MCAT Content Mastery: How Sketchy MCAT Can Help You Retain Information Long Term

Learn how to watch a sketch like a pro to easily and quickly recall high-yield MCAT content long term. One student shares answers to common questions!

So you’ve just subscribed to Sketchy MCAT, and with so much MCAT content review to watch, where do you begin? And how do you maximize your study schedule in tandem with Sketchy? First, know that using Sketchy MCAT like a pro involves actively engaging with the content and making a conscious effort to retain the information. This’ll make it easier to remember all the MCAT symbols while saving you time, since you won’t have to rewatch the lesson multiple times. Here are some commonly asked questions regarding how to watch a sketch like a pro and retain all the high-yield information in the long run. 


How can I watch the sketch fewer times and still retain all the symbols? 

The best advice is to watch the MCAT content slowly and engage with it the first time around. It’s tempting to watch at a fast speed, but it might not save you any time: you might actually end up spending more time in the future circling back and rewatching it. Instead, it’s healthy for a 10-minute sketch to take 20-25 minutes to fully soak in. You may find it helpful to frequently pause the video to make sure you’re thoroughly understanding the symbols. At the end of each video, quickly recall what each symbol means. Do this a couple of times during the day, or a couple of days later, without looking at the sketch. If you forget a particular symbol but have a good grasp on the rest of the lesson, it is best to watch just the part of the video that explicitly goes over that symbol, instead of spending extra time rewatching the whole MCAT lesson. 


What are some ways to take notes on the sketches? 

Annotating can be a great way to support memorization. Either transport the sketches onto your iPad or physically print them out, and then write your notes directly on them. Depending on what kind of learner you are, you may find it helpful to jot down a quick summary next to each symbol or cartoon. It might be more efficient for you to focus your notes only on the high-yield symbols you are primarily struggling with. 


How can I use the “Symbol Explorer” tool effectively? 

Instead of passively skimming the description of each symbol, practice answering what each one stands for yourself, and then check your answer. It is best to add a sticky note to your screen or adjust it (zoom in or out) in such a way that you do not see what each symbol stands for.


How do I efficiently use the quiz tool in Sketchy? 

The quiz questions are a great way to test yourself to see if you’ve retained the MCAT content. While it is tempting to take the quiz on the sketch you just watched right away, it is better to wait a while after watching the sketch before you take its respective quiz. Due to the recency effect, it is likely you will answer the questions in the quizzes correctly if you take it right away versus if you take it a few days later. For instance, take the quiz 5-7 days later so that you can practice recalling the sketch and jog your memory a bit harder. That’ll help make sure you’re remembering the information long term, rather than just remembering it for a few minutes. 


What if Sketchy does not have a key symbol that I am looking for (which is likely low yield)? 

There might be a word or two or an MCAT concept that is not included in a sketch. Build your own! You can directly annotate on your iPad or your notebook and draw a quick sketch of something that will help you remember that idea or word. For instance, cultural diffusion, a concept in psychology, is not included in a sketch. Find the sketch that most relates to this idea and draw your own symbols: for instance, a perfume bottle to represent diffusion. Add a short description to this symbol so you remember what it signifies. 


Bonus: Can I translate the sketches into real life? 

Interestingly, I found syncing the sketches to my real life to be really helpful. Sketchy does a great job of creating realistic sketches, so you’ll often see objects in your real life that are also Sketchy symbols. Sketches are created using the idea of spatial memory, which refers to the ability of an individual to remember and navigate through physical space, including the layout, location, and relationships of objects and landmarks in the environment. It involves the processing and retention of spatial information, such as the location of one's home, the arrangement of furniture in a room, or the layout of a city. The sketch on cardiology, for instance, which discusses the stages of the Wiggers diagram, takes place in a park. You can use a park near your house as a point to recall the sketch. 

Overall, there are tricks to avoid watching sketches over and over again and make sure the symbols stick in your mind the first time around. If implemented, they can save a great deal of time and energy, which you can direct towards practice tests and questions.

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