Study Habits Die Hard

June 12, 2013
Emily Hause

MCAT-STUDYHello to all my industrious MCAT students! For those of you planning for a summer test date, MCAT studying is in full swing and you’re probably planning on spending a fair amount of your summer holed up in the library working on MCAT content and passages.

Chances are, you have a schedule made and your study methods planned. But, have you ever stopped to question whether your method for studying is actually effective? Most likely you happened upon your method (flashcards, highlighting, re-reading the chapter) while studying for a class and it was effective for learning that material, so you stuck with it.

When it comes to the MCAT, you really need to make sure that you’re studying effectively and efficiently since, unlike most undergraduate science classes, you can’t cram the material needed to take the MCAT the night before the exam. You have to be able to retain and utilize information for a longer period of time which begs the question- what is an effective method of studying to ensure long-term retention of material?

Answer- One of the most effective ways to study is to quiz yourself on material not only immediately following studying, but for weeks afterward to make sure that you retained the material. By quizzing yourself, you are appropriately evaluating what material you do and do not know, which helps direct your further study. You also develop a feeling for how much material you actually know vs. how much material you THINK you know.
I am sure that you have all had the experience of studying for an exam for many hours, but when you got to the test you suddenly couldn’t remember a formula or a concept that you had read and re-read dozens of times. If you had integrated self-quizzing into your study routine, you would have realized that under pressure you couldn’t reproduce that formula and would have taken steps to ensure that would not happen on Test Day.
So, today while you’re re-reading that chapter on Newtonian Mechanics for the fifth time already this month, stop and self-quiz. How much material do you actually know? By taking the time to evaluate, you’re gaining practice applying formulas as well as identifying troublesome areas. Not to mention, you have experience employing a new study technique that you can utilize when you get into medical school.Bonus! If you are studying with a friend, you can write tests and answer keys for each other which will serve to reinforce important concepts and benefit both your MCAT score.
Happy studying (and self-quizzing)!
PS- Special thanks to Eli and Bob from Kaplan’s Learning Science Group for help with this post

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.

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