How I Aced The MCAT In Only 30 DAYS!

June 25, 2024

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For some students, studying for the MCAT within a limited time frame might be their only option. The added pressure of time can feel a little overwhelming, but I'm here to tell you that it is achievable with hard work and diligence. 

Keep reading along if you want to know how I went from writing a study guide, to scoring a 516 on the MCAT in just 30 days!

Gearing Up for the MCAT Bootcamp

Hi! My name is Shahar Hartman, and I'm a mentor here at MedLife Mastery. 

It all started when I was boarding a plane back from my study abroad to America. I realized that if I wanted to apply for that upcoming cycle, I would need to take a test in under 30 days. After leveraging my options, I decided to take the risk and go for it! 

While waiting to board the plane, I downloaded all the free MCAT guides I could find online. When I got on the plane, I opened all of the free MCAT resources that I had downloaded.

As I started parsing through all the information, I quickly realized that this was not the right way to start my MCAT prep. What I was doing on the plane would be negligible for studying, and I would be lost if I continued. So, I closed all the guides I downloaded. I decided that once I landed, I would go to sleep and wake up with a brand new plan. 

I decided that I needed to organize my studying. I created a master mistakes tracker for my practice exams and passages. I started looking up YouTube videos on what I could study. I began organizing my life to become a boot camp for the MCAT.

As you know, this test isn't easy. To tackle it, I needed to create an efficient study plan. To begin my study plan, I delved into the subjects I didn't really have time to study in college and focused on those. 

For my practice exams, I decided to do one full-length exam a week to reach my target score. If I hit a target score in my practice exam, I would take my test 30 days later.

To conduct my bootcamp, I really needed to focus on my technique because of all the content on the MCAT. I would drown myself trying to memorize everything, especially high-yield topics. I knew that the most effective strategy for me would be to work on my test-taking techniques alongside reviewing content. 

My first couple of days of studying were more focused on reviewing content in the morning through YouTube videos. After that, I would watch other people online to see how they approached the passages. I wanted to know what different strategies were out there and what would work best for me.

Afterward, once I felt more comfortable actually going through the passages and answering the questions, I took a deeper dive into the content. This is because I wanted to make sure that I was solid in my foundation before I started taking practice exams.

Getting Into Test-Taking Mode: Accomplishing Tasks From Start to End

What was important for me throughout these 30 days, and I very much advise you to do so as well, was to take care of my mental health. That meant that I wanted to practice getting into the mode of taking and studying for the MCAT every single day.

I calculated how much time it would take for me to drive from my home to the testing center. I would wake up even earlier than that every single day to shift my whole circadian rhythm back. 

I wanted to accomplish every single task in my life from start to finish. The MCAT is such a long exam. If you stop halfway, you're never going to do well. You get tired throughout it if you don’t work on your test-taking stamina. You need to learn how to bring yourself back to peak performance levels, especially when the pressure or stress starts to accumulate on test day. 

That said, I would start from the beginning to the end of every task, whether it be running, cooking, reading, etc. Every day, I would set a goal for myself to review 50 pages of content. Even when I was tired, I didn't stop halfway. 

Moving Forward After a Low Diagnostic Exam Score

After the first five days, I took my first practice exam. I scored a 502. It wasn't as much as I wanted, but it set a baseline for myself that I could see how I could improve. I saw the questions I got wrong, and I went through each question meticulously. I went back into the passage to see where the answer was and what I could have done to identify it better for next time. 

I kept track of all my mistakes in my mistake tracker, wrote down why I got questions wrong, and I tracked what I could do better next time. This could be a content mistake that I could have studied more or a lack of detail in the passage that I overlooked.

After that first exam, I compiled a study guide. What do I need to do to keep on excelling at this exam?

Once I had that down, I decided to continue waking up early. I started running in the morning, meditating afterward, and quickly preparing myself nutritious meals with brain foods. I needed to take care of myself. 

I Didn’t Force Myself to Study Until I Burnt Out

As I've said time and time again, studying isn't just the content. It's not just the passages. It's the content, the passages, and yourself. If you don't feel your best, you're not going to be able to score as well as what you’re aiming for. So, that's why I needed to tackle all three of these components. 

With only 25 days left before my exam, I needed to make sure that I was meeting benchmarks every day and improving with every exam. There was no time to stop. Saying that, though, ‘no time to stop’ seems daunting. It seems scary, just like the MCAT; it seems brutal. 

Again, it's important to look at yourself and reflect on what's working well and where you can improve. If you are not in the right headspace, you need to be self-aware. Do you need a break? Do you need time to just go for a walk, eat a delicious meal, and be with your friends? If so, that's okay too.

I didn't force myself to study until I burnt out. Burning myself out would have just devastated my boot camp. I wouldn't be able to do what I needed to. I would have been less productive in the end if I burned out

“Were Your Days Becoming Blurred?”: How Meditation Helped Me

People always asked me during my boot camp session if it felt like the days were becoming blurred, but I always remembered what I was doing. My response was that it never became blurred. 

My days felt unique because every morning I would wake up, get my run in, come back home, cook a good nutritious breakfast, and I would feel energized. I would go meditate, and I would reflect on what had just gone on that morning, and what had gone on the previous day. More importantly, I would reflect on my goals for that coming day. 

I wanted to know where I was at so I could take that and build upon it. Without those meditative moments, I don't know if I could have achieved my score. I don't know if I could have scored as well as I did because I needed that time to reflect upon myself, rebuild my energy, and strengthen my testing stamina. 

It's all one big study session. That whole month of studying, whether it be in the kitchen, in the field, or in front of my computer. I was doing it all to mentally prepare myself for the exam.

That brought me to my next practice exam, and I scored 10 points higher from a 502 to a 512. I felt confident. I felt like I could keep on scoring higher! This kept me motivated. I kept my morning routine strong, and I made sure that I was reviewing content and simultaneously practicing strategy. 

Golden Strategy: The MCAT Is a Multiple Choice Exam

Something that helped me increase my score even more was shifting my perspective to really understand that the MCAT is a multiple-choice exam. Yes, we've spent three or four years studying all these different scientific concepts tested, but at the end of the day, the answers on the page are either A, B, C, or D. If you make that connection, you're most likely golden. 

I found that if I could find the sentence or two that led to my answer choice throughout the whole text, and throughout the complex material, then I was most likely right. I wanted to use that knowledge to try to boost my score even more.

Build a Routine That Will Train You for More Than Just the MCAT…

Once again, I continued running, reading, sleeping, studying passages, reviewing content, and going over different test-taking techniques. I never stopped watching those YouTube videos of people’s passage dissections because I wanted to see what other strategies I could keep on learning to maximize my score. 

I kept on doing this, and I began to see improvements every single week. The week before my test date, in my final practice exam, I scored a 521 on my AAMC full-length. I felt ready to write my test on exam day. I felt confident coming into this exam. 

It took me a little under 30 days, and I think you can do it, too. If you have more time, you might not want to do it as fast and rigorously as I did. Maybe if I could have done it again, I wouldn't have either. 

Regardless, if you want to succeed on the MCAT, I suggest you do everything that I just said. Build a routine for yourself, stay focused, and be reflective about your mistakes. The MCAT has a lot of components to keep track of in your head, but you can do it.

If you want to succeed at the MCAT, I think you should make sure that you're training to become a better version of yourself, not just for this exam, but for the rest of your life. It's through that, that you will achieve a higher score on your exam.

If you want my help, I'm a tutor here at MedLife Mastery, and I would love to be able to help you. The rest of the tutors here are great as well. We all have our individual journeys, and I would love to help you out with your MCAT.

We’re Here to Support You!

Conquering the MCAT and staying persistent during your own MCAT boot camp is filled with challenges and triumphs. As you embark on your MCAT prep journey, remember that success is not solely defined by content review and endless studying, but it’s also your well-being and thoughtful test-taking approaches. 

As you navigate this rigorous exam, we hope that Shahar’s tips and strategies can be a guiding light, illuminating the strategies to help you overcome your own MCAT challenges. 

At MedLife Mastery, we're here to support you every step of the way. 

We help students get accepted into medical school through services like our affordable application coaching and advising alongside our private MCAT tutoring options! You are not alone in your journey and we’re here to help you succeed, future doc. 

We’re rooting for you! 

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About the Author

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