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Aug 02 2009

Michigan State University Visit and Continuing Lessons in MCAT Preparation

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Author: Dr. James L Flowers
Category: MCAT Prep Tips

My trip to East Lansing to meet with a group of Pre-Med MSU students was educational and as enjoyable as usual. Ms. Fowler was a great and considerate host. The facilities were great. And, of course, the students were attentive and involved. Each time I go on one of the road trips, I learn a lot. Maybe more than the students. This trip was no different.

Many of the students had already taken the MCAT and not performed up to their expectations. Most of these had taken an expensive MCAT prep from the big names in the business. From our discussions and then during and after my presentation of how to prepare for the MCAT, I want to share some of my insights on what needs to be done to get ready for this very difficult test:

  1. Trust what AAMC is telling you. Despite all of the great literature and direction from AAMC, many students just don’t believe them and think there is more to it than AAMC is telling. AAMC, as best I can determine, has been and is completely transparent in their description of their test and how you can best prepare for it. Follow their advice.
  2. Understand where you are at in terms of your strengths and weaknesses. You need to have some good assessment of your current level of readiness in terms of what is needed for the actual test. Too many students think they need advanced and complicated courses and knowledge for the test…they don’t.
  3. Take the necessary time to prepare and prepare hard. This means you will need adequate time over months and adequate time each day to unhurriedly and without distractions study for this test. The average student will probably need 400 hours to prepare…those less prepared will need more.
  4. This is not an IQ test, no known test measures general intelligence. This is a test of achievement…this is what medical schools want to know. What have you achieved that is going to make you a good candidate for their school?
  5. Every test has its own unique structure and its own “culture”. For you to succeed, you should have some appreciation of that and how you can take advantage of that.
  6. You need to use the real MCATs available from AAMC and extract every ounce of educational value from them to make your preparation successful.

These are some of the lessons I tried to instill that day. I hope they listened. My belief is that anyone who uses the correct approach, and then put their real effort into it, will do better and succeed.