Using Khan Academy MCAT Materials to Prepare for Your Exam
Khan Academy MCAT materials encompass both content review and practice questions, making it one of the most comprehensive and one of the best free MCAT resources that certainly shouldn’t be overlooked when deciding which MCAT prep resources to use. In this post, we’ll be discussing how to set up a study schedule to use Khan Academy for MCAT prep.
What Kinds of Khan Academy MCAT Materials Can You Expect to Find?
The free MCAT material provided by Khan Academy is split up into practice passages and units. The units encompass the content review portion of Khan Academy while the passages are akin to those you might find in practice exams or question banks. Khan Academy provides practice passages for each section of the MCAT: Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS), Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems, Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems, and Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behaviors. The content units are divided up by topic, with each unit containing subtopics with short videos overviewing important high yield content. At the end of every subtopic, there are practice questions to test learning and retention. The Khan Academy units cover a great portion of the content seen on the MCAT, and their video format is often preferable to students who learn better by listening and watching lectures rather than reading textbooks.
Devise Your MCAT Study Schedule Using Khan Academy MCAT Materials
Let’s start by talking about the units in Khan Academy and how to divide up videos onto a schedule to which you can stay adherent and not be too overwhelmed with having to watch hours of videos per day. First, figure out how many weeks you have until your MCAT and how much you can study per day. If you’re working or still in school, this may only be a few hours per day, or if you’re taking time off to study for the MCAT, you might be able to study 8+ plus per day. It is important when creating your MCAT study schedule, to be honest with yourself. It is easy and natural to be optimistic about how much work you can get done in a day, but remember you also need time for ample sleep, exercise, social activities, and life chores. I recommend when creating a study schedule to start a little on the conservative side. You can always do more videos per day and adjust your schedule if you find yourself finishing your daily tasks with extra time, but it can be discouraging and difficult to rearrange your MCAT study schedule if you get really behind and end up crunched for time before test day.
Next, determine how many videos there are in total for each unit and how long it will take you to watch them all. Then divide the individual subtopics up within the unit on a calendar based on how many hours you can study per day. I like having my students put their daily tasks onto a google calendar or iCal, so you know exactly what you need to do for each day. It’s okay to have to move things around as you start studying, life happens, but it is helpful to have a framework and specific to-do list for each day. It is important to not just watch the Khan Academy videos but continue to review and practice the material you’ve learned.
Take advantage of the practice questions at the end of each unit. I would recommend doing the practice questions for a particular unit the day after you finish that unit. This way, you won’t have just seen the material and you can get a more accurate assessment of how well you remembered the content. A question I often get asked when tutoring for USMLE Step 1 or the MCAT is how to best review content from a video lecture. Depending on your learning style, either Anki flashcards or physical note-taking and outlining work well. I recommend Anki, as the spaced repetition algorithm continues to bring around topics and prevents you from forgetting them. Either making your own Anki cards or using a pre-made deck based on Khan Academy is fine, but ensure you are truly understanding the flashcards and the content on each card if you use a pre-made deck. If you are planning to use Anki as a partner to Khan Academy videos, make sure to account for the review time in your study schedule. Anki works best when you stay on top of your reviews and don’t let cards pile up. Similarly, if you plan on outlining sections as a review exercise, give yourself time in your study calendar for the important but often overlooked task of active reviewing and recall.
Incorporating Practice Questions Into Your MCAT Study Schedule
Practice questions are equally as important as reviewing content when studying for the MCAT. To add the free Khan Academy MCAT practices passages into your study schedule, count how many there are and spread them out over your calendar. You can either try to align the practice passages with the content you are reviewing, for example doing biology passages when you’re watching biology videos, or randomly assign the passages across your schedule to keep you on your toes and making connections across the disciplines. There are merits to both strategies, so choose what seems more natural to you.
On the topic of practice materials, I recommend doing multiple full-length practice exams before test day. Nothing better prepares you for the real deal than doing full-length practice exams! Khan Academy does not have any full-length practice exams available, but some other companies offer free half or full-length practice exams, so there are some options for keeping costs low. Otherwise, full-length practice exams are available for purchase from the AAMC and other test prep companies.
Overall, Khan Academy is a great free resource to use when preparing for the MCAT, especially when coupled with active reviewing through either flashcards or note-taking/outlining. One of the most important things to consider when preparing for the MCAT is planning a study schedule with resources that work for your learning style. Check out our website and other blog posts for tips on how to set up a personalized study schedule, how to know when you are ready to take your exam, decide on MCAT study resources, tutoring, and more!