Study tips for testing success
Posted on Mar 06, 2013 in Features
After surviving a harrowing semester tackling the MCAT, I have emerged into the post emcat nirvana of pre-med life. Yes, the grass is greener on the other side of the test, however the trouble is overcoming that hurtle. During my time studying for the MCAT, I tried many approaches that failed miserably. In addition, I discovered approaches that were rewarding and useful. Here is a list of tips for conquering the BEHEMOTH!
I cannot emphasize enough the first and crucial step to real progress when studying for the behemoth. Taking the MCAT as soon as possible insures you put your best foot forward when it comes to this test. The nature of the MCAT is deceiving. The sheer volume of material under its umbrella suggests one has to review all of it before even looking at a practice question. Not the case! As a pre-med student hoping to take this entrance exam, you have taken a majority of the coursework that will be on the test. As a result, you should have some grasp of the concept that the test covers. By taking the practice test before beginning to study intensively, you highlight the areas that need revision while nothing the subjects that give you little trouble. This way, the one can maximize the time spent studying where it is needed most.
Stop replacing coffee with its natural analogue—sleep. The tendency to choose the bitter elixir for much needed fuel is tempting but problematic. By increasing the amount you sleep rather than one’s coffee intake, you maximize productivity while studying and increase your retention.
When I began studying for the MCAT, I stopped drinking coffee at the beginning of the semester. After weeks of rough adjustment, my sleep cycle regulated itself and my unknown reserves of natural energy sprang forth. Although I consequently spent more time sleeping and napping rather than grinding though the Princeton review, I grasped the material much more readily. Although coffee and intense study works for cramming, it does not help much on the MCAT. The slow and steady and sleepy approach works better.
Rewards for chunks of work
During a study period, I made sure to include times to goof off and relax rather than marathons of organic chemistry. I would study for chunks of time, no more than two hours before doing something else. In addition, the two hour study periods were divided into 45 minutes of study and 15 min of reward. The fifteen minutes of reward can be anything, I surfed reddit, ate starbucks scones, or looked for a smooch. In addition, those times were used to refill my water bottle and visit the little boy’s room. However, when those minutes were over, my attention was on MCAT. No internet, no texting, no distractions. In this way, the time spent on the material was approachable and bearable. After two hours were up, I spent an hour and a half of intense study.
Work hard,Play hard.
If you have worked, you should play hard. For instance, a week of hard work was one where I averaged 3 hours of study per day. If I had reached that quota, parties and socials were on the table. I would reward myself with gusto, drawing the line only when the activity would disrupt my sleep cycle.
If you work hard, go out, enjoy friends and the world around you because soon you’ll be back to studying the MCAT.