Everything You Need to Know About Taking the MCAT Exam

MedSchoolCoach
18 Dec 201952:29
EducationalLearning
32 Likes 10 Comments

TLDRThis script offers an in-depth overview of the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), discussing its unique format and the rationale behind its reputation as the most challenging pre-health exam. It breaks down the four main sections of the MCAT, emphasizing the importance of understanding chemistry, physics, biochemistry, biology, and social sciences. The role of the MCAT in admissions, scoring system, and the significance of a good MCAT score are also highlighted. Additionally, the script provides valuable tips on how to prepare for the MCAT, including content review, practice questions, and the use of supplemental resources like videos and flashcards. It advises on the importance of taking diagnostic tests for self-assessment and the benefits of using AAMC practice materials over third-party resources.

Takeaways
  • 📚 The MCAT exam is considered the hardest pre-health exam, covering a range of subjects including chemistry, physics, biochemistry, organic chemistry, biology, psychology, sociology, and critical analysis and reasoning skills.
  • 🕒 The MCAT consists of four sections: chem-phys, CARS, bio-biochem, and psych-soc, each with specific content weights and testing different skills and knowledge areas.
  • 📉 The MCAT scoring system ranges from 118 to 132 per section with an average score of 125, aiming for a total score of 500 or above to be competitive for medical school admissions.
  • 🧠 The CARS section tests critical analysis and reasoning skills rather than scientific knowledge, emphasizing the importance of reading comprehension and critical thinking.
  • 🔗 The MCAT is designed to test the ability to connect and apply knowledge across different subjects, which differs from typical college courses that focus on single subjects.
  • ⏳ The MCAT is a lengthy exam, requiring endurance and the ability to maintain focus for up to seven and a half hours.
  • 📝 MCAT questions are multiple-choice and cover both passage-based and free-standing questions, with no guessing penalty, encouraging students to answer all questions.
  • 📚 The importance of studying biochemistry cannot be overstated as it is the second most tested subject on the MCAT.
  • 📈 A good MCAT score varies but generally should be competitive enough to get an application reviewed by medical schools, with an aim for a balanced score across all sections.
  • 📅 Planning is crucial; MCAT should be taken before the medical school application cycle begins in June to ensure scores are received in time for early application submission.
  • 📝 AAMC practice questions are the most valuable resource for MCAT preparation, providing the closest reflection of the actual exam questions.
Q & A
  • Why is the MCAT considered the hardest pre-health exam?

    -The MCAT is considered the hardest pre-health exam because it covers a broad range of subjects simultaneously and requires the ability to connect different subjects together, unlike typical pre-med courses which focus on one subject at a time.

  • What are the four sections of the MCAT exam?

    -The four sections of the MCAT exam are Chem-Phys (Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems), CARS (Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills), Bio-Biochem (Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems), and Psych-Soc (Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior).

  • What does the Chem-Phys section cover in terms of subject matter?

    -The Chem-Phys section covers 30% general chemistry, 25% physics, 25% biochemistry, 15% organic chemistry, and 5% biology.

  • How is the CARS section different from the other sections of the MCAT?

    -The CARS section is different because it does not test any knowledge of science. Instead, it assesses the ability to read texts from social studies and humanities topics and think critically about the text.

  • What is the significance of the Psych-Soc section being the newest section of the MCAT?

    -The significance of the Psych-Soc section being the newest is that it is somewhat of a mystery, and as a result, there is less information available about what is tested in this section compared to the other sections.

  • How long is each of the three science sections on the MCAT exam?

    -Each of the three science sections on the MCAT exam is 95 minutes long.

  • What is the scoring system for the MCAT exam?

    -The MCAT exam has a scoring system where each of the four sections is scored between 118 and 132, with 118 being the lowest possible score and 132 being the highest possible score, and the average score being 125.

  • Why are AAMC practice questions considered the best for MCAT preparation?

    -AAMC practice questions are considered the best for MCAT preparation because they are written by the creators of the MCAT and are from previous actual MCAT exams, making them the closest representation of the actual exam.

  • What is the recommended approach to studying for the MCAT exam?

    -The recommended approach to studying for the MCAT exam includes content review, practice with AAMC and high-quality third-party practice questions, and using supplemental resources like MCAT videos, flashcards, and study guides.

  • How can taking a diagnostic test help in preparing for the MCAT?

    -Taking a diagnostic test helps in identifying weak areas that need more focus and stronger areas where less time can be spent. It also provides a baseline to measure progress and helps in planning a study schedule.

  • What are some of the pitfalls of using third-party practice questions from large companies like Kaplan and Princeton Review?

    -Third-party practice questions from large companies like Kaplan and Princeton Review may not be as accurate or representative of the actual MCAT exam, as they often recycle questions from the old exams and have not created new questions specifically for the current format of the MCAT.

  • Why is it important to review the AAMC MCAT Content Outline during preparation?

    -The AAMC MCAT Content Outline is important to review because it provides a comprehensive list of every topic tested on the MCAT exam, allowing students to ensure they are familiar with all the necessary content areas.

  • What are some of the challenges with the Psych-Soc section of the MCAT exam?

    -The Psych-Soc section presents challenges because it is the newest section, and there is less information available about what is tested. The content outline is not very detailed for this section, and not every topic listed has been tested on the MCAT yet.

  • How does the MCAT exam differ from typical college science exams in terms of question format?

    -The MCAT exam differs from typical college science exams in that it is a multiple-choice test, unlike most college exams which may be free-response. The MCAT also includes passage-based questions, which require applying scientific knowledge to new information presented in passages, rather than just recalling memorized facts.

  • What is the recommended approach for selecting third-party practice questions for MCAT preparation?

    -The recommended approach for selecting third-party practice questions is to choose questions from companies that created their practice questions specifically for the new MCAT exam launched in 2015, such as Next Step and UWorld, rather than large companies that recycled questions from the old exam.

  • Why is it not advisable to use someone else's flashcards or study guides for MCAT preparation?

    -Using someone else's flashcards or study guides is not advisable because they may contain personalized mnemonics or concepts specific to the creator, which may not make sense to the user. It is better to create one's own flashcards or study guides to ensure a deeper understanding of the material.

Outlines
00:00
📚 Introduction to the MCAT Exam Structure and Significance

The video begins by addressing the unique format of the MCAT exam, which is considered the most challenging pre-health exam. It is more difficult than other health science school exams such as the DAT, OAT, and PCAT. The MCAT consists of four sections: Chem-Phys (Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems), CARS (Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills), Bio-Biochem (Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems), and Psych-Soc (Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior). The speaker emphasizes the importance of the MCAT in the admissions process and discusses what constitutes a good MCAT score.

05:03
🔬 Breakdown of the MCAT's Chem-Phys and Bio-Biochem Sections

This paragraph delves into the specifics of the MCAT's Chem-Phys and Bio-Biochem sections. The Chem-Phys section covers general chemistry, physics, biochemistry, organic chemistry, and a small portion of biology. The Bio-Biochem section is heavily focused on biology and biochemistry, with additional topics in general chemistry and organic chemistry. The speaker highlights the need for advanced biology courses to better prepare for the exam's detailed requirements.

10:05
🧐 The Challenge of Integrating Diverse Subjects in the MCAT

The speaker explains that the MCAT is distinct from typical pre-med courses due to its simultaneous testing of multiple subjects. Unlike college exams that focus on a single subject, the MCAT requires考生 to connect concepts across chemistry, physics, and biology, applying them to new situations introduced in the exam passages. This integration of subjects poses a significant challenge for many students.

15:05
🕒 Understanding the MCAT's Timing and Endurance Demands

The MCAT's length is a critical factor, with the exam lasting seven and a half hours, divided into four lengthy sections. The speaker stresses the importance of endurance, suggesting that full-length practice exams are essential to prepare for the test's duration. The scoring system is also introduced, with each section scored between 118 and 132, averaging out to a total of 500 for an average performance.

20:07
🎯 The Importance of Timing and Strategic Registration for the MCAT

This section discusses the importance of taking the MCAT before the medical school application period begins in June. The speaker advises registering for the MCAT as early as possible, as test dates and centers fill up quickly. It is recommended that students aim to take the MCAT by May to ensure their scores do not delay their application submission.

25:07
📈 MCAT's Role in Medical School Admissions and the Impact of Scores

The MCAT plays a significant role in medical school admissions, alongside other factors like personal statements, letters of recommendation, experiences, and awards. The speaker notes that while schools claim to use a holistic review process, there is initial filtering based on numerical factors like GPA and MCAT scores. A good MCAT score is crucial for getting an application reviewed and potentially leading to an interview and acceptance.

30:09
📚 Study Strategies for the MCAT: Content Review and Practice

The speaker outlines the essential steps for studying for the MCAT, starting with content review to ensure a thorough understanding of the prerequisite courses in subjects like chemistry, physics, biology, and biochemistry. The importance of biochemistry is emphasized due to its significant presence on the exam. Following content review, the speaker stresses the need for practice, particularly with AAMC-provided questions, to learn how to apply knowledge to MCAT-style questions.

35:10
🚫 Caution Against Overly Complex Third-Party MCAT Practice Questions

The speaker warns against relying too heavily on third-party practice questions, as they can be overly complex and test exceptions rather than the general concepts emphasized on the actual MCAT. It is advised that students use AAMC practice questions as the primary study resource, as they are the most representative of the actual exam. Third-party questions can be supplementary but should be used cautiously.

40:11
📝 The Value of Diagnostic Tests in Identifying MCAT Preparation Needs

Diagnostic tests are recommended for students to gauge their starting point for MCAT preparation. The speaker explains that while initial scores on diagnostic tests may be disappointing, they provide valuable insights into a student's strengths and weaknesses. Special attention is given to the CARS section, as some medical school admissions committees consider it the most important part of the exam.

45:12
📚 Selecting Third-Party Practice Questions and Supplemental Resources for MCAT

The speaker advises students on selecting third-party practice questions, recommending Next Step and UWorld for their quality and relevance to the post-2015 MCAT format. The speaker also discusses supplemental resources like Khan Academy videos, flashcards, and study guides, emphasizing that these should be used in conjunction with comprehensive content review and practice with AAMC questions.

50:14
🤔 Considerations for Advanced Biology and Biochemistry Courses in MCAT Preparation

The speaker addresses the question of whether to take advanced biology and biochemistry courses to better prepare for the MCAT. While these courses can provide deeper content knowledge, they may also risk affecting a student's GPA or delaying their application cycle. The decision should be based on individual circumstances and advice from upperclassmen who have taken the courses and the MCAT.

📑 Utilizing the AAMC MCAT Content Outline for Comprehensive Preparation

The AAMC MCAT Content Outline is highlighted as a crucial resource for students to ensure they are studying all topics tested on the MCAT. The speaker explains that while the outline is not comprehensive, it serves as a checklist to identify unfamiliar topics that require further study. The outline should be used in conjunction with MCAT books and practice questions to cover all necessary content.

🧐 Navigating the Challenges of the Psych-Soc Section and Its Evolving Content

The speaker discusses the unique challenges of the Psych-Soc section, which is the newest part of the MCAT and has less available practice material. While the content outline for this section is not detailed and not all topics have been tested, the speaker reassures students that by studying thoroughly using MCAT books, they will be better prepared than the average student, which is key to performing well on the exam.

Mindmap
Keywords
💡MCAT
The MCAT, or Medical College Admission Test, is a standardized exam required for admission to most medical schools in the United States and Canada. It is central to the video's theme as the speaker discusses its format, difficulty, and significance in the pre-health exam landscape. The script mentions the MCAT being harder than other health science school exams like the DAT, OAT, and PCAT.
💡Chem-Phys Section
The 'Chem-Phys Section' refers to the Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems section of the MCAT. It is one of the four sections of the exam and is highlighted in the script as covering a range of subjects including general chemistry, physics, biochemistry, organic chemistry, and a small portion of biology. The speaker emphasizes the importance of understanding the diverse subjects within this section.
💡CARS Section
CARS stands for Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills, which is one of the four sections of the MCAT exam. The script explains that this section does not test scientific knowledge but rather assesses the ability to read and critically analyze texts from social studies and humanities. The CARS section is significant as it challenges test-takers to apply critical thinking skills.
💡Bio-Biochem Section
Short for Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems, this is another key section of the MCAT exam discussed in the script. It focuses predominantly on biology and biochemistry, with some overlap in topics covered in the chem-phys section. The speaker notes the importance of advanced biology courses in preparing for this section.
💡Psych-Soc Section
The Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior section, or 'Psych-Soc' for short, is the newest section of the MCAT exam. The script describes it as somewhat of a mystery due to its recency but confirms that it primarily tests psychology, with some sociology and a small amount of biology.
💡Endurance
In the context of the MCAT, 'endurance' refers to the physical and mental stamina required to complete the lengthy exam, which lasts seven and a half hours. The script suggests that building up endurance is a challenge for all students, and the best way to overcome this is by taking full-length practice exams.
💡Scoring System
The 'Scoring System' of the MCAT is a critical concept discussed in the script. Each of the four sections is scored between 118 and 132, with 118 being the lowest and 132 the highest possible score. The script explains that an average score of 125 in all sections results in a total score of 500, which is considered average for admission purposes.
💡Multiple Choice Test
The MCAT is characterized as a 'multiple choice test', which distinguishes it from many college exams that might be free-response. The script notes that while the MCAT has the advantage of being multiple choice, it also presents unique challenges, such as the inclusion of passage-based questions that require application of knowledge.
💡Passage-Based Questions
Passage-based questions are a significant component of the MCAT exam, making up 75% of the science sections, as mentioned in the script. These questions introduce new information and require test-takers to apply their knowledge to unfamiliar concepts, setting the MCAT apart from other pre-health exams.
💡Content Review
In the script, 'content review' refers to the process of revisiting and refreshing one's understanding of the science content tested on the MCAT. It is presented as a foundational step in MCAT preparation, emphasizing the importance of reviewing material from prerequisite courses.
💡Diagnostic Test
A 'diagnostic test' is suggested in the script as an initial step for MCAT preparation. It involves taking a practice exam to gauge one's starting point and identify areas of strength and weakness. The script highlights the importance of this approach in creating a balanced study plan.
Highlights

The MCAT exam is considered the hardest pre-health exam, surpassing the DAT, OAT, and PCAT.

The MCAT consists of four sections: chem-phys, CARS, bio-biochem, and pych-soc.

Chem-phys section covers chemistry, physics, biochemistry, organic chemistry, and biology.

CARS section tests critical analysis and reasoning skills without any science content.

Bio-biochem section emphasizes biology and biochemistry with some chemistry.

Psych-soc section focuses on psychology, sociology, and a small portion of biology.

The MCAT is known for testing the application of knowledge rather than rote memorization.

Scoring on the MCAT ranges from 118 to 132 per section, with an average score of 125.

There is no guessing penalty on the MCAT, so all questions should be attempted.

75% of science section questions are passage-based, requiring application of new information.

The MCAT is a multiple-choice test with the same point value for each question.

Test dates for the MCAT are available from January through September, excluding February.

Submitting medical school applications early is advantageous due to more available seats and less stringent admissions.

AAMC practice questions are recommended over third-party sources for better accuracy in reflecting the actual MCAT.

Diagnostic tests, particularly from AAMC, are valuable for identifying initial strengths and weaknesses.

Content review and practice are essential components of MCAT preparation.

Supplemental resources like Khan Academy videos and flashcards can aid in specific topic understanding but shouldn't replace comprehensive review.

The AAMC MCAT Content Outline is a useful document for ensuring coverage of all tested topics.

Transcripts
Rate This

5.0 / 5 (0 votes)

Thanks for rating: