Correcting a Common MCAT Misconception

April 1, 2013
Emily Hause

320px-Panic_buttonOne of the questions I get asked most frequently as a teacher is, “Exactly what questions will I see on my test?”  If I knew the answer to that question, I would be making tons of money setting everyone up with their personalized MCAT answers. Although I can’t tell anyone exactly which questions they will be answering on Test Day, I do want to help out all of my intrepid MCAT studiers today and correct a common MCAT misconception.

Misconception: When I take my test, all of the material will be 100% familiar

Here’s the deal- yes, you have been studying for hundreds of hours. You have completed dozens of practice tests and successfully conquered countless numbers of MCAT passages. You are extremely well-prepared. However, the AAMC realizes that students prepare for the test and thus include passages with experimental set-ups that you have never seen. There is a critical thinking component to the MCAT, and the AAMC likes to keep test-takers on their toes.

So, if you get to your test and see something totally new, that’s okay! You’re not expected to have previously seen every inch of the test. Your job is to get out the relevant information from the passages and work on correctly answering the questions.

The most important thing you can do when you get to an unfamiliar passage, is to not panic. I repeat, don’t panic! If you think a passage looks difficult or unfamiliar, chances are that everyone else is struggling with the same passage. If you see an extremely complicated experimental set-up, they are really asking about concepts you know. I have seen ridiculous looking MCAT passages that are essentially asking about flow of electrons or F=ma.

When you’re taking your test, expect the unexpected and know that you’re well-prepared. Use that confidence to propel you through even the trickiest-looking MCAT passages.


Emily Hause Emily has been a teacher for Kaplan for over eight years; she's taught MCAT, ACT, SAT, SAT2 and tutored pretty much every subject under the sun in both the classroom and live online (aka Classroom Anywhere) settings. She's also worked for Kaplan in content development and teacher mentorship roles. Emily is currently a fourth-year medical student at the University of Colorado and is hoping to go into Pediatrics. She's involved in many campus opportunities such as being a Prospective Student Representative, admissions committee member, CU-UNITE member, and co-president of the Education and Teaching Interest Group. Prior to medical school, Emily got a BA in Biochemistry and Spanish from Lawrence University and a Masters in Public Health- Epidemiology from the University of Minnesota. In her free time, Emily enjoys dancing, baking, playing tennis and exploring her new Colorado home.

About Kaplan Test Prep

We know test prep. We invented it. Through innovative technology and a personalized approach to learning, we’ll equip you with the test insights and advice you need to achieve your personal best. Results, guaranteed*.

Kaplan is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education & Training (ACCET), a U.S. Department of Education nationally recognized agency. MCAT® is a registered trademark of the Association of American Medical Colleges. Test names and other trademarks are the property of the respective trademark holders. None of the trademark holders are endorsed by nor affiliated with Kaplan or this website. *Higher Score Guarantee: Conditions and restrictions apply. For complete guarantee eligibility requirements, visit © 2014 The Med School Pulse. All Rights Reserved