The testmakers at the AAMC say the path to a high MCAT score is to mix together premed science, critical thinking, and maybe a practice test or two.
And yes, you do need toremember tough content, and you need goodpracticeto hone your skills. But all the great resources in the world won’t matter if you don’t actuallydothem and push yourself to try your best all the way through. In this way, the MCAT is as much a test of accountability and grit as it is knowledge and critical thinking. That’s why some kind of accountability isnecessary(not optional) to increasing MCAT scores.
You’ll have to adapt your accountability system to your own needs, but here are four techniques you can draw from in making your own plans:
Accountability to Yourself
Self-discipline matters immensely on the road to your white coat, so you’ll need a healthy dose of it no matter what other accountability sources you have. Luckily, you wouldn’t have gotten this far if you had no discipline. But the MCAT is a new and unique challenge that will likely push you further than you’ve been before – especially if you have to prepare for the test while you’re in school or have a job.
If you don’t think about it regularly, take time to reflect on how well you hold yourself accountable. What are some successes you’ve had? Where have you fallen short? An honest self-assessment of your own accountability will help you know what other systems you have to put in place around you.
Accountability to Friends or Communities
There’s a certain magic in a community, whether a study group at school, an online community, or otherwise, where students “in the same boat” can share the burdens of stress and failure (taking some of it off you), but amplify and enhance your success and confidence (multiplying it). They can be what keeps you going when it’s 3am, you still have two chapters to finish tonight, and you have class in the morning.
There are practical learning benefits as well: If you get stuck on something, you know there’s one place to go to get an answer, rather than diving head-first into the internet to find your own answers. Even in the case of full test-prep courses with instructors (see below), the group of fellow students in class is often just as important as anything you get from your instructor.
Accountability to Teachers or Courses
A good course or a good tutor is built-in accountability. You have a schedule of classes and homework, and you have a real person to meet with every week who expects you’ve been doing that work and will talk to you about it. This little nudge of a friendly authority figure who knows the path you’re on, wants you to succeed, and tracks your progress on that path can make a huge difference.
Comprehensive courses and private tutoring are among the mostexpensiveways to get accountability. But if it’s in your price range and it fits your style, then it can be the right choice for you.
Accountability to Tools or Schedules
This is an intermediate step in accountability, which can apply to any of the other sources above. The way it works is: you, or an MCAT community, or a teacher, or a test prep company, will develop a structure for you to study within, likely a day-by-day or week-by-week schedule. Some services (like the study calendar in theBlueprint X Sketchy MCAT bundle!) will make this job easier for you.
Once you have a well-composed schedule, you can then follow it as your authority instead of needing to check back over and over again with your teacher or deciding from scratch what to do each day in a self-study plan.
Remember, the only way to do accountability truly wrong is to disregard it entirely. And look, everyone has lapsed in motivation—even driven pre-meds like yourself 😉. The key is to acknowledge those momentswithout faulting yourselfand take a real break if you need one! Then adjust your plan as needed and get back on the path to success by keeping yourself accountable.
This article is part of a series of collaborative posts withBlueprint Prep. They just dropped a post abouthow the MCAT actually tests very relevant skillsthat will benefit you as a medical student and a physician, and we highly recommend you check it out. If you’re looking to put the tips above to work, then make theSketchy X Blueprint Bundlea part of your program, with plenty of top-grade resources to persist through and a study calendar to keep you on track.