Getting a Top Score by Using Topical Tests

January 24, 2014
Emily Hause

Topical TestsHello my excited readers! Last week I filled you in on the awesomeness that exists in the MCAT flex sessions. Today, I’d like to highlight another often-underused and misunderstood resource, the Topical Tests!

Topical tests are un-timed and feature usually two passages as well as about 10-15 discrete questions. They’re focused on specific materials such as Oxygen Containing Compounds or Kinematics. They are an awesome first-stop to grapple with equations and concepts.

Now, I frequently get students who email me in a panic, worrying that they didn’t score 100% on the topical tests. In fact, lots of students score way lower than they anticipate, like 50% low. Pre-med students are not noted fans of 50% as a score ever. It makes us feel uncomfortable. It can also be incredibly discouraging given that you read your review notes, took the quizzes, sat through the class and were ready to rock the topical test!

So why am I telling my students that a 50% on a topical test is totally fine?

I would like to take this moment to dispel the myth that you can only do well on the MCAT if you score 100% on all of your materials. I encourage you to do your best effort on the topical tests and I celebrate your scores, especially if it’s below your ideal percent. Getting a low score means you struggled with the material. Topical tests are designed to stretch and expand your knowledge!

By struggling with the topical tests, you’re falling into traps that you don’t fall for on Test Day! By doing less than perfect, you’re identifying weaknesses while you have enough time to ask questions and address them. This is your first real MCAT-style practice on your own, of course it’s going to be challenging!

In short, the topical tests are a key part of your review work following your class sessions. If you need a pep talk about your topical test scores or any other MCAT troubles, don’t be afraid to hit me up in the comments!

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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