Why Limit Your MCAT Review to 90 Days

Many students believe that studying longer translates to a better MCAT score. I have studied and taught the MCAT professionally for over 30 years and I believe the most important decision you can make when studying for your MCAT is to plan to finish in less than 90 days.

Please bear with me as I share my background; I believe it will lend credibility to my opinion. Being an avid student, I achieved nearly all A’s in my premed courses, far exceeding my classmates in exam performances. I have sat for the real MCAT on numerous occasions, not for a score, but with the sole purpose of understanding the exam. I have typically voided my scores so as not to affect the curve. The first time I took the exam, I did not study for it and scored an unimpressive 60th to 70th percentile on each section. On my second attempt, after studying rigorously for fewer than 90 days, I scored in the high 90th percentile on all sections with a 99.9% on the verbal section. I have had similar results with other standardized exams.

My initial unimpressive scores indicate to me that I possess somewhat average intelligence. I can only assume that my high standardized exam scores must be the result of proper study regimen and not some special gift. Confirming my assumptions are my decades of personal experience with thousands of students. I have found that individuals with average intelligence can score extremely high on the MCAT if they follow the correct study regimen.

Now, I am assuming that a student has taken the proper prerequisites in college. If so, that student has the base from which to build a solid understanding of the concepts. Unfortunately, most strong students with such a background believe they have a solid understanding of the basic concepts already; they do not. They have a base from which to quickly build that solid understanding. I have taught top students from Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Stanford, you name it. The strongest students vastly overestimate their understanding of the most basic science concepts. This can result in a poor MCAT score the first time around.

The MCAT is a largely a conceptual test, and what you learned in your undergraduate preparation is not concept, but how to work problems. Exam day will be brutal if you bring to your MCAT your undergraduate approach in solving science problems.

So, with your prerequisites under your belt, your goal in preparing for the MCAT should be to refresh and inculcate knowledge that you already have and to learn, for the first time, the concepts behind the science that you have studied for two or three years.

As long as your MCAT prep material is written with this understanding, to the depth required by the MCAT, the concepts can be learned quickly, certainly in fewer than 90 days of rigorous study. The conceptual appreciation stays with you forever. The mass of raw facts required for MCAT mastery cannot be maintained much longer than 90 days. Without constant inculcation, you will forget many of these facts. If you doubt this, watch some Youtube videos where MDs attempt the MCAT.

Your stamina to maintain a certain study pace is limited. Your focus will eventually be required elsewhere. Attempting to maintain the myriad of MCAT facts for more than 90 days will lead to a lower MCAT score.

I have done this for thirty years, and I am very good at it, but getting the facts correct still requires me to prepare for each class.

Trust me. Limiting MCAT prep to 90 days increases your MCAT score.

Jonathan Orsay

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