The MCAT Mistake I Made Before Scoring 521

April 22, 2024

minute read

For even more high quality insights from top scorers to help maximize your MCAT score, check out our affordable 1:1 private tutoring options here →

Does studying for the MCAT feel like you're trudging through a dense forest with no clear path? Like you're squinting at the horizon, praying for a guiding light?

We've all been there, and we've got a new video here to illuminate your MCAT journey... 💡

We want to introduce you to Deven Singh, one of your mentors here at MedLife Mastery...

Deven once wrestled with the same concerns as you - wondering how to start, how to strategize, and how to overcome the challenges of the MCAT. It was a roller-coaster ride, but in the last six weeks he skyrocketed his MCAT score to a very impressive 521!

And now he's here to share his story, his strategies, and his wisdom. 

For Deven, his MCAT success can be attributed to two key principles that he learned. Watch his YouTube video above or keep reading below to find out how he managed to reach beyond his goal score and how you can too!

We'll let you take it away from here, Deven!

If I were to prepare for the MCAT and take it all over again, I wish I started with these two principles in mind.

I spent roughly six months studying for the MCAT, and I started in October of my junior year with a January test date. After reading online forums and speaking with friends who had already taken the exam, I purchased some test prep books and began my content review. My days consisted of reading, watching videos, and taking notes.

I spent almost eight weeks on content review without doing a single practice question, and I quickly realized how much of a mistake this was. As soon as I started doing passage practice, I realized I forgot most of what I reviewed towards the beginning of October.

I underestimated how important scientific reasoning and passage comprehension were for getting questions right. I also realized that my content review was made irrelevant by my issues with reading comprehension and timing, especially on CARS. With a little bit more than a month to go before my test date, I had to postpone and restrategize.

The mistake I made is a mistake many, many MCAT test takers make, and it was not assessing myself early and frequently enough. I'm not saying I wasted eight weeks doing content review, but I certainly was in the dark when it came to figuring out what I needed to do to improve and how to increase my score.

Practice Makes Perfect

So after I postponed my test date, I started taking passage practice very seriously. I used a stopwatch to see how long I was taking on average for each passage. I started practicing at a higher volume, doing three passages at a time before seeing how I did.

I started to treat daily passage practice like an assessment, just like I would have treated a full-length exam. Most importantly, I analyzed my performance and brainstormed ways to improve, recording all of my ideas in a single document.

For example, I realized the majority of my mistakes in CARS were questions requiring me to make inferences. Over time, I came up with multiple tips to keep in mind so that in the moment during the test, I wouldn't make the same types of mistakes. Using your day-to-day performance as a guide to making the right adjustments is necessary for improving your score reliably.

Consistency is Key

The second tip is something I didn't become aware of until around three weeks before my test date, and that is prioritizing long-term consistency over short-term performance.

The MCAT is over seven hours long, and it is 230 questions. There are so many variables that can influence your score. Your time management, how you approach each question type, your content knowledge, your scientific reasoning skills, your reading comprehension, the list goes on.

On the other hand, there are only a few pieces of information that give you an accurate sense of how you'll actually do on test day. And those are your practice test scores. When I was getting ready to take the MCAT, the AAMC only offered five practice tests and only around four of those, were actually scored.

The point is that there are far more variables that can affect your performance than the number of data points you have to help you predict your performance. And you need to prepare by controlling for as much as possible. That means being consistent.

The best example I have to illustrate why this is important is my score trajectory on the psychological, social, and biological foundations of behavior section.

Initially on my practice tests, I used to see myself finish P/S very early, usually with around 30-35 minutes to spare. I found it easier to read the passages and find the answers, so I'd use the extra time I had to give the section a second or maybe even a third look, depending on how much time I actually had left.

The problem was that my scores were highly inconsistent. One week I would score a 132 on P/S, and then the next week I'd drop down to 126. Eventually, I figured out that finishing early had no added benefit.

My scores were far more consistent in the other sections, so I consciously slowed down, spending extra time on each question, even when I thought the right answer was highly evident.

I became much more comfortable moving on from a question and being comfortable with the answer I chose, not worrying about never being able to return to that question. In the final three weeks prior to my test date, my P/S score remained consistently high. 

Consistent progress is far more valuable than one high practice test score. I had a tendency to hold my breath and submit my test hoping a great score would show up on my screen. But that was a really reliable way of doing passage practice and practice tests and hoping for improvements.

The Two Main Lessons I Learned

But by the end of my study journey, I had a much stronger intuition of when I was performing well and when I wasn't. The only way I built this intuition was prioritizing being consistent. I ended up scoring a 521 with an even score distribution. I got a 131 in C/P and a 130 in the other sections. This was exactly the average score of all five full end practice exams I took.

I credit my results with these two principles: 1. Assessing regularly while making adjustments and 2. Prioritizing long-term consistency.

Why I Chose To Become A Mentor

I became a mentor at MedLife Mastery because I don't believe preparing for the MCAT should be a mystery. After working with many students and comparing their journey to mine, I can confidently say that the most important skill for people taking the MCAT is thinking about how you learn and take tests, then studying accordingly.

Understanding my strengths, weaknesses, blind spots, tendencies, and reacting to them was crucial for my success on test day. If you want more tips and strategies from all the mentors at MedLife Mastery, please sign up for our free MCAT Strategy newsletter.

I know firsthand how difficult it is to prepare for this exam, but if you focus on figuring out who you are as a learner and test taker, you will find success on test day.

Knowing Yourself is Half The Battle

So what did you think of Deven's journey and two key principles to succeeding on the MCAT?

Now that you've soaked up all the wisdom from the video, consider taking it a step further. Our affordable one-on-one MCAT tutoring and MCAT strategy courses are designed to help you adapt and overcome because every future doctor deserves personalized guidance and tools tailored for success.

We understand the MCAT isn't a stroll in the park. But with the right approach, a good dose of consistency, and some smart strategy, you're more than capable of conquering this challenge. It's just another stepping stone on your path to donning that white coat.

Remember, just like in medicine, in MCAT preparation, knowing yourself - your strengths, weaknesses, tendencies - is half the battle won.

You got this,

The MedLife Mastery Team
Your MCAT Success Mentors

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!

70+ MCAT Strategy Video Lessons + Notes - Free!

The Free Top Scorer MCAT Strategy Video Course

Learn from multiple 515+ scorers on how to:

  • Master MCAT content quickly and for the long-term
  • Breakdown MCAT questions and identify correct answers
  • Plan your MCAT prep schedule to ensure you stay committed
  • Take and review practice exams in the most strategic way
  • Cultivate the right MCAT success mindset
  • Know how to study as a retaker to ensure this is the last MCAT prep
  • And much more!

Trusted by 2,800+ students since 2019

200+ 5  ⭐️ reviews on TrustPilot

Success message!
Warning message!
Error message!