Preparing For The MCAT When You've Been Out Of College For A While
Some people take the MCAT and apply for medical school while they are still in college or soon after they graduate. But more and more, medical schools are looking for more mature candidates who have spent several years in the workforce before applying. If you fall into this latter category, you may fear taking the MCAT. Taking a test when you've been out of school for a few years is intimidating, and there's a lot riding on your score! Luckily, if you follow the tips below, you can achieve a good result on the MCAT even if your college days are a distant memory.
1. Retake some general science classes.
If you have six months or more until you have to take the MCAT, consider enrolling in general chemistry and general biology at a community college. Even if you took these classes years ago and did well, you have probably forgotten some of the basics. The information in these two classes is the basis for most of the other material on the MCAT, so it's important that you have a really good handle on the material.
Most community colleges offer classes at night, so you can work them in around your work schedule. You could also find a college that offers these classes online if you have a really busy schedule. You're not really worried about grades -- you're mostly worried about learning the material. So if the college offers a pass/fail option, that might be your best bet.
2. Take a practice exam.
As soon as you know you will be taking the MCAT, register yourself to take a formal practice exam. Most exam prep companies offer these every month or so. Do not expect to do well on this first practice test. The goal is not to get a high score. Rather, you want to pay attention to the type of material on the exam, and how well you know the material on each subject.
Analyze the results from the practice test carefully, and use them to guide your study. For instance, if you score very well on the chemistry section, you may not want to spend as much time studying chemistry. If the math section seems difficult, you need to focus more on math.
3. Register for a formal preparation class.
There are books you can purchase to prepare for the MCAT, and these may work well for some people. But as someone who has not been in a formal learning environment for a while, you could probably benefit from having a professional guide your learning. Register for a formal MCAT preparation course. There are ones that meet twice a week, and others that meet daily.
The more time you have to prepare, the less intense the class needs to be. For instance, if you have six months until the exam, you can take a class that meets once a week. If you have just a month to prepare, on the other hand, you may want to take a class that meets every day.
4. Don't worry too much about technology.
Chances are, the ways that students learn and take notes have changed since you attended college. When you attended, you probably used a pencil and paper to take notes! Now, the college kids mostly take notes on computers and tablets. If you are not quite this tech-savvy, don't worry. Stick with your old note-taking methods. You're used to learning this way, so you will take in more of the material than you might if you try to change your note-taking methods.
Many people are accepted to medical school years after having attended college. Follow these tips for MCAT preparation, and you could be one of them.