MCAT Study Tips: How 510+ Scorers Master MCAT Concepts In Just 4 Steps

June 25, 2024

minute read

One of the biggest causes of disappointing MCAT scores is premeds not knowing how to deeply learn the vast amount of information the MCAT covers. 

As we're sure you've already seen by now if you've started your MCAT prep, the MCAT covers a massive amount of information that you're expected to know. 

This is information that you can't get away with just simply reading once or twice or simply just 'memorizing' either. You need to understand it all on an in-depth level.


Just knowing how deep you need to understand these concepts and knowing how many concepts there are to learn, can be an extremely daunting and a discouraging thought. 

It's a lot to get through and you might already be panicking at the thought of how much studying you're going to have to do to get through it all. 

Or you may already have spent weeks studying and aren't seeing improvements in your score and ability to retain information.

There are premeds, especially those who don't have a strong science background or a strong science background in one particular science subject (like Chemistry), who study for days upon days and have no idea why their score isn't matching their expectations.

The problem is they're not applying the correct study techniques to master an exam of this nature.

Here's where we come in...

To show you how to prep for the MCAT in a smarter way. In the same way top MCAT scorers before you have done.

Top scorers know and apply MCAT study techniques that help them maximize their MCAT score,  with the least amount of effort and stress...

Which is why you'll often hear of 515+ scorers who only studied for '5 weeks' or who only studied a few days a week. 

Most premeds classify them as 'geniuses' but they're not - they're just geniuses at applying the right MCAT prep strategies to understand quicker and better, and make their competitive MCAT score inevitable.

We'll prove it to you here by showing you a top scorers approach to conquering the MCAT study issue of scores not increasing because of there being too much information to learn everything on an in-depth level.

Ready to begin? Great! Get out a blank piece of paper. You’re going to use this to take action right away on a concept you’re currently studying for.

We're about to cover a 4-step technique top MCAT scorers use to deeply understand, recall, and explain any MCAT concept, within 30 minutes.

That's right - 30 minutes is all it takes if done properly!

The best part? This technique will remain with you for years to come.

Especially while you're dominating exams in the med-school of your dreams... 

(Which of course, you got into by destroying the MCAT using our top scorer MCAT strategies ;))...

Oh and one more thing...

How To Master MCAT Concepts Like A 510+ Scorer

Before we get into the 4-step technique, there's something you need to understand about the art of learning like a top scorer.

You need to understand that there's a difference between "passive learning" and "active learning".

Engaging in passive learning is probably one of the biggest mistakes most premeds make while studying for the MCAT. 

Passive learning is just going through a book, or just sitting there watching a lecture, kind of just 'accepting' all the information that comes your way.

Passive learning is about receiving information from a source like a book or a video but not really doing anything with it in your mind. 

Passive learning is what gets most of us through so many classes in undergrad because that's all that was needed to do the night before an exam to get a decent grade. Only to forget everything right after the test is done. 

Well that type of learning doesn't fly with the MCAT. Especially because you're devoting months to study for the MCAT, which means you need to make sure you remember what you studied in Week 1! And you need to remember it well.

But for most of us, passive learning is our habit, it's our 'default' because we've been doing it for YEARS. So naturally, just like any habit that needs to be broken, it'll take some effort to get over it.

The worst part is most students don't even recognize this is their weakness and they study like this for months and can't comprehend why their MCAT score isn't increasing! 

"How can I be getting such low MCAT scores when I've been getting A's my whole life!"

The answer is that you're not learning in the right way. You're using study methods that don't work for this beast of an exam...

And honestly, those methods won't work in med-school either. 

This is why the MCAT is such a HUGE indicator for med-schools about who will succeed and who won't in their programs. Which is also why the MCAT score is an extremely important factor for them when they consider your med school application.

If you want to score 510 or 515+ on the MCAT, if you want to show you're med-school material, you have to stop learning 'passively'. Instead, you have to start practicing "active learning".

Active learning is the basis of the 4-step technique...

The 4-Step Top Scorer MCAT Study Technique (Finally we get to it!)

Richard Feynman

Richard Feynman

Richard Feynman (Noble prize winner and physicist) once went into the mathematics department and challenged anyone there to describe to him, any idea, regardless of how difficult or complicated it was, and he told them that he would be able to arrive at the same conclusions that they did.

The only catch was that they couldn’t use complex terms and only use simple terms that he could understand.

He would startle people all the time by doing this and prove his “genius”. But in reality, the technique he used to do this, is applicable by anyone – including you, as you study for the MCAT.

“I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something.” – Richard Feynman

The technique he used is now coined as "The Feynman Technique".

It involves 4 steps...

Step One: Make Your Choice

In the first step, you're choosing the concept you want to better understand.

You’re not limited here – you can choose any concept, even if it contains multiple parts. Write the name of this concept on the top of the blank piece of paper.

Step Two: Bring In The (Imaginary) 8 Year Old!

In step two, you will explain the concept to your imaginary (or real) 8 year old sibling or niece/nephew.

Write out the explanation – and do it as if you were teaching it to someone who won’t understand complex words. This forces you to keep things simple. Very simple.

“In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn.”
― Phil Collin

The quality of how you explain it, will show you how well you really know it. We have a tendency to think that if we just "get" the concept, when it shows up in a multiple choice question, we'll just recognize the right answer. More often than not, that's not the case.

If you have the ability to teach a concept well, you truly understand it. And when you truly understand it, only then do multiple choice questions become a breeze.

Step Three: Hit A Roadblock?

Did you hit a roadblock in your explanation? Review time. If you’re not able to continue explaining it in simple terms on the paper, that means it’s time to review again because you clearly don’t know it completely.

Which is fine – this is why you’re doing this, to see where you stumble.

Go back to the appropriate lecture or reference until you understand it enough that you can explain it on paper.

Once you go back to explaining, you might get stuck again in your explanation. Great, you found your other weakness. Re-learn it. Keep going until all your weaknesses are out of the way.

When all your weaknesses are gone, you've mastered that concept. If you use this technique to master most concepts on the MCAT, you're going to master the MCAT.

The goal is to go through this technique and explain the concept without looking at your material. It’s a great way to self-test and see if you understand the concept thoroughly.

It'll feel like you're going slow in the beginning because you'll be spending more time than normal, on a lot of concepts. However, if you go slow this one time and truly understand each concept, when you come back to review, you'll be breezing through your books.

Invest the time now and reap the joy and confidence during practice tests later - when you feel like you know everything!

Step Four: Your Best Friend

In this step, you will use analogies and simplify even more.

You’re definitely going to come across concepts (perhaps abstract ones), where your explanation will still be a little difficult for your 8 year old sibling or niece/nephew to understand.

You’ll recognize that it’s a little confusing or too wordy. This is where you need to simplify the language you’re using even further AND use analogies so they can understand it better.

Using analogies will help you in connecting previous and new knowledge in your mind to better remember the new concept.

If your goal is to remember more and better, this step is your best friend – the better the analogies you make or further simplify the words, the more you'll enable yourself to understand the concept even more deeply.

The Key is To Find Your Learning Gap

The best part about using the Feynman Technique is that you can slowly identify exactly what you don’t understand and figure out where your gap in learning is.

The problem is that we often read something completely, maybe we read it several times, and maybe some of us take it a step further and try to kind of explain it in our minds, and if we can do that, we become satisfied and move on to the next page or next concept.

But with this technique; the act of writing it down, explaining it in layman terms, and using analogies, forces you to make sure you get it ENTIRELY and recognize the GAPS in your learning.

Identifying the gaps is the most crucial thing when studying for the MCAT because it’s those gaps that screw you over on the actual exam.

In fact, the MCAT is actually designed to draw out those gaps from you! Think about it, this exam has been optimized over and over for more than 20 years to identify top performers.

Sure, you might discover those gaps when you do a lot of practice tests and see where you keep making mistakes, but imagine if you just spent a little more time to make sure you understand the concept, and therefore, make your practice tests even MORE valuable to show you weaknesses you have that you wouldn’t have picked up otherwise.

It might take a little more time to do this technique with a lot of concepts, but it’s SO worth it. Eventually, it’ll become easier to do it with practice.

If you're short on time, only do this technique on the most important concepts that you know are going to show up on the MCAT, or those that you know you're most weakest in.

By the way, if you want a PDF checklist of 48 of the most important MCAT topics that top scorers recommend are "must-know" and have a 90% chance of showing up on your MCAT, you can download that checklist by entering your email anywhere you can on our site and signing up to join the community.

Looking Ahead At Your Inevitable Med-School & Doctor Future

If you succeed at using active learning techniques like this now, you’ll succeed at using it in med-school and when learning anything in life...

Because you’ll automatically start explaining things properly, and you’ll easily start creating analogies to articulate yourself better in arguments, in discussions, etc.

Also, if you truly want to get in the "510+ scorer MCAT success" mindset, start viewing the MCAT as an opportunity, not an obstacle.

An opportunity to get this "way of thinking" down now and watch how you excel to success in all aspects of your life.

Lastly, we understand what you're going through right now - the pressure is intense, the stress is real, the days are long, and the MCAT feels like it's getting closer by the second...

We want you to know that we're always here for you so feel free to reach out whenever you need to talk.

As your "MCAT Success Mentors", if there's one piece of advice we could gift you, it would be to follow in the footsteps of top MCAT scorers. 

This will help you remove the guesswork from your MCAT prep. You'll know exactly what you need to do. You'll be saved from making SO many common MCAT mistakes that most writers make because you'll be aware of them beforehand.

You'll know when to take practice exams, how to take them, how to destroy CARS, how to create the smartest MCAT study schedule, and there's so much more that we can keep listing but it's best that you check it all out for yourself...

If you understand and can see the importance of using proven top scorer MCAT prep strategies (like in this article) to get a competitive MCAT score, so that you can get into the med-school of your choice, then we highly recommend you download the Top Scorer MCAT Strategy Guide PDF. 

We conduct ongoing research and interviews with 510+ MCAT scorers, so we can bring you all the most recommended and most proven-to-work 'high MCAT score' shortcuts and strategies...

And all our best stuff is in the 100+ page Top Scorer MCAT Strategy Guide (download link is at the end of this article).

We'll leave you with the key message that we hope you'll take and always remember from this article...

Learning is not about remembering something difficult. It’s about making things easier for yourself.

When you force yourself to make something easier to understand, you remember it much better.

This is the first step to studying smart, not just hard for the MCAT...  

Which is what all 510+ scorers know how to do and what you can easily start doing as well...

You got this,

The MedLife Mastery Team
Your MCAT Success Mentors

P.S. Amanda Naylor, a 514 MCAT scorer, who used the Top Scorer MCAT Strategy Guide said that the Feynman Technique was one her favorite strategies that she still uses to this day in med-school! Check out exactly what she said below...

"This guide helped me plan my studies, which was very important for me as a self-study MCAT test taker. The MCAT Mastery guide covers all areas of MCAT prep very well. Using the strategies in this guide, I was able to achieve my goal score and then some. Specifically, I used the Feynman Technique... Choosing a concept I needed to understand better, simplifying my explanation to an elementary school level, revising my explanation as difficulties arose, and utilizing analogies. This strategy is perfect for MCAT test takers and has helped me both in MCAT prep and graduate school. Thank you, MCAT Mastery, for sharing your useful guide!" 

Amanda Naylor, 514 MCAT Score

Naylor Amanda

Your MCAT Success Mentors

About the Author

We're a team of future doctors passionate about giving back and mentoring other future doctors! All mentors on the team are top MCAT scorers and we all are committed to seeing you succeed in achieving your physician dreams ???? To help you achieve your goal MCAT score, we take turns hosting these Live MCAT Courses and are also available for 1:1 private tutoring!

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