Discuss MCAT strategies.

Does anyone have any “real strategies” to keep in mind while attacking the MCAT passages? My score keeps dropping from a 21 to a 18 to a 16 atm. I plan on taking the MCAT Jan 2010. Even though this looks early for most people, this is my third and last try to apply to med school (understandable i screwed up on the MCAT twice already

In the interim, i’ll go do practice passages but hope to hear some “real solutions” to my problems.


I think you need to skip the Jan 2010 MCAT and figure out how to improve, then study like mad, THEN take the MCAT later (June/July).

Unfortunately, I have no other suggestions, as I’ve not taken it yet.

^^^ That’s sound advice. Be fully prepared and bring your “A” game before taking it again. Have you browsed some of the info (the FAQs) on SDN? There’s some great info there – digest it one step at a time. Good luck.





I think the best advice I read on there was to analyze and completely, fully, 100%, absolutely, (and other superlative etc) understand why you picked the wrong answer before continuing to the next practice passage or full test. Otherwise, you’re just blindly taking practice tests and gaining nothing.

if you’ve been getting those scores now on your practice exams then those are the scores you’ll get in January. I would skip the test and do something different in your study – fundamentally different. Really evaluate how you’ve been studying and change it markedly and target a test much later in 2010.

What exactly is your problem? Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Verbal? Or maybe you don’t finish? Until you pin-point what’s your biggest issue, you’ll never improve.

None of my scores are consistent. Sometimes i get an 8 on the BS and sometimes a 5 I do badly on the PS most times. VR is a nightmare in of itself. When i think i did well on the test, the scores tell a different story.

Taking it later than Jan doesn’t really help me since i’ve already taken this exam twice. I mean my whole life seems like it’s on a halt because i can’t get on with this hurdle. It’s frustrating and i’ve made up my mind that if this doesn’t happen in Jan, then it wasn’t meant to be. I have relatives/advisors who think that i’m fooling everyone by pretending to study when i’m clearly not interested in this. I don’t know how to explain to ppl that my intentions are pure and I DO WANT TO BECOME A DOCTOR.

Thanks for your advices and i guess all i can do now is go back and review the tests.


you still haven’t answered the question. What exactly is your problem? You don’t have to answer here… we don’t need to know. But you have to know what to fix, before you know how to go about it.

Are you a “bad test taker”? How do you do/ have you done on other tests? If so - practice, practice, practice!!!

Do you lack basic knowledge? - study, study, study!

  • tp25 Said:
Thanks for your advices ...

I'm not going to post this to be rude, mean or insulting but that statement, right there, is one reason WHY you should wait.

The simple English grammar component of any test could trip you up. The word is advice - in singularity or plurality. Many years ago, I graded papers for the university... and failed many people because of a lack of comprehensive sentences, and worse, bad spelling (I've now joined the ones who need to brush up!!! )

Since you've resigned yourself to do poorly, and won't push back on the exam date, then you are doomed to fail, yet again.

If you TRULY want to be a doctor, and are not just saying it, then you will do everything you can to ensure your 3rd and final MCAT is best prepped for which means, pushing back on the date, getting help on the English and apparently, physics and biology and...

I cannot imagine taking the dumb test twice and hopefully, when my time arrives to take it, I will do everything *I* can to do well once, and only once.

Best of luck to you

what if i were to fail yet again in May? i have a full course load and research in spring and i don’t want to jeopardize my gpa but then…

anyways i’m kind of feeling doomed no matter what right now

I’m not sure. I keep brushing up on my basics but realize that somehow i’ve forgotten something yet again. Regarding practice exams, i have taken a lot of them. I guess you could say i haven’t really gone back and made notes on where i go wrong with each of them. I guess i’ll start with that.

Since i still have 2 months, i think i’m going to wait and see if my scores change by the end of December before i postpone the exam.


I think a valid strategy for you is to work solely on VR passages until you can consistently score very very well – like not missing any on most passages.

This will tell you much about how to continue, considering there is no subject matter background to recall or memorize. If you do poorly here it is a reading comprehension and critical thinking issue – one that can be improved with more practice. If and when you start doing well in VR, then layer on the subject matter review to help with the other two sections.

You need to first learn that you CAN do well on these types of reading comprehension and critical thinking exams and the VR is the section that will tell you this.

Good luck.

I found the Examcrackers method to be the most useful to me, especially for verbal. I increased my score from an 7-9 on the practice exams to a 13 on the actual test. The good Dr. Kelley wrote a great post about approaching the problem the way you would diagnose a patient. Eliminate the obvious wrong answers, discard the less likely, and hopefully you have arrived at the correct one. You should be able to find it by searching his previous posts.


There is a group that does individualized MCAT preparation with people over a long weekend (more if needed) that focuses on HOW to take the test. I know people who swear by them for med tests (MCAT, USMLE 1, 2, 3). I think the format is that you fly in to where they are and they work with you for some agreed upon time in order to increase your skills in how to take the exam. The idea isn’t to increase your general knowledge, rather in how to take the knowledge you have in order to answer the questions correctly. If you’re interested, please drop me a private note and I’ll pass along their contact information.

First and foremost, Calm Down. When you get anxious and nervous, you will tend to do worse.

Second. What you should do is take the free full length MCAT available at AAMC.org and then print out the report to see where you are deficient. This will also give you a baseline.

Third, change your thinking towards the MCAT. Many people have felt that it was “the beast”, any negative thinking will cause negative behavior. You will not want to study because you will think of it as a burden. But if you change the negative into a positive and think about the MCAT as the key to unlock the door to medical school then you will see that you will be more motivated to study and do well.

Once you have all of this done, think of a strategy that will work to tackle the MCAT. If it is knowledge, then study the material and test yourself on it often. If it is verbal then maybe you are thinking about it the wrong way. The Verbal Reasoning section is a critical thinking test. The answer will 99% of the time never be in the passage. The test wants you to take the information gathered, process it, and apply it somewhere else.

If you need to, take a prep course. These are things that you need to take into account. Maybe taking the MCAT in January is not optimal for you. Remember, it is now offered 22 times per year and you have a lot of leeway in when you can take it.

Good Luck.

MD2B2010 – could you please share the info. that you are referencing? Thanks!

I agree on the not referring to it as “the beast” thing. I started calling it the “MKitty” and now just “Kitty” so it’s less intimidating! Lame, I know, but it helps me!

  • Pamela Said:
MD2B2010 -- could you please share the info. that you are referencing? Thanks!

The program of which I spoke is the Institute for Board Prep based in Kansas City. Most of their work is in USMLE Steps 1, 2, and 3 exams. However, as I shared in my earlier post, they also do private tutoring for the MCAT exam. If people really believe they have a firm foundation in the knowledge-base but still are performing poorly on the exams, this may be a great program for them. Their webaddress is www.instituteforboardprep.com. The operators (Edwena and Peggy) are both fantastic and will really offer you some outstanding support in the process. If anyone has any questions feel free to send me a private message.