October 8, 2014

Which MCAT Test Date Is Best For You?

[caption id="attachment_1644" align="alignright" width="300"] BREAKING NEWS: AAMC just added an additional MCAT test date on Saturday, December 6, 2014! Find out more at https://services.aamc.org/20/mcat/[/caption] One of the first major hurdles you’ll face on your way to unlocking the good life as a doctor is taking the MCAT. And there are many things you have to consider as you prep, including when you should schedule your MCAT test date to maximize your score. Deciding when to take the exam isn’t always easy, and every student has his or her own unique situation, commitments, and timeline. Read on to find out what Kaplan recommends for you!  

Which MCAT test dates should you avoid?

While the test is administered year-round, there are definitely some MCAT test dates that are advisable to avoid, such as many that fall during your application year. The AMCAS primary application and ACOMAS open up in May and can be submitted beginning in June. These dates are important to keep in mind, since you want to send everything in as soon as possible. As for how this affects your MCAT exam date, taking the test in June and July of the year in which you plan to apply not only means that schools will receive your MCAT score later than those of most applicants, but it also leaves you with no chance for retaking the exam if you don’t do as well as you would have liked the first time around. Do yourself a favor now and cross those dates off your list.  

Should I take the MCAT in April or May?

April and May also make for very popular MCAT test dates, but ones you might want to avoid if you are a traditional university student. Many students decide they want to study through the semester and take the MCAT right after school ends. However, it can be difficult to find the right balance between studying for the MCAT and handling full-time coursework. Finals can also occupy several weeks in April or May, leaving you underprepared for a test date so soon after the semester. Set yourself up for success by taking your MCAT prep into account when planning your spring semester’s coursework.  

What are the best MCAT test dates?

The remaining MCAT test dates can be narrowed down based on your personal circumstances, but January and August dates are rather popular. Why? For most university students, those dates fall right after winter break and summer vacation, meaning there is a ton of class-free study time that can be used to focus solely on the MCAT. As an added bonus, if you don’t get the score you like, both of these test dates provide you the opportunity to take the test again—in September for a previous August administration and in March for a previous January administration. With the Kaplan Higher Score Guarantee, you’re covered if you want to take the test later for any reason!  

What date and time are best for my MCAT score?

While perhaps not as important as the test date itself, the day and time you choose to take the exam can also affect your MCAT score. Being in a good state of mind for the MCAT is imperative. If you’re busy during the week, taking the test on Saturday might be a good idea—sometime you can be well-rested and focused. If you have to travel to another city or state to take the MCAT, it may be prudent to get to the testing location early, spend the night at a hotel, and take the exam the next day, instead of traveling straight to the testing center. As far as test time goes, consider what works with your circadian rhythm. If you’re a morning person, then 8:00 a.m. exams are for you. If not, you might enjoy having some time to wake up, shower, get dressed, and eat something fulfilling before you hit the ground running for the 1:00 p.m. exam. One important tip to keep in mind: take your practice tests at the same time of day you plan to take the actual MCAT.  

One last piece of advice…

Most importantly, you want to take the MCAT when you feel ready for it. Keep a close eye on the gold, silver, and bronze deadlines created by the AAMC Registration Schedule. By taking our full-length practice exams, Kaplan students can get a good idea of whether or not they’re ready to take the MCAT prior to the bronze deadline. Congratulations on the huge step you’re taking toward becoming a doctor! Now you just need to explore the Kaplan resources that are at your disposal. Check out our road maps to the good life to see what the average MCAT score requirements are for your top schools, and, while you’re at it, enter our Good Life Sweepstakes for a chance to win $10K! ...read more
March 10, 2014

Setting Expectations for Preparing for the MCAT!

Greetings MCAT Rockstars! Tonight I am teaching my Physics 1 class. This is the first content class Kaplan teaches when preparing for the MCAT. Before I begin my first content lesson I always begin class by setting expectations!  It is important to begin your MCAT preparations by thinking about your own study habits and things you could change to make your MCAT preperation as optimal as possible! Class Are you doing the preview work before class? Are you mentally alert and engaged in class? Homework  When are you going to do the homework? Have you scheduled into your weekly plans? Support Are you reaching out to your teacher during/ after class? Are you following the syllabus in the right order? These are questions I ask my students, not only for my own knowledge in order to better help and communicate with them, but more importantly for their self reflection, so they might be studying SMARTER! Are there things you can be doing better in your own study methods? "Success is when preparation meets opportunity!" Stay tuned for more articles that will help you when preparing for the MCAT. ...read more
February 24, 2014

MCAT Success Starts Here!

The first topic that I address with a new class is always the same. You are going to take the MCAT. Repeat it with me guys! “I am going to be taking the MCAT.” Sounds kind of strange when you say it out loud, right? Not if you want MCAT success! One of the first things we acknowledge when we start a class is the MCAT can be a scary thing. In general, most pre-med students go through the pre-med track looking at the MCAT as an obstacle. The MCAT can NOT be seen as an obstacle – rather an opportunity. It is an opportunity to show medical school admissions committees how well prepared you are!

“Success is when preparation meets an opportunity!”

The admissions game revolves around 2 numbers: The MCAT score and your GPA. The great part about the MCAT is you can improve that number by taking the exam! This means with great preparation and looking to the MCAT as a great opportunity you can increase that number! Some of you may be reading this thinking “OK Pat, I get that, BUT I still have my self-doubts.” Well guess what?! We all do! Everyone has self-doubt. EVERYONE. Remember this, all doctors have to take the MCAT and apply to medical school. All of you already envision yourself as a doctor. This is just part of the process. Will there be some late nights and some times where it may get hard? Absolutely! But we are here to help! So are you ready? Let’s get started! Join me tomorrow when we talk about picking an MCAT Test Date! ...read more
Tests & Scores
November 6, 2013

Thinking About MCAT Science With Adam: E04 Blood Types

This episode takes us to donating blood, where there's a lot more MCAT science than it first may seem. No matter where Adam is he can find a way to see MCAT science! For more great lessons from Adam, and a whole lot more, jump over to our MCAT YouTube Channel. There's hours of footage from events, lessons, and more that can help you prepare for the MCAT and medical school. Enjoy!   [cf]skyword_tracking_tag[/cf] ...read more
November 1, 2013

Kaplan Patrick Q&A: Efficient MCAT Studying Part 2

Continuing our discussion from 'Efficient MCAT Studying Part 1' we ask what is the most efficient way to study during our block. Looking back at the sample schedules, note that we are trying to get in at least 20 hours of studying a week at the very minimum, included in that time would be 1 full length examination a week.  At the minimum you should be trying to get in at least:
  • 2 Topical Tests
  • 1 Verbal Section Test
  • 1 Science Section Test
  • 1 Full Length Test
I understand that a lot of the content people are comfortable with. The key to approaching the MCAT is figuring out which information you can study that will result in the biggest increase in points. During your study block, just pick one thing to do... i.e. a Section Test, maybe 2 Topical Tests, or some Review Note Chapters and their corresponding quizzes. The key to finishing up the block strong is filling out the WHY I MISSED IT CHART.  An example of a template:

We find the better a student fills out the chart the more they get out of the exercise. For example:
TEST - For this column just fill in which topical/ section/ or full length test you are working on Q# - Just the question number of that specific test so you can look it up later Passage/ Discrete - Was this a discrete question or was it associated with a passage? Subject - Some people like to fill this in different ways. I have found the best way to do this is to make your subjects just Physics/ General Chemistry/ Verbal/ Organic Chemistry/ Biology Topic - The reason I have students fill in topic is so you can look at what specific topics of a subject you don't know. I find the best way to do this is to take out the Review Notes and organize your topics by the chapters in the books. This is how to figure out what you need to review so you can go directly back to that specific chapter in the book. Why I missed it? - This is the KEY to making the whole chart. You need to honestly ask yourself why you are missing a specific question. Are you missing it because you don't know the concept? Did you misread the question? Did you simply make a calculation error? Did you not understand what you read in the passage? Now remember when you are taking FL exams you are going to study longer than 2 hours. That is the only time you are really extending your studying much beyond that time frame. The key here is understanding and recognizing patterns along the way! Remember we want to turn those weakness into STRENGTHS! Stay focused! The hard work pays off!   [cf]skyword_tracking_tag[/cf] ...read more
October 30, 2013

Kaplan Patrick Q&A: Efficient MCAT Studying Part 1

Hey guys! Following up on my student question from yesterday reminded me of a blog post I wrote a while back about proper MCAT studying. In order to help my students become more productive in their MCAT studies I always start with a question back! The first question to ask is how long should we be studying for?  Right away many say "9, 10 hours? All day even?" I am here to tell you that is simply not the case.  Remember that the goal for total hours studied for an MCAT should be around 300 hours on average. Keeping that in mind, a good number to start at is 6.  Just 6 hours is the max many study in a given day, often less. The important thing to note about these hours is that it is NOT 6 hours in a row.  Ideally, you want to break those 6 hours over 3 different sessions in the day.  Could you study for 6 hours in a row? Yes, absolutely you could, however, we find that students study more efficiently and put in more quality time when they limit a "study block" to only 2 hours.  This allows them to stay focused and work hard during that time frame and then back off and take a break. Below is a list of common daily schedules used by our students. I, once a Kaplan student, used the 'Early Riser' Schedule many days during my MCAT studies. This allowed me to accumulate a lot of study time that I otherwise would not have found. Early Riser If you can become an early riser and schedule some of your classes for the late morning/ early afternoon you can really utilize your mornings for MCAT study.   This is a very similar schedule to what I personally did in my own MCAT preparation. 8am - Wake and Breakfast 9am - First Study Session 10am - Workout 11am - Second Study Session 12pm - Classes 6pm - Dinner 7pm - Study for Classes 9pm - Rest/ Relax The "Not-a-Morning Person" Schedule Simply put some of us are just not morning people and that is totally OK! With the MCAT offering the 1pm start time on select dates this shouldn't cause any concern.  The trick to not being a morning person is to try and squeeze a study session in between your classes. 11am - Wake and Breakfast 12pm - Classes 2pm - First Study Session 3pm - Classes 6pm - Dinner 7pm - Second Study Session 8pm - Study for Classes 10pm - Workout 11pm - Rest/ Relax The Weekender As you can see in the two sample schedules above I always recommend time for a workout or at least some break that involves physical activity.  This can be the trick for keeping yourself focused and alert during long study days. Remember for most of us we are trying to balance class work with MCAT work! When you fall behind the best thing to do is to use your weekends to catch up! Most importantly you want to use at least one of your weekend days to take a full length exam. 10am - Wake and Breakfast 11am - First Study Session 1pm - Workout/ Lunch 2pm - Second Study Session 4pm - Break/ Errands 5pm - Study Session 7pm - Enjoy your time off. Remember it's the weekend! Stay tuned! More to come on what goes into those 2 hours of a "study block".  Remember a happier more efficient you in #MCATdomination!   [cf]skyword_tracking_tag[/cf] ...read more
Tests & Scores
October 1, 2013

MCAT Fast Facts: Predicting Reactivity

In today’s Kaplan MCAT Fast Facts video from the Kaplan MCAT course, Dr. Jeff Koetje discusses how to predict reactivity as tested on the MCAT. Note that the MCAT tests critical thinking, not just science recall, mastery of certain science concepts is a prerequisite for the test. For more great videos concerning Fast Facts, Current Events, and more, head over to our MCAT YouTube Channel….… ...read more
Med School Experience
September 23, 2013

Kaplan MCAT Fast Facts 10: Genetic Mutations

In today's Kaplan MCAT Fast Facts video from the Kaplan MCAT course, Dr. Jeff Koetje discusses genetic mutations as tested on the MCAT. Note that the MCAT tests critical thinking, not just science recall, mastery of certain science concepts is a prerequisite for the test. For more great videos concerning Fast Facts, Current Events, and more, head over to our MCAT YouTube Channel.... [cf]skyword_tracking_tag[/cf] ...read more
Applying to Med School
September 18, 2013

What Will Med School Interviewers Ask You?

A review of Kaplan's The Pulse, experts join us as they discuss what you need to know about the Med School Interview and what things med school interviewers will ask you! In this video, Alicia Carlson-Bryant, explains what an interviewer is looking to ask an applicant! For more great videos, check Kaplan's MCAT YouTube Channel! [cf]skyword_tracking_tag[/cf] ...read more

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