So you are a week away from taking the MCAT and your greatest fear becomes reality: Your practice score is nowhere near where you need it to be.
Definitely a devastating feeling. Is all hope lost? Do you need to push back your test date?
In an ideal world, pushing back your MCAT is not a problem. But for most people, their test date was planned perfectly and there isn’t that much wiggle room.
Perhaps you planned your MCAT at the end of the summer and there aren’t any options until January. Or maybe you are taking the MCAT in May and you NEED that score back to apply to medical schools.
The good news is that you can improve your score in a week.
You can improve your MCAT score significantly in 1 week by cramming in several practice exams. In addition to this, you will need to switch your focus on only high yield MCAT content you struggle with. Also, you will need to evaluate any strategies that might be hurting you.
I know, this is easier said than done. And depending on your situation, your solution might be more complicated.
Keep reading for a more in-depth strategy that can really help your MCAT score in a week.
How Should I Study The Week Before The MCAT If I Need To Improve My Score?
Full disclosure, this strategy might not be for everyone and we typically don’t support cramming before the MCAT. However, this strategy has been proven successful and could be a good last-ditch effort.
If you have been following our methodology for studying for the MCAT, you know we are huge fans of taking lots of MCAT practice tests in order to improve your score.
If you are struggling to score well and you need to improve your score by X points, you can go the test cramming approach.
Take 4 or 5 practice tests and review them thoroughly. I know that this is a lot to do in 7 days, but if you need to desperately improve your score this will work. Just make sure you don’t do anything the day before the exam. You do not want to burn yourself out.
If I needed to increase my MCAT practice scores but only had a week before the exam, here is what my schedule would look like:
- Day 1: Take Test / Review Test
- Day 2: Take Test / Review Test
- Day 3: Extra review day. Go over high yield material that you struggled with on your practice tests.
- Day 4 Take Test / Review Test
- Day 5: Take Test / Review Test
- Day 6: Final study day. Go over high yield MCAT material and flashcards. We also made a list of things you should memorize for the MCAT.
- Day 7: Rest (Don’t study)
Again this is a very intense schedule and not typically what I recommend the week before the MCAT. But if you are desperate to see improvement, this will be effective.
Review Your MCAT Practice Exams To Analyze Where You Messed Up
If you have been keeping a log of all your practice tests, this is where it would come in handy.
Quickly review your old MCAT practice tests records/notes and see if you can find any trends.
For example, maybe you are missing a lot of problems due to not reading the entire passage. If this was the case, you would change your strategy and put more time into reading the passage even if it meant less time going over problems.
Maybe there is a subject, in particular, you are struggling with. In this case, I would recommend doing a quick crash course using a different prep material. Have you overlooked using Khan Academies’ videos?
Focus On Highyield Areas
If you have not been recording your own list of MCAT high yield topics, there are plenty of resources on the internet.
This example, found on the AMA website, is based on actual MCAT testing experiences from Kaplan’s tutors.
Again, there are plenty of other resources that list the high-yield MCAT topics. If you don’t trust one source, compare multiple.
Once you have your list, focus on reviewing those topics by either going back into your content books, doing flashcards, or using a video resource such as Kahn Academy.
Are Certain MCAT Tactics Hurting You?
There are a lot of MCAT “gurus” out there who will tell you a certain strategy is essential to doing well.
The reality is that everyone has their own unique twists on common testing strategies. Don’t fall into the trap of committing to an MCAT tactic that is actually hurting your score.
Take a moment to think about this: At any point did you change the way you approach certain problems and started seeing a decline in your score?
Take another practice test using your old strategy and see if you perform better. Often times students will revert back to their old ways and improve significantly.
How To Improve Your CARS Score In One Week
CARS is unique because there is absolutely ZERO content you need to know for this section. It is pure test-taking abilities.
So how do you improve on CARS in one week? Well, there are two things you can do:
- Practice, practice, practice: Do as many passages as you can every day for the last week (except the last day).
- Try different strategies out: There are a ton of different strategies you can use for the CARS section. Try speed reading and going straight to the questions. Try reading the questions first. Try making an outline for every paragraph. Try not doing an outline.
When it comes to CARS there is no silver bullet. You are going to have to practice and see what works for you. If you only have a week left this will be tough. But not impossible.
If CARS is your only weak section, really ramp up that practice. Test some strategies out and see what works for you.
How To Improve Your P/S Score In One Week
The psychology and sociology section of the MCAT is an interesting one for the following reasons:
- It’s brand new to the MCAT.
- It’s the last section so fatigue is a big factor.
- It’s highly research-oriented.
The good news is, this section is the easiest one to improve in.
What you want to do is focus on research terms and techniques. The psychology and sociology section tends to have a lot of passages with research statistics. Understanding these can get you some free points.
So you want to know about things like p values, various research methods (longitudinal, double-blind, cross-sectional), reliability vs validity, and all the different kinds of variables (independent vs dependant vs confounding)
Aside from the research stuff, the P/S section will expect you to know and understand some important studies, concepts, and people.
The Reddit community has a really good resource for cramming in psychology and sociology, if you review everything on this document, you should definitely see an increase in your score. Here is the document.
Confidence And Mindset Are Key
Anxiety and the MCAT do not go well together.
Now I know if you are someone who needs to improve their score in a week you are probably freaking out a bit. That’s fine, your just human.
But understand that this kind of anxiety will hurt your score. Remind yourself that you are a smart student. You may not know everything but you know the important stuff and this is enough to get a really competitive score.
Try talking to an advisor, close friend, or MCAT tutor for tips on how to become more confident with the MCAT.
Some Students Will Just Score Higher On The Actual MCAT
What MCAT practice tests have you been taking? If you are using a 3rd party, you may be experiencing a deflated MCAT score.
Here’s the data we discovered from surveying premed students who took the MCAT after taking 3rd party MCAT practice tests:
- Students who used The Princeton Review practice tests scored on average 10 points higher on the actual MCAT
- Students who used Kaplan’s practice tests scored on average 8.25 points higher on the actual MCAT.
The AAMC makes the most accurate MCAT practice tests, but even students who took those exams performed better on the actual MCAT.
Here is what our data showed: