Using UWorld for MCAT Prep
When preparing for the MCAT, students can often feel overwhelmed by the vast number and variety of resources available, but considering UWorld as a primary source for your MCAT prep is a good place to start. Determining a small number of resources to regularly and consistently use is critical to success when considering how to study for the MCAT. The best way to think about the resources that are optimal for your studying is to think about the skills you need to excel on the exam. The MCAT requires you to not only know the necessary content but also requires you to be able to interpret questions and apply the content to those questions over the course of the whole exam. Knowing this, you can break down your resources based on their ability to 1) strengthen your content base, 2) better your question interpretation, and 3) get you in the mindset of the exam. In this post, I will talk about how UWorld spans each of these categories and how you can integrate UWorld into your MCAT prep.
Why Practice Questions Are Important
Doing practice questions is a great way of preparing for most exams. After all, practice makes perfect. This is precisely because of their unique ability to address each of the categories mentioned above. By doing practice questions, you are actively assessing your content knowledge. While it is certainly important to have a resource dedicated to learning the content and developing your fundamental understanding of the concepts, questions can help you assess how well you learned those concepts. You can think about questions as a way to triage your strengths and weaknesses. Using UWorld for MCAT prep will allow you to spend more time and focus on your weaknesses.
Aside from strengthening your content base, doing practice questions allows you to practice your test-taking skills. Inherently, by doing practice questions, you will begin to think question interpretation. A good portion of the challenge some students face is determining what exactly a question is asking and how test-makers want you to apply the content. There are only a certain number of ways that examiners can ask particular questions. The more questions you do, the more you will begin to recognize these patterns.
Lastly, doing timed and blocked questions can get you in the mindset of the exam. This will allow you to be cognizant of your timing. Additionally, you will begin to build your endurance. This will make sure that when you get to test day, there are no new surprises.
UWorld for MCAT Questions
UWorld provides 2000+ questions that are designed to be comparable to the AAMC questions. The questions are categorized into the seven subjects assessed on the exam. You are given the option of whether you would like to do these questions one by one (in tutor mode) or in a block similar to the exam. You also have the option to do these questions timed or untimed. Arguably, the best part of UWorld is the robust answer explanations and figures corresponding to the question prompts. This allows you to determine if the reason you missed the question was due to a content deficiency and provides you the information you need to address that deficiency.
Integrating UWorld Questions Into Your MCAT Prep Schedule
There are several ways you can integrate UWorld into your study workflow. One great way that I have seen students use UWorld is by doing the questions in parallel with their content review. For example, after reviewing a biochemistry section on amino acids and proteins, you could do the corresponding UWorld questions to assess how well you understood and remembered the content. This can also give you an idea of whether or not you need to go back and review the content again in a more focused manner. While you can start doing your questions in a tutor and untimed mode to get an understanding of the questions and the format, as you approach your exam date it will be better to shift out of tutor mode and into timed question mode. This will help you regularly be in the mindset of the exam and, as mentioned above, will leave no surprises for the MCAT exam day.
One important concept to keep in mind when approaching any QBank is that quality is better than quantity. With more and more questions being made across many resources, it is critical that you avoid the trap of setting out to do all unique questions that are available. It is much more productive to focus on ensuring that you are getting as much as you can out of one or two main sources of questions. After doing the questions, you should make sure that you are spending an adequate amount of time reviewing the questions. Be sure to think about why you missed a particular question. You should also have a system in place for making sure that you will not make the same mistake again whether that be using UWorld’s in-built flashcards or creating Anki cards relating to your weak topics.