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The first step that you take towards achieving your aim of becoming a successful physician is taking the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test). Your MCAT scores are considered, along with the grades you achieved while carrying out your undergraduate studies, for your admission to various medical schools. The admission committees of most medical schools across the US and Canada place a lot of significance on the MCAT scores attained by the applicants desiring to seek admissions.
The MCAT is administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) 22 times in a year at MCAT test centers located across the US and Canada. You can also take the MCAT from an international location after paying an additional fee. MCAT’s official web site, http://www.aamc.org/students/mcat/start.htm contains detailed information on the MCAT testing schedules, MCAT testing centers and MCAT test dates. You can register for the MCAT from https://services.aamc.org/20/mcat.
Preparing for the MCAT
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As compared to other professions, that of a physician is widely admired and respected by all. Thousands of students strive hard to accomplish a career in the field of medicine and health services. If you want to excel in a career related to medicine, you will have to secure admission to a medical school. For this, you will need the assistance of good MCAT scores in addition to good undergraduate grades. You have to take your MCAT prep seriously if you want to score high in the MCAT.
There is a lot of uncertainty among students regarding the ideal time for starting their MCAT prep. It is advisable to start your MCAT prep at least 4 to 5 months before the date on which you would like to take the MCAT. It would be a grave mistake on your part if you think that you can carry out MCAT prep in a couple of months before the MCAT. The MCAT tests your knowledge in Physics, Chemistry and Biology in addition to your proficiency in the English language. Even if you have been getting good grades in your undergraduate studies you will require a lot of time to review the content tested by the MCAT. Having a good knowledge of the fundamentals of Science doesn't necessarily mean that you will be able to score high in the MCAT. You should have adequate practice of the types of questions specifically asked in the MCAT.
Your MCAT prep should start with downloading the MCAT Essentials document. It is available for free at the MCAT’s official web site, http://www.aamc.org/students/mcat/start.htm. While registering for the MCAT you will have to submit a confirmation stating that you have read the MCAT Essentials. Do not take the task of going through the MCAT Essentials as an unwanted compulsion; rather make it a point to use it thoroughly for your MCAT prep. The information on the MCAT test format present in this document can help you immensely in your MCAT prep.
During the course of your undergraduate studies, you may have been able to identify your weak and strong subject areas. You may start your MCAT prep after an initial analysis of the content tested by the MCAT and time available with you for MCAT prep. Divide the time in such a way that you are able to devote more time to your weak subject areas. You may commence your MCAT prep with a review of the subjects that require your attention. Keep aside some time towards the end of your MCAT prep to carry out a fresh review of the weak subject areas in order to enable you to recall the difficult concepts while taking the MCAT. This does not mean that you need not pay attention to your strong subject areas. You will have to put in equal effort into further improving your strengths while carrying out MCAT prep.
You can effectively utilize flashcards for your MCAT prep. Flash cards are a very useful method for memorizing the basic concepts of science subjects and the rules and conventions of standard written English. These flashcards are very handy as they’re available in hand held sizes and are printed on both sides. You tend to memorize better by constantly revising the concepts, rules and formulae. You can go through the flashcards while traveling or taking a break from routine studies. You can ask your friends or your family members to quiz you with the help of flashcards. http://www.mo-media.com/mcat/ is one of the web sites where you can buy flashcards.
Take as many MCAT practice tests as possible. Since the MCAT is a computerized test your MCAT prep should include a number of practice tests so that you are able to fine tune your time management skills that are required for answering each section of the MCAT within the stipulated time period. You will be able to access MCAT practice tests from a number of web sites. The MCAT’s official web site contains online practice tests that can be bought for a nominal price. The results of the practice tests will help you in evaluating the progress that you are making in your MCAT prep. If you find yourself consistently lacking in some subject area then you can consider changing the reference book that you are using for your MCAT prep or you may like to change the method of your MCAT prep.
Go to www.amazon.com to pick up a suitable MCAT study guide to assist you in your MCAT prep. MCAT study guides are easily available in the market. Picking up a book from this web site will be a better option as you can get a fair idea of the utility of a particular MCAT study book from the customer reviews that it has received. If possible, form a study group with friends who are also carrying out MCAT prep. You will be able to learn a lot by carrying out discussions with each other and sharing each other’s study materials. However, if you are comfortable studying on your own, then it is a perfectly good choice provided you have all the relevant study materials required for your MCAT prep.
Most applicants are uncertain of the method to be applied for studying for the Verbal reasoning and Writing Sample section of the MCAT. How can one acquire analytical skills? How to develop writing skills essential for doing well in the Writing Sample section of the MCAT? The answers to the questions asked above are the same - read as much as you can. You should try and inculcate good reading habits and make reading a daily routine as a part of your MCAT prep.
Go through newspapers, fiction books and good magazines daily. Be sure to pick up reading material written by reputed authors and printed by well known publishing houses. Newspapers are a good source for carrying out extensive reading as a part of your MCAT prep. This method of reading will give you a break from the monotony of regular studies, will freshen up your mind and also do you a lot of good in brushing up your writing skills. Read the editorials in the newspapers, they will give you a good idea of the method in which an essay should be constructed. In addition to all this do not forget to refer to your MCAT study guides too, especially for information related to MCAT specific questions.
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