MCAT Test Prep Advice for Exam Day Jitters

MCAT test prep for the day of the exam is crucial to your success. I am going to take you step by step through actions which make for a great test day experience. It all starts from the moment you wake up.

Eat a healthy breakfast because studies show eating whole grains and proteins translate into higher performance on mental challenges. For example, eggs or yogurt; with oatmeal or a whole-grain bagel and fruit are an excellent choice.

Travel

It is important to know where your testing center is located in advance of the exam. I would even suggest taking a practice trip to the center one week before the MCAT to become familiar with the area, how long it will take to arrive and most importantly so you won't get lost on test day. You have to arrive at least 30 minutes before your testing time. If your trip is long, it may be a good idea to have a snack upon arrival.

Warm Up

MCAT test prep entails warming up for the exam. As you know physics and general chemistry will be the first section of the exam. Use breakfast or travel (if you're not driving) to review these topics by using either flashcards or study sheets. This will get your mind in "MCAT mode."

Check-In

This is a very important test and there are procedures in place to ensure you cannot cheat. First, you must bring a current photo ID that also has your signature. This ID is the only personal item which you can bring into the testing room, all other items, including watches, go into a personal locker. Also, your fingerprints will be electronically scanned (won't have to worry about ink). This procedure will be repeated each time you return to the testing room after your breaks.

Tutorial

Use the 5 minutes of MCAT test prep to get a feel for your computer and mouse. This is where you want to review the functions available on the Computer Based Test interface (how everything works). Take this time to relax, get rid of any butterflies and remember you prepared for this day and are ready to excel on the MCAT!

As the test begins stay calm, focused and alert on each section.

Physical Sciences

You have 70 minutes to work through 7-9 passages, 13 discrete questions for a total of 52 questions. Pace yourself, take mini-breaks (a few seconds) as needed.

Break

You will have an optional 10 minute break. This would be a good time to have Gatorade and a banana. Why Gatorade, it has an osmolarity comparable to blood, meaning it won't make you use the restroom, such as drinking caffeine or water. You want to stay hydrated and fueled before your start to feel hungry or thirsty.

Since you have been sitting at a computer for over an hour, getting up to walk around your break area, stretch and mentally go through more MCAT test prep is going to make a big difference for the remainder of the day. Go ahead, get up and do something even if you don't feel like it.

Verbal Reasoning

You have 60 minutes and will be reading 7 passages for a total of 40 questions. Knowing there is going to be a lot of reading, take some time to close your eyes or look away from your computer screen during this section of the test.

I started to get fatigued during this section and taking a mini break allowed me to regain my focus and tell myself, "I've worked to hard in my MCAT test prep to get tired," and this turned out to be my best section.

Break

You will have an optional 10 minute break. At this point you might want to replenish with some protein (protein bar, hard-boiled egg) while also having carbs and Gatorade. Trust me after getting through the Verbal Reasoning this may be your most anticipated break.

Writing Sample

You will need to complete two back to back 30 minute essays.

Break

It's 10 minutes and optional. See above.

Biological Sciences

You will be given 70 minutes to complete 7-9 passages, 13 discrete questions for a total of 52 questions. Now your MCAT test prep has paid off because this is the last section of the exam. Remember to pace yourself and take a mini-break of a few seconds to regain your focus as needed.

Check Out

Submit your test and turn in any scratch paper you used.

Celebrate!

If there is a post-MCAT party go ahead and reward yourself, you totally deserve it. Your MCAT test prep is over along with the exam itself.

Scores will be arriving in about 30 days. Until then, take a break from being premed and relax. But don't slip in your school work, grades still remain essential.


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