Super Star Blogs!

What Should I be Doing as a Premed???

Nobody needs to tell you how competitive it is to get into medical school.  The road is long and tough!  According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, only 21,030 of the 53,042 applicants matriculated to medical school in 2016. This is equates to roughly 40% (and keep in mind, those ~53,000 students are already among the best in the nation). There is no doubt things are becoming more and competitive. Here are a few things you can be doing right now to boost your chances:

1. Get to Know Your Premed Advisor: Premed advisors are your friend! The moment you decide you want to pursue a career in medicine is the moment you should be setting up a meeting with your advisor. Most major academic centers have a pre-health advising group. These individuals are there to guide you to success. You’d be wise to take advantage of this resource!

2. Get a Mentor: It is essential that you have solid guidance. A good mentor should be a person who can offer advice and support for you because they have successfully accomplished what you aspire to do. You should have a short term mentor who recently took the same course, completed the MCAT or applied to medical school. At the same time, you should also have a long term mentor who can provide you with insight on the good and bad of medicine, connect you with other physicians and possibly write your letter of recommendation. You may consider asking your family doctor to serve as a mentor.

3. Set Your Goals: If you have not done so yet, grab a notebook and write down your goals. There are a few things to keep in mind when writing. You need to have short-term, intermediate-term and long-term goals. These goals should be measurable with targets and deadlines. Know what your goals are for the school year and the summer. Pick 1 or 2 people to serve as your accountability partners and share these goals with them. When you reach your goal make sure to celebrate and if you don’t, just dust yourself off and try again.

4. Get Involved: This is a broad area but this is what will set you apart from the tens of thousands who apply. With so many applicants to choose from, medical schools seek for well-rounded students. If you are not already one, you need to become a leader in an organization. If you find this to be too difficult then start your own organization on campus. Begin looking into local hospitals to volunteer at and start this as early as you can. This may open up doors for shadowing opportunities.

5. Google Yourself: Social media can cost or enhance your chances of making it to medical school. It is worthwhile typing your name in an online search to see what pops up. Many students deactivate their accounts or change their profile names when the interview season comes around. Many premed students don’t realize that social media can also be used to their advantage. For example, you should use PreMed StAR to build a positive premedical profile that medical school recruiters can easily find. Do not simply eliminate your online presence but instead, optimize it by putting yourself out there in a positive way. Take advantage of technology.

•Do Your Homework: Learn as much as you can about medicine. This is exactly what you are currently doing by reading this blog. There are many resources available to help you gain an advantage. Research the path to becoming a doctor, the different specialties that exist, the difference between an MD and a DO, etc. Be certain that being a medical doctor is your true passion.

Okay, you know what to do…get to work!

Tips for a 4.0- This is Your Semester

Well future doctors, it’s that time again!  Winter break has come and gone, and now we are in a new year!  Regardless of your gpa last semester (1.0 or 4.0), we’re all starting over for the new semester.  This semester you CAN get a 4.0!  It’s time to shine!  Sure, getting a 4.0 sounds wonderful, but it’s easier said than done.  Nonetheless, it’s possible!  Here are 5 tips to help you do it!

  1. Write Down Your Goal. Perhaps the most important thing pertaining to achievement is you must have something which you want to achieve.  If you don’t set any goals, then you will never accomplish any goals.  As a premedical student, your goal every semester should be to get a 4.0.  Yes, EVERY semester, you should aim for a 4.0.  Even if you made a 1.0 last semester, this is the semester that you can get a 4.0.  Try this out.  print out a large sign that says “4.0” and staple (or tape or hang) it above your bed, on your mirror, or your door.  Just put it in a place that you HAVE to see it every day before leaving.  Hold yourself accountable so there’s no escaping it!  The simple act of writing down the goal will make it real to you!
  2. Write down your Plan. Having a goal will only take you so far.  Telling yourself that you want a 4.0 has a nice ring to it, but means nothing without a strategy to achieve it. There are many ways to strategize a 4.0, but a few things you should address include: Who will you study with? When will you go to your professors’ office hours?  Which classes will you get a tutor for?  What strategies did students in before you use to do well in these classes?
  3. Socialize with the right people. Last week’s blog on “Friends” hits the nail on the head.  The people you are surrounded by will impact your level of success.  If you want to make a 4.0, hang out with people who make 4.0s.  This is not to say that you should get rid of your other friends, but rather, you should also have friends who excel in the areas of your interests.
  4. Pre-Read. Do your best this semester to have always looked over the material BEFORE class.  You do not necessarily have to master the topic, but you should never enter a lecture without pre-reading (or pre-skimming) the topic of discussion.
  5. Sit in the front of the class. This might be the easiest thing you can do which will provide the largest impact on your grade.  A simple change in your seat can make all the difference.  By sitting in front, you become more engaged in your own learning.  All the distractions from looking at people on their cell phones will immediately go away and the only thing you can look at is your professor and his or her slides.  Sit in front!

When it’s all said and done, if you want a 4.0, you’re going to have to work for it!  Tell you friends and family that you’ll be a little more busy this semester because it’s game time.  It’s challenging, but every good things requires sacrifice.  This is your semester!


Image Credit Pixabay

That’s What Friends Are For!

“Show me your friends and I will show you your future.: – Anon
“Birds of a feather flock together.” -Ancient proverb
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time around.” -Jim Rohn
“Do not be deceived: bad company corrupts good character.” -1 Corinthians 15:33

What do these four quotes mean to you? When asked by premeds for tips on how to make it to medical school, I always start with the tip I believe to be most important; choose the right friends and let go of the wrong ones. There is little to question here. Your friends will make or break your chances to reach your goals. The sooner you realize this and remedy it the better off you will be. I encourage you to list your five closest friends and determine which category they belong in (friend, associate, or neither). Here are some characteristics one should consider in this selection and elimination process.

1) Do they have similar goals as I do?  This in no way means that your closest friends should all be premed. In fact, I would highly discourage such a monotonous network. If you are aiming to become a professional (in this case a physician) then you may want to consider spending more time with people who have like-minded aspirations. There are many premeds I speak to who cannot appreciate what they are capable of achieving because no one around them has broken that barrier or has even set a goal to do so.

2) Are they positive thinking?  We have all encountered the “Debbie Downer” who constantly rains on your parade. While you don’t want someone around you who is overly optimistic and sugar-coating everything, it is good to have practical friends that offer a good balance and perspective of your challenges. A good friend should always tell you the truth (even when it hurts) but he or she should always aim to keep your spirits and dreams alive even during your darkest hour.

3) Is he or she looking out for my best interest?  Beware, there are many wolves in sheep’s clothing out there. A friend should be happy for you even when they don’t score quite as high as you did. They should inform you of tips they picked up from others and not keep you in the dark. In medical school, you will quickly become familiar with the word “gunner”. This is a descriptive term for students who are ambitious to a fault. They will step on each other’s toes, tear pages out of a text book so others miss out, and even befriend others simply to sabotage them. There are some premeds that behave this was as well so make sure to be cautious.

4) Is my friend focused?
You should not surround yourself with people who talk the talk but are incapable of walking it due to distractions. A focused friend will call you weekly to study. He or she will have short-term and long-term goals. It is always nice to have at least one “spreadsheet” guy or gal in the group. You know, the type of person who is very organized and goal oriented. A non-focused person will always tempt you with the parties and activities which will ultimately pull you away from your goal.

5) Do I feel like a better person when I am around this person?  There are some individuals we know we have no business hanging around. These are often the ones that your parents or significant other disapprove of. Be true to yourself. Is this person making you a better person all around? Do your other friends feel comfortable around this person? Are you constantly getting into trouble when around this person? Are your conversations primarily productive or counterproductive?

Again, I cannot emphasize how essential friends are in the successes and failures of premeds. This holds true for life in general. You must realize that you are competing with very bright and focused individuals. Surrounding yourself genuinely with the very best is just as important as ridding yourself of the bad influencers. I can certainly appreciate the quote, “if you are the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room”. This is a good indicator for when change is needed. Now, after all of this is said and done make sure you take and introspective look realizing that you too serve as a friend.



Written by Dr. Daniel

Image credit Pixabay

Going Back to School to Pursue Medicine for Non-Traditional Students

“Medicine is a step that should be pursued with caution and only after careful consideration”. This was the advice given to me by one of my mentors before I decided for certain that I wanted to transition 180 degrees from engineering to become a physician. The path to becoming a medical doctor is difficult, long, and in today’s world almost hyper-competitive! The journey is challenging, physically, emotionally, and financially.  It becomes especially difficult if you are a mid-level employee with a stable job that pays you a steady income with a comfortable retirement and benefits package.

Becoming a full-time student entails leaving that comfy desk job along with its perks to pursue a career choice that will not pay you a significant amount on which to support yourself, let alone an entire family for at least 4 years of schooling followed by a 3 year minimum residency. Also, there will be no comprehensive health insurance comparable to health insurance plans offered by most private employers, retirement (401K) package offered during the time you’re back in school or in training. Add to this the cost of a 4-year medical degree; the cost of applying to medical schools, paying for interview expenses out of pocket for both admissions and residency process and no wonder the average medical student is indebted with ~$250K in student loans!  Also, we need to keep in mind that the average young physician may not be able to start paying off some of those loans until 7 years after they started medical school.  These factors can weigh heavily and pose as deterrents for older non-traditional students who have been out of school for some time. Having kids or being a single income parent or divorce’ imposes further financial limitations. I personally thought long and hard, made a systematic pros and cons list, then after some time, made the leap of faith.

First and foremost, any nontraditional student needs to be honest with themselves and do a thorough assessment of their motivation behind pursuing a career in medicine versus something similar in another industry. If the goal is simply to make more money or follow in the footsteps of rich parents or a successful relative who may have a private practice, those goals can be achieved much faster and perhaps more easily in another field. Becoming a physician more than any other profession requires a practical and realistic understanding of all the perils, not just at the initial phase but well beyond admission into medical school. If the objective is simply to feel content in helping others, there are plenty of other avenues to achieve that.

In my case, my uncle who did not start his residency until he was well into his 40’s made that decision easier for me by telling me to ask myself an easy question, “do I lose sleep over wanting to become a doctor and do I truly believe that my goals and ambitions cannot be fulfilled and realized by a comparable job or field?” If the answer is a resounding yes, then I should not think long about it and make up my mind without regret. He (as well as some of the physicians I have shadowed) also advised me not to look back or harbor uncertainty.  Rather, I should work as hard as I can towards achieving my dream. I was also advised to have a constant reminder that no one else but me decided to make this decision and embark on this arduous journey. Keeping this in perspective will help you stay self-motivated and enjoy your new journey to become a doctor. Adult life can be complicated and full of tough decisions; the decision to partake the challenges of medical school need not be one!

Letters of Recommendation- 5 Tips for Premeds

Yes, yes, yes….we all know you’re great.  You’re the best premedical student in the world.  You’ve won this award, that award, and they even created a new award just for you!  You’re just so awesome!  Well, at least that’s what you tell the medical schools.  Sure, you’re probably telling the truth, but the medical schools also want to hear it from someone else.

As a premedical student, it is of utmost importance that you understand and appreciate the significance of your rec letters.  The truth is, a LOT of premedical students are just as good as you.  They’ve won awards, they have great grades and test scores, many have done research and published, etc. etc.  So, when you have so many students who are great candidates based on their individual accomplishments, the next step is to ask people who know you whether or not they’ll be good doctors.  This is why your letters of recommendation are so important.  You have to make them count in your favor!  Here are 5 tips to accomplish that:

  1. Care about people. This sounds obvious, but we’re going to say it anyways because it is the foundation of medicine.  If you truly care about people, it will be evident in your day to day interactions.  You’ll ask your professors how they are doing.  You’ll know if they have kids.  You’ll know why they chose their fields.  If you care about people, these are natural topics of discussion that arise early in a relationship.  Remember, your professors are human too and want to be treated that way.
  2. Keep in Touch. Often, the best letters of recommendation come from professors who have known you for some years.  You may have taken an entry level chemistry course your first semester in college and performed very well.  If you kept in touch with that professor and let him or her know how things were progressing for you on your premedical journey, you’ll get a better rec letter than the student who got your same grade, but didn’t stay in touch.  This again goes back to caring about people and building a relationship.  Keep in mind, most of what doctors do revolves around relationships with patients and colleagues.  You can be the smartest person in the room, but if you don’t know how to relate to people, it’ll mean nothing.
  3. Ask For Your Letter Early. A horrible mistake that many premedical students make is that they wait too long to ask their letter writers for a recommendation.  This is bad on multiple levels.  First, it puts you towards the back of the line.  This means that by the time your professor (or whoever it is writing you the letter) gets to your name on their list, he or she may already have letter writer’s fatigue (writing rec letters isn’t the most fun thing to do).  Second, it might suggest to them that you didn’t have your act together.  Whys is it that other students have already asked, but you’re just now requesting your this?  So, when should you ask for the letter?  6 months advance!  This will put you in front of the line, and also allows you to space out your reminders (professors have a lot on their plates and may need a nudge from time to time to get the your letter completed and submitted).
  4. Ask for an “Excellent” letter. Another key mistake premedical students make is that they ask for “a letter of recommendation”.  What they should ask is “do you feel confident that you can write me an Excellent letter of recommendation.”  If you ask your professor this question and he or she says no, then you should consider finding someone else.  Medical school admission committee members can read between the lines.  Sometimes, it’s not what your letter writer says that matters, but what he or she doesn’t say.  In a sense, these letters are coded so a “good” letter means you are an okay student, but an “excellent” letter, means you are excellent.”
  5. Say thank you. Every pleasant interaction should end with a thank you.  Writing a letter of recommendation takes time.  This is time that the professor could be using to do other things, but instead is spending on you. A simple thank you message goes a long way to strengthening your relationship.  Don’t think that once the letter is submitted you’re off the hook and can go about your merry way.  Some admission committee members will contact your letter writer to get more information if a question arises.  If the person reviewing your application happens to be one of these people, you want to be sure that your professor knows you appreciate the time and effort he or she put into the letter.

Keep these 5 items in mind as you approach your medical school application.  What you say about yourself is fine, but what others say counts as well.  Getting excellent rec letters takes a little effort.  It all starts with you performing well in the presence of your professors and building a solid relationship ahead of time.



Image Credit: Pixabay

Bankrupt Before Medical School! – The Financial Burden of Applying

Medical school is expensive and the last thing you want is to be in serious debt before you even start.  Nowadays, students are applying to as many as 25 medical schools, and this certainly isn’t a cheap process.  When applying via AMCAS, students will pay $160 for the first application, then $38 for each subsequent application.

So, for the student who applies to 25 schools, that’s $1,072.  Oh ya, then there’s the cost of secondary applications, oh, let’s not forget plane tickets, hotels, food, etc. Let’s assume a student applies to 25 medical schools, submits 10 secondary applications, and interviews at 5 medical schools; you can approximate an overall cost of $3,000+. That’s a lot of money, especially for a college student who at the time of applying might not have any money.  But there is hope and you don’t have to go into debt during this process.  Here are 3 strategies to help you in the process.

  1. Save money ahead of time. Most students who apply to medical school don’t make the decision to apply the night before the portals open.  As a matter of fact, it’s likely that you started your college career with this dream in mind.  This being the case, premeds should start saving for the application process as soon as they decide to pursue a career in medicine.  Many students work a few hours a week in a research lab, library, tutoring center, or at a restaurant.  If it is at all possible, save some of that money in a special bank account…and don’t touch it!  $10 a week saved will go a long way towards your applications.
  2. Apply strategically. Too many students take the shotgun approach when applying to medical school.  They apply to schools that they’ve never even heard of, purely out of desperation to gain acceptance anywhere. Yes, it is true that medical school admission seems more competitive than ever (and that’s likely not going to change anytime soon in the current economic market), but you can still be wise when applying.  In other words, do your research on schools to find your best fit schools.  Take advantage of free resources such as PreMed StAR and local/national recruitment fairs (many fairs have travel awards) to showcase yourself as a great candidate and allow medical schools to reach out to you ahead of time and in doing so, demonstrate their interest.  Ultimately, you want to apply to schools where you have a good chance of gaining admission, otherwise, you might as well throw your money in the trash.
  3. Take advantage of assistance programs. Medical schools and application services understand that many premedical students simply can’t afford to apply to very many schools.  Because this is the case, they offer a variety of fee assistance programs (AMCAS Fee Assistance Program & AACOMAS Fee Assistance).

Utilizing these 3 strategies, premedical students should be able to avoid going into debt when applying to medical school.  In order to be successful at it, you have to be disciplined with saving, wise with your choices of schools to apply to, and resourceful in finding assistance to pay.  But still in the end, if you arrive at application day with no financial means, and if being a doctor is your destiny, you just may need to go into some debt.  In this case, keep in mind that it is just an investment, and if you perform well in medical school, the returns will be worthwhile.

Finish Strong – Preparing for Finals!

One of the most nerve wrecking times for pre-medical students is just after Thanksgiving.  During the Thanksgiving break, you go home, eat turkey, sleep a lot, and maybe watch some football.  You’re in bliss!  But the day you return back to class, you’re professors don’t hesitate the slightest bit to remind you that finals are just around the corner.

Finals are important for every pre-professional student, but the premedical student knows that in a science class, the difference between an A and B, or a B and C, can really make a difference in not just your cumulative, but specifically your science GPA.  This in turn may impact your medical school application.  Is your heart racing yet?  Are you nervous?  Well, don’t be!  Here are 5 tips to help you perform at your best!

  1. The first thing you should do is realize that one grade won’t make or break you. In the field of medicine, one bad day does not define how strong of a physician you are.  Doctors are judged based on their performance over time and this is how medical schools try to judge pre-medical students as well.  You should always aim to get the best grades possible, but don’t let the anxiety make you sweat.
  2. Start reviewing early. Here’s a thought, why not spend one hour a day during your Thanksgiving break to review your most challenging subject.  Assuming you sleep for 8 hours in a day, that still leaves you with 15 awake hours to enjoy yourself and relax.  Those 7 extra hours of review will put you farther ahead than your realize.
  3. Send your professor this email “Dear Dr. ____, I plan to begin reviewing for finals during my Thanksgiving break week, do you have any suggestions as to where I should focus my efforts?” A good professor should not be unethical and provide you with extra information pertaining to the specifics of what will be on the exam, however, he or she should give you an idea of what they perceive to be the important “take home” points for their course.
  4. Draft a study plan which you will use for the next 2-3 weeks in preparation for finals. This does not have to be a detailed plan, but you should at least have a general idea of how you plan to prioritize your study time.  This task should take into consideration a thoughtful calculation of how your cGPA and sGPA will be affected by various grades in your various courses.  It should also take in consideration your weak and strong areas.
  5. Don’t do it alone. Get your study group on your same mental wavelength.  You want to make sure that when you come together, they’re ready to hit the ground running.  Don’t underestimate the importance of studying with people who are just as determined for success as you are.

Finals are important and yes, they can be nerve wrecking; however, they don’t have to be.  Prepare your plan ahead of time so when it’s your turn to get in the game, you’ll be ready!

The Waiting Game…What to do after the application???

The medical school application cycle is well under way. You’ve taken the MCAT and completed your application to medical school. CONGRATULATIONS!!! That’s a huge accomplishment. Many of us have gotten secondary invitations, some have received invitations for an interview and a few may have already received acceptance letters. No matter which stage of the application process you are in, waiting to hear back from medical schools can feel unbearable. While waiting you may wonder what to do next. Fortunately, there are some key things we can do while waiting.

  1. Continue participating in the activities that are important to you, especially those included on your medical school application. One key mistake that pre-med students make is to quit volunteering or shadowing because they’ve completed their application. However, continuing to participate in these activities can help to strengthen relationships with the people or organizations you are working with.  You never know these connections will come in handy down the line.
  1. Seek out new opportunities for growth and experience. Pre-med students often think there is a magic formula that they must follow to gain acceptance to medical school. There are some key experiences that every pre-med student should have such as clinical exposure and physician shadowing. However, being unique and participating in activities (i.e. learning a new language) that sets you apart from other applicants will not only get your application noticed but it will make for interesting conversations once you are invited to an interview
  1. Read, read, read! As pre-med students and future clinicians, it is very important for us to be aware of what is going on in the world of healthcare and other areas which affect our lives and livelihood. Stay current with what’s going on by reading the local newspaper and a global newspaper or magazine. Most subscriptions are available digitally, which makes it convenient to read at anytime that you have free time (i.e. waiting on the bus or right before class). Leisure reading is also important too, so get lost in your favorite book to take a break from your studies.
  1. Get to know schools of interest. Once you get to the interview stage, you need to know at least some basic information about their medical school. Key questions you can ask yourself include: What interested me in this school? How does their mission fit with my goals of becoming a physician? Why would you be an asset at this school?
  1. Update your application!  Don’t forget to update your application.  Many schools allow you to update your application after you have submitted. This is a great opportunity to include significant changes to your application, which may help to improve your chances of an interview or acceptance. Did your role in an organization change and you are now one of the leaders? Have you gotten your research published? Have you started a new position? These are significant changes that should be updated in your application.


Good luck, future Doc!  Don’t stop working towards your goal!  We’re going to make it!

Debunking the myths about Osteopathic Medicine

In my experience of applying to medical schools, I have come across a lot of prospective medical students who are unsure of which medical track to apply for. The most popular option best known to majority pre-medical students through their family members, friends, or primary care physician (since it is hard to tell the difference between a DO/MD in a clinical setting) is the allopathic or MD route. However, I feel that the osteopathic track, i.e. Doctor of Osteopathy (DO) perhaps does not get the same level of recognition or pre-med committees need to do more to educate prospective students regarding this 2nd type of medical schools in the U.S. Perhaps a common misconception among students hesitant to apply solely to DO schools is that DOs are students who do not get accepted into MD programs due to poor grades or a low MCAT score and that as a U.S. trained DO, they would be unable to volunteer internationally or specialize in their field of choice. However, the osteopathic philosophy has been around since the 1800s and according to the American Osteopathic Association, there are currently over 73,000 osteopathic physicians in practice in the United States and according to American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM), more than 20 percent of new medical students in the U.S. are training to be osteopathic physicians. A wonderful guide to Osteopathic Medicine created by two current DO students for prospective medical students can be found at the following link:

Additionally, a US-licensed DO can prescribe medications, practice, and pursue medical specialties in the same manner that MDs do. In my own experiences of shadowing DO’s and in conversing with one of my mentors who is currently pursuing a residency in Internal Medicine, DOs have the option of taking the USMLE in addition to passing the COMPLEX exam required exclusively of DO students to be eligible to apply for allopathic residency programs. Also, the implementation of a single GME accreditation system in July of 2020, will allow graduates of osteopathic and allopathic medical schools to complete their residency and/or fellowship education in Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, ACGME-accredited programs and demonstrate achievement of common milestones and competencies. Through osteopathic-focused residency programs, the new system will recognize the unique full-body approach tenets and practices of the osteopathic medical profession and its significant contributions to health care. (See:

I have a friend who is currently a 3rd year DO student at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine – Georgia Campus. She has a very inspiring blog that I would love to share with aspiring physicians ( In her blog she explains her love and passion for medicine in addition to providing useful tips on how to succeed before and during medical school. In speaking with Danielle, she expressed and stated her interest in applying to DO schools which resonates with my own goals of reducing over-prescribing, allowing the body to selfheal through applications of Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT), and in utilizing scientific-based evidence in the effective treatment of pain.

So I hope that through this blog, I can encourage some if not most of you to consider DO programs as your medical school of choice. With 33 accredited osteopathic colleges in the United States with impressive rankings, numerous forums on SDN, and college recruitment events, students now have the knowledge and power at their fingertips to not fall for the common myths surrounding DO programs and hopefully they can make a well-informed decision regarding which medical track works best for their future goals.

How I Took Down the MCAT!

As aspiring physicians, there are many tests which we must face and overcome. However, the MCAT looms over many of us as one of the most terrifying and momentous tasks of all. But is the MCAT really that bad? As someone who has just battled and defeated this monster, I can speak to the difficulty of this test, but I can also attest to the fact that a great score can be accomplished with hard work and effective planning. In this brief discussion, I will share with you a short outline of the study methods which worked for me. Of course, these specific methods won’t work for everyone, but I hope that those of you on the dawn of preparing for the MCAT will find them helpful as you begin.


Planning Ahead is Key

One of the single most important things that you can do in preparing for the MCAT is make a plan! There are many, many topics covered on this test, and you need to ensure that you not only have time to review and master all of these topics, but continuously test yourself with practice questions and tests. I would suggest spending a good amount of time planning out a timeline including things such as, when you want to complete certain topics, do practice passages/problems, take practice tests, and such. Make sure that your plan is realistic to your schedule at the time, and be sure to know exactly when you want to take the exam. Before making this plan, decide how long you want to study for the MCAT. I personally took about a year to study for this exam; I started by slowly reviewing topics during my fall semester, then I really focused on mastering the material and taking practice exams in the spring, before taking my exam in June. In the end, it is up to you to decide how much time you need.



Once you have a plan ready, it’s time to get started! In my studying experience, I began by thoroughly reviewing the material. To do this, I delved into preparatory books as well as past course materials. I used Princeton Review and Kaplan books for a general overview, and followed up on topics that I still felt “shaky” on by reviewing my course notes and text books on those particular subjects. If I needed further explanation on any topic, I would often go to professors who taught those subjects at my university, or utilized the plethora of free videos on Khan Academy. Once I felt confident on a given topic, I would practice with various problem sets and passages. I would often use the Science Workbook by Princeton Review for practice passages, but there are a variety of other resources out there. For example, Khan Academy has a large selection of free practice questions, Next Step offers subject tests, Princeton and Kaplan review books have questions after each chapter, Exam Krackers (old or new additions) also offers a wide range of questions. Be sure to take full length practice tests throughout your studying as well—many of the aforementioned companies offer plenty of full length tests.


The Final Hour

As my test day approached, there were a few things that I found useful as I finalized my preparation. I started with a thorough review all of the MCAT topics listed on the AAMC website ( At this point I felt pretty confident about the material and simply wanted to briefly talk myself through the topics one last time, and very quickly touch up on any weak spots that I found. After this, I went on to purchase and complete the question packs published by the AAMC—these questions are most similar to those on the MCAT, which is why I saved these for last. At last, just days before my exam, I was ready to take the Official AAMC MCAT practice exam. The purpose of this exam is to gauge how prepared you are for the real thing, so I would suggest you save this for last as well, and take the time to think about what your practice scores mean for you.

I hope that you found this brief article helpful as you prepare to take your MCAT exam. This was a very brief outline of what I found to be successful for me, and it is meant for the sole purpose of getting you thinking about how you would like to structure your own MCAT study plan. I wish you all the best of luck!


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