• Weigh your study time “Get the Biggest bang of your buck”  
    • One hour spent in Physical Sciences frequently yield greater score increase than one hour in Biological Sciences than that in Verbal Reasoning. In other words, the “bang of the buck” factor descends in this order Physical >Biological >Verbal. This is because in the pyramid of knowledge, Math is at the top of the pyramid, followed by physics, chemistry, biology, and then humanity/literature subjects. Fields of study at the top of the pyramid have fewer principles with greater scope of applications. There are more discrete facts and data points in the disciplines closer to the bottom of the pyramid. By the same token, you can master a few fundamental theories in physics and general chemistry to do extremely well on the physical sciences. But may need more content knowledge to do just as well in Biological section.
    • One hour spent in your weakest section may INITIALLY yield the greatest score increase in all 3 sections.
    • Based on the above two principles, allot your total MCAT prep time to each section accordingly. Notice that your time allocation will change through your course of MCAT preparation. As you become equally strong in all three sections, you may again put more focus on Physical Science section.


  • Switch between subjects every hour.
    • Your efficiency and focus often peak during the first 10 minutes of starting on a new subject. So if you work on any subject continuously for over an hour, likely you are getting diminishing return.
    • Put Verbal Reasoning in between Physical and Biological sections. This requires the greatest change in “thinking modes” and keeps your mind the freshest.


  • Passages, Passages, Passages
    • If you have one hour to spare, do passages (preferably timed) over reading, looking at flash cards/cheat sheets, sitting in lectures.
    • Passages require active thinking and real-time learning; all other methods of test prep are passive, even to the most disciplined learner.
    • Missed or nearly missed questions identify holes in your knowledge base.
    • Why spend any time on what you already know? You need to know what you don’t know. Passages delineate the boundaries of your knowledge and the limitations of your thought processes.
    • If you have little time, don’t resort to other prep methods until you have exhausted passages and practice questions available to you.
    • Timed passages and timed full length exams benefit you even more than untimed passages. They teach you to pace yourself and to maintain your poise and focus throughout the exam.
Ground Rules for MCAT Prep
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4 thoughts on “Ground Rules for MCAT Prep

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    • March 24, 2015 at 11:02 am

      Please feel free to share this blog with anyone who can benefit from it. Best wishes for all your endeavors 🙂 and feel free to make comments on what you’d like to learn. I will share what I know. If I don’t know, we can always learn together.

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