Sydney’s Journey To A 518 On The MCAT

June 25, 2024

minute read

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Have you ever put hours and hours into MCAT prep, spent a whole day doing a practice test, and then find out your score didn't even increase...

Yeah, us too  🙃

It's not a great feeling, but let us assure you that this is so normal!

In fact, it's something that has inspired your MedLife Mastery mentor Sydney to create a video about it!

For weeks and weeks, Sydney consistently scored in the low 500s and was frustrated knowing that wasn't good enough. That was until she found the right strategies and resources that turned her MCAT prep around and let her score a 518 on test day!!

Get a view into what Sydney's MCAT experience was like to learn how you can become a top scorer too, as she covers:

I started prepping for the MCAT in my junior year of college. I was still taking classes, doing my extracurriculars, and maintaining somewhat of a social life.

An Unexpected Road Block In My MCAT Journey

I began my prep like I did most academic things in my life, and that was by making a plan. 

I am known for making color-coded spreadsheets, and that is exactly what I did. I wrote out the dates from December all the way until my test, which was scheduled for the end of May. I then broke down my Kaplan review books in terms of what content needed to be covered by what date.

I was going through these Kaplan books for about 5 months, and I felt like I had a pretty good grasp of the content. 

I had taken the necessary premed classes, I had completed the review prep books, but my scores on the Kaplan practice tests were pretty stagnant…

I wasn't seeing any growth in my score and I was starting to get a little bit discouraged just because I knew my test date was coming up and I was stuck in a 500 score plateau.

Thankfully - which is interesting to say now because I was upset at the time - my MCAT ended up getting pushed back due to COVID restrictions.

So, my May date was canceled and I ended up getting a makeup date in July. 

I had two months left to do the rest of my prep and I had finished the content review. I didn't know what else was left to do. I was taking a day to decompress and reassess my plan for the next two months to have success on the MCAT.

The Key To Breaking My Score Plateau

I came across MedLife Mastery, and I was curious about it because I had never really seen anything like it before. I didn't really use any strategy prep resources so I decided to purchase that, ended up reading their strategies from front to back, and I was shocked. 

The biggest takeaway that I had from that was practice questions are gold in MCAT prep.

We've all taken the same classes that you have to take for medical school and we've all done some form of content prep. But the real benefit and the real jump in scores comes from doing practice questions and doing the AAMC practice questions. So two months before my test date, I purchased those for the first time.

I spent those next two months digging into the practice questions followed by a full review of what went wrong in those questions

I started taking the AAMC practice tests, and I started to see a huge jump in my score. I slowly realized that the test is less about applying your knowledge. 

Yes, that is a huge component of it. But there's also this part of, can you think critically and not get distracted by trick answer choices? Can you discern what information is actually important to answer the question? And can you determine which answer choice is the "most right"?

So I realized that yes, this MCAT is a content test, and yes, they're testing my science-based knowledge, but you're also trying to trick me. And that realization changed the whole way I was approaching the MCAT, the whole way I was doing the MCAT, and I really started to see these big jumps in my score from being stagnant in the low 500s to my last practice test before I took the actual MCAT was a 520.

Understanding How To Apply Your Knowledge Is A Game-Changer

I felt like I was slowly cracking the MCAT code and realizing, how do I apply the knowledge I already have to these new questions?

I ended up taking my MCAT at the beginning of July and ended up with a 518 overall!

When I looked at my score breakdown, though, I was shocked. I scored the highest on my Chem/Phys section, which I was consistently doing relatively poorly on as I was doing my MCAT prep because I've really never been a chemistry or physics person. 

But this test and this score showed me that you don't have to be a chemistry/physics genius to do really well in that section. You just have to understand how to apply the basic knowledge you have to answer the questions.

So through that, I realized we've all taken the classes, we've all taken the steps to really understand the material. It's just learning how to apply it and how to not get tricked by the MCAT writers.

Why I Became An MCAT Tutor

I wanted to become an MCAT tutor because I want you to have the same realization that you've done the work, and you've put in the hours to understand the content. 

Now we just have to make sure you have the confidence to apply that knowledge and not get tricked by the MCAT writers to achieve your dream score.

I have learned a lot from tutoring so far. I learned for myself that I really like being able to cheer people along on this journey. 

I know it's really isolating and can be a really lonely experience studying for the MCAT with people in your life who maybe don't understand why you have to dedicate so much time and energy to this test.

But I like the role I get to play as not only a tutor but also hopefully as a friend and champion you along and helping you gain the confidence you need to go in and just absolutely crush the MCAT.

I've also learned a lot from my students in that not everyone has the same learning style and not every approach works the same for every student. So I've learned that you have to approach everyone as their own unique person and learn, tailor your tutoring strategies so that it best suits that student's needs. 

And then you come up with this individualized plan together so that you're able to achieve your specific and targeted goals!

Your Next Steps To Achieving Your Score Goal

I want to encourage you in that you do know this information, you've taken the classes and that's why you're here. That's why you're gearing up to take this test. You've done the content review. Now it's time to dig deep and find a strategy that works best for you!

If you're a little bit lost on where to begin with that strategy, I would encourage you to maybe look into using MedLife Mastery and sign up for the free MCAT strategy email, which you can sign up for. And that would be a really great place to kickstart your strategy sessions and figure out how to move from that content-based learning to a strategic approach to the MCAT.

So I'll leave you with that. You know what you're doing. You've got this. I believe in you. And best of luck with all your studying.


So if you need a reminder that not hitting your goal score right now is okay and that you can get where you want to be quick, this video is a must-watch!

And do you know what you and Sydney have in common? Both of you found MedLife Mastery during your MCAT prep! So be sure to take full advantage of our affordable strategy courses and 1:1 private tutoring to become a top scorer too!

So, next time find yourself at a roadblock during MCAT prep, remind yourself that it's okay! 

Even top scorers face situations like this, but what matters the most is how you bounce back and do better.

So don't let these roadblocks stop you from making your doctor dreams a reality and keep pushing on!

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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