MCAT Content Review
Along with the use of excellent MCAT resources, spaced repetition, practice questions, and full-length practice tests, MCAT content review is an essential element of preparing for your exam. Contrary to what you may think, there is a right way to do MCAT content review. What is the best way to approach working through so much difficult material? Let’s find out!
Which MCAT Content Review Method Works Best?
There are a lot of MCAT resources out there when it comes to content review, from content books such as Kaplan and The Princeton Review to Khan Academy’s MCAT review videos. How do you choose between them, and which is the best MCAT content review resource? The answer to this is… it depends.
Generally, the MCAT content review resources can be categorized by the type of resource they are. For example, Kaplan is a written “textbook” style resource, while Khan Academy is a visual and auditory style resource. When it comes to picking between these types of resources, you should choose what works best for you based on your independent learning style. If you are someone that works better with highlighting text and moving through written material, any of the textbook-style resources like Kaplan should work well for you. If you are someone that absorbs information better by listening to a lecture on the material or having a visual representation of what you’re learning, visual/auditory resources like Khan Academy would be best.
One efficient way around not picking between them exists as well. If you know that there are certain subjects you are proficient in, say, biology and chemistry, you can briefly review those using a written resource, and thus save time. For the concepts you have difficulty with, you can refer to a Khan Academy video on the subject and get more in-depth exposure to it. This targeted review allows you to spend more time on strengthening your weaker areas and use your study time efficiently.
The reason we want to pursue the most efficient method for MCAT content review is because content review is perhaps the most inefficient part of prepping for the MCAT. Generally, you will receive more benefit from practice questions and/or from practice tests—but you need a solid foundation of knowledge to start from.
How To Approach MCAT Content Review
There are a few ways to spice up your content review and make it more active and engaging than simply reading through MCAT resources. One way of reinforcing what you review is by making flashcards on the material. Anki is an excellent MCAT resource to maximize spaced repetition of important topics. This is more advantageous to simple note-taking because it uses the active recall system and allows you to poll or quiz yourself and see if you are absorbing the material. Taking notes while reading through MCAT content can be helpful in jotting down high-yield bits of information, but it is difficult to go back and review those notes, especially when there is so much content to get through. In addition, certain written textbooks have little end-of-chapter quizzes that help with retaining information and testing yourself as well.
Another way of supplementing the material you review is by doing practice questions related to the subject. These questions can come from question banks such as the official AAMC ones or from third-party review companies like UWorld. Not only will practice questions help you recognize content areas you are succeeding at or struggling in, but UWorld has excellent explanations for questions in addition to having written MCAT content review that would help fill in those gaps.
The goal of this is to not overemphasize content review and instead try to focus on problems and learning from your mistakes, which is where the bulk of your learning and review will take place. This is especially true if you have already taken the prerequisite classes and worked through the relevant material before. During this time, you may find that you have content gaps, or that you don’t understand concepts as well as you think you do. This is an important part of the process! Understanding that you do not know something is the first step towards learning it, and the next step is to go back to your MCAT resources, or find another appropriate resource, and work through this content gap in a pointed and structured manner. Once you are thinking critically while solving questions and getting them wrong, the explanation will point to you the exact areas you need to review.
Content review is a necessary part of the process of preparing for the MCAT, but if you do not supplement it with some form of active learning or test your content gaps, you will plateau in your review. In this sense, content review never ends. Content review is something you will do up until you take your exam, and the process of preparing for the MCAT will always test your knowledge and teach you something new. Though it can be a difficult or stressful time, take a moment to acknowledge how much you are learning.
Elite Medical Prep is your one stop destination for all information and tips pertaining to effectively preparing for the MCAT exam. We also offer MCAT tutoring to give your preparation the boost and targeted focus it needs. When it comes to achieving your medical school dreams, you can only rely on experienced mentors who have traveled the route themselves. Our tutors are highly knowledgeable and expert MDs who have taken the exam themselves.