practice routinely to build your readiness up to test day:

  • Review — your process for learning
  • Practice — your process for building critical thinking and MCAT test taking experience
  • Performance Analysis — your process for gathering how your doing and monitoring progress
  • Responsive Adjustment — your process for applying practice and performance results back into your prep to increase your effectiveness
  • Reinforcement — your process for keeping material and skills fresh and building your confidence

Scheduling around strategy

Think about breaking down your prep into chunks. These big pieces are what will fall into place as your schedule, in order or alternating.

For example, let's say you want to review using a prep course. Lectures may be on a set schedule. That's one chunk. You can then layer your practice activities around the lectures. Perhaps you'll want to schedule in routine analysis of your performance after every few practice sessions, or sprinkle in short lecture rewinds to go over notes as reinforcement. You can then make changes to how often you perform these activities based on the results you are having.

In the following example two weeks, you see how the pattern described above including processes for review (blue), practice (orange), performance analysis (purple), and reinforcement (red) can fall into a repeatable but flexible schedule.

strategy example two weeks