Treat the MCAT like you would treat a patient!

July 10, 2013
Emily Hause

Doctor_consults_with_patient_(7)Hello, my enterprising future doctors/current MCAT studiers. Today I want to recommend a course of action for MCAT studying that you will repeat thousands of times as a physician when you are in the clinic or the hospital. Bonus! You don’t even need to attend medical school to perform these actions- diagnose, treat, and reassess.

1. Diagnose- One of the main duties you will have as a physician will be to listen, evaluate your patients’ symptoms and develop a diagnosis. When studying for the MCAT you can use quizzes, tests and flashcards to help diagnose your weak and strong areas of study.

Don’t make the major mistake that most students fall prey to! Don’t assume that you know the material just because you stared at the page in the book for twenty minutes. Use quizzing yourself as a way to diagnose your strengths and weaknesses

However, diagnosing is not simply for determining which content you need to work on. It’s also important to diagnose why you are incorrectly answering questions. Are you misreading the question? Did you have a calculation error? Did you run out of time? Did you get distracted by a tempting wrong answer choice? Figuring out where you are going wrong is the key to the next important step. . .

2. Treat- Once you know your weak areas, you need to develop a treatment plan that addresses your personal testing issues. Much like in medicine, you want to come up with a prescription or treatment plan that is specialized to meet your MCAT needs.

Some potential treatment plans- If you’re misreading the question, practice reading questions more carefully and re-phrasing them to ensure clarity. If you have a calculation error, make sure to do questions that are calculation heavy or refresh your math skills with some math drills. If you’re running out of time, work on timed drills for passages and questions. If you are distracted by tempting wrong answer choices, practice answering the questions without using the available answer choices to ensure a strong prediction.

Be creative and think outside the box with your treatment options. The more fun and challenging the treatment, the more successfully you will address your MCAT weak spots! One of the best resources you have available is right here! Use fun events like Kaplan’s The Pulse where we talk to Med School and MCAT experts to help guide you through the test-taking and admissions process. As well, seek extra videos and articles to reinforce your content and strategy knowledge. Also, don’t be afraid to drop questions in the comments if you’re struggling. I would love to help you treat your MCAT ailments!

Once you have diagnosed and treated your patterns for picking wrong answer choices, you get to the most rewarding step.

Reassess- Physicians love to schedule follow-up appointments to check on their patients’ recoveries. As an MCAT student, you will need to check up on your wrong answer patterns to make sure that you’re not falling into the same traps on future passages and questions. Take the time to re-quiz yourself to make sure that your treatment was effective. It’s super exciting to see the progress you can make after targeted treatment drills! After reassessing, you can decide whether to re-treat or move on to a working on a different issue.

So, there you have it! You can emulate the daily life of practicing physician long before you have your M.D. while gaining valuable MCAT practice and boosting your score for Test Day!

Happy studying!

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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