How My Philosophy Major Helped Me Ace the MCAT

April 22, 2024

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Yeah, the MCAT has a lot of science content. So, picking the right college major can give you a huge advantage going into prep.

But which subject is the best to study for MCAT prep? 

Some of you might be wondering if you’ve made the right choice with English literature, or if cultural anthropology would be a good idea to begin with. 

Redox reactions are on the MCAT, but that doesn’t mean you have to major in chemistry (especially if you hate chemistry, like a lot of us).

Not a lot of people know this, but majoring in humanities subjects can teach you some of the most crucial skills you’ll need to succeed on the MCAT!

Deven, one of your MCAT mentors, is here to tell you the skills he learned as a philosophy major that helped him on his MCAT journey in this Youtube video!

Deven scored a 521 on his MCAT (that’s in the 99th%!) and he likes to credit his MCAT success to skills he developed as a humanities major. Today, he’s in his 2nd year of med school and is one step closer to becoming a doctor!

How My Philosophy Major Helped My MCAT Studying

If you're considering majoring in humanities and being premed, I'm here to encourage you to go for it. 

I'm a tutor at MedLife Mastery, and I'd like to share with you my MCAT journey as a philosophy major as I credit much of my success on the MCAT to my major.

I want to share with you some lessons that will help you improve your testing strategies on the MCAT. The most important philosophy-related skill that I learned that helped me tremendously on the MCAT was reading with purpose. When you're studying philosophy, you cannot avoid long and dense readings.

Before I was a philosophy major, I used to read readings really fast, maybe the day before class or right before class, and I never reread any readings. But when I started my major, I knew that this was an unsustainable strategy.

If you don't understand most of the readings, you really can't participate in class at all, and you can't really write any essay about what you want to read. So I started to prepare my class readings three to four days in advance, and most importantly, I would reread my readings. The reality is that very few people can read something one time and articulate its argument perfectly. I know I can't, so repeated readings were essential for my learning.

First, I would read to understand the framework of the author's argument, and then I would read to figure out if there were strong or weak claims. Finally, I would read and make note of any possible objections or questions that I had.

Read With Purpose!

Reading with purpose was a skill I developed every day in my undergraduate career. Similarly, every MCAT test taker should read with purpose. In the CARS section, the AAMC explicitly states that it wants test takers to read with purpose, and they outline three skills that support this. Foundations of comprehension, reasoning within the text, and reasoning beyond the text.

So in the same way that I read philosophy, I read CARS passages with three goals in mind. To understand the author's argument, to identify evidence to support the author's claims, and to think about inferences and objections I can make based on the reading.

These three goals matched the skills outlined by the AAMC, and setting them allowed me to approach CARS passages like readings for class. I would read the passage first and identify the parts of the argument and claims that were quite strong and well-supported.

When reading the questions, I would know exactly what they referred to in the passage, and on my second pass, I'd identify the evidence required to support my answer or get rid of an answer. Having goals when reading allowed me to always search for what was important, and as a result, prepare myself for the questions.

How To Easily Identify The Purpose Of Your MCAT Passage

Secondly, philosophy required me to identify and construct good arguments. The field of philosophy is massive, from epistemology to ethics. I had to be accurate in assessing the scope of the philosophical arguments I read and ultimately wrote. 

Similarly, every MCAT passage has a purpose and a scope. Some conclusions cannot be drawn from experiments and experimental data. Some inferences are too far-fetched if made from the passage's argument. Test takers have to put themselves in the shoes of who they believe to be the audience of the passage. For the content-based sections, they have to think of themselves as scientists learning about an experiment for the first time and making conclusions from it. 

So, ask yourself, what can be extrapolated from the data? What concepts do I need to draw upon to understand the experimental design? Understanding what we can and cannot conclude from the passage or experimental data is an essential skill.

A simple change like pausing at the end of each paragraph in the passage and understanding its purposes and contribution to the whole argument is something that will do wonders for you over time.

You Got This!

To conclude, reading with purpose and working within the scope of the passage were two skills I cultivated as a philosophy major that helped me on the MCAT. Like all skills tested on the MCAT, these two take time and practice to improve.

I know firsthand that preparing for the MCAT is a difficult journey, but the development you undergo through the entire process is what will help you succeed.

Thank you for your time. Please check out our free blog with other tips and videos from top MCAT scorers. Good luck with the rest of your preparation.

A Rigorous Journey Ahead

If you’re also a humanities major like Deven, take a moment and consider all the techniques you’ve developed in your classes that will make a difference in your own MCAT prep.

And if you’re not so keen on studying humanities like Deven, or are perhaps allergic to humanities subjects in general - that’s okay too because hopefully this video has given you some valuable insight into the unique skills he learned that will be useful for your own MCAT journey. 

The techniques he shares in his video are just the tip of the iceberg. For more personalized help that will get you to your goal score, our one-on-one tutoring might be the solution you’re looking for

At the end of the day, regardless of your major and what you’ve studied, the MCAT is going to be a rigorous journey for you.

Deven had to go through 6 grueling months of studying filled with score fluctuations and self doubt but he came out of it successful with a dazzling 521. 

Never lose focus of that goal score of yours and it’ll become a reality for you too!

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!

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