As my title indicates, I’m shifting gears a bit in studying for the MCAT. I thought I would write a bit about what I’m doing in case what I’ve discovered (the hard way) may help someone else.
I finished my post-bac May 2012. I’m taking the MCAT May 23, 2013. I had originally scheduled for late March, but got sick and literally missed 6 weeks of study time. So while I’m not thrilled about applying without knowing my score, that’s the way it will have to be.
But back to the point of my post. I had originally planned to study mainly using the Examkrackers books (which a fellow OPMer in my area gave me- THANK YOU! ). But I was having trouble digging into the material. Part of that was that being out of school, and being back at a job etc., I’d started to lose sight of the bigger picture - getting into med school, and earning my MD/PhD. (I’ve gotten that ambition back, thankfully.)
I also realized, though, that I wasn’t studying in the way that best fit my learning style. I learn by reading, in part. So I will continue to use the EK books. But I need multiple types of “input.” Not just reading. So I am also going to be listening to the Audio Osmosis lectures (another gift - THANK YOU too!) and watching the free Khan Academy videos online (a suggestion from a fellow OPMer now in her 1st year of med school - THANK YOU as well!).
In addition to multiple forms of input, I need to create some sort of “output.” I need to be an active, not a passive, learner. I am doing that in two ways:
Taking notes. I am doing this while I watch the Khan Academy videos and listen to Audio Osmosis (so handy that, unlike with a classroom lecture, you can pause/rewind!).
Making flashcards. I am doing this online so that I have access to them on my iPad/iPhone, and therefore can study literally anywhere (grocery store line, train commute, etc.). Anyone who wants access to my flashcards is welcome to them; I use quizlet.com, and my username is menhenne. If you don’t like my flashcards, there are a gazillion of MCAT flashcards up there that you can use/import for yourself. And it’s totally free. (I paid the $15/year “premium” upgrade so that I can import my own images into my cards, which for me is worth it. But the basic membership is free.)
Something I am adding to my time with the EK materials - investigating tough topics. There had been a few instances (when I was just using EK, before my focus returned) that I would come to a topic, or one of the sample questions, and I was really confused. I’ll be honest - I was lazy. I reread the paragraphs (or answer explanations) a bunch of times, enough to understand it somewhat, but often left the page still feeling unsure of myself. No more of that! If I don’t get something, I look it up using another resource. Multiple resources, if I have to. I invested in a laptop and WiFi for a reason. (And it wasn’t to putz around on Facebook.)
OK, long post. Time for a summary. (The CliffsNotes version, if you will.)
This is what I’m NOT saying: That everyone should study in the way I am studying.
This is what I AM saying: That it’s really, really important to think hard about how you best learn, and tailor your MCAT studying to your own needs. Because, after all, you’re the one taking the exam. What works for me may or may not work for you. But figure out what does work for you.
Best wishes to everyone taking the exam this spring and summer!