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Blog / How To Take And Analyze An MCAT Diagnostic Test

How to Take and Analyze an MCAT Diagnostic Test

Written by Nassim on Aug 11, 2022

Before you begin your MCAT Marathon, you must decide on your starting point, which will help you plan your MCAT preparation. Before you begin preparing, it’s essential to know your strengths and weaknesses. The best way to create an ideal MCAT study plan is to analyze the first MCAT diagnostic test. Keep reading if you are looking for the best ways to review how to take and MCAT diagnostic test and how to analyze your results. 

Some students believe that taking an MCAT diagnostic test is unnecessary or that it is not effective to take a test while you are unprepared for it. If you are unsure about taking an MCAT diagnostic test, in the following, we will shortly discuss why it is necessary. 

Is It Worth Taking the MCAT Diagnostic Test?

As noted above, some applicants feel that before studying the content of the MCAT, there is no need to take an MCAT diagnostic test. But keep in mind that the diagnostic test doesn’t have anything to do with your performance or your score. Instead, it is the best way to find a start point for your MCAT journey. In fact, the day of the MCAT diagnostic test should be the first day of your preparation. It is therefore important to take this test only when you are sure you want to start preparing for the MCAT. 

Here are a couple of other important reasons to take the MCAT diagnostic test:

  1. Since MCAT is not like any other test you have taken before, you cannot only rely on your previous experiences. 
  2. Since MCAT covers a wide variety of content, Without an MCAT diagnostic test, you cannot measure your knowledge about each section. 
  3. An MCAT diagnostic test provides you with a better understanding of your strengths and weaknesses so that you will know what you need to review and improve in the coming months. 
  4. By taking an MCAT diagnostic test, you can understand the MCAT structure.
  5. An MCAT diagnostic test simulates test conditioning, so you will understand whether you are mentally and physically ready to take a 7-hour test or not. So you will have enough time to improve your mental and physical condition if it is necessary. 

Whatever your MCAT diagnostic test score is, you should not be disappointed. You need to take this test to analyze your performance and to apply the information of this analysis throughout your MCAT preparation. You can make a mistake for several reasons ranging from carelessness to lack of knowledge. Reviewing the MCAT diagnostic test gives you a better idea about the source of your mistake. 

How to Analyze an MCAT Diagnostic Test?

The best way to review the MCAT diagnostic test is to review yourself instead of reviewing questions. This means that besides the raw score of each question, you also need to remember what you’re thinking about it. So it is preferred to start analyzing your MCAT diagnostic test less than one week after taking it. However, it would help if you did not do the review on the test day. You need to review every question so that it will last longer than the test time. You should review all the questions and not only the incorrect or flagged ones. The ideal time for reviewing the MCAT diagnostic test is the day after the test day because you have time to take a break from a full-length diagnostic test and you still remember all the details of test.

Best Ways to Review the MCAT Diagnostic Test:

Strategy 1: Make a Simple Data Table:

Use Excel or Google sheets to make a simple table. In each column, put one of the following questions. The first column is the number of each MCAT diagnostic question. 

  1. Have I answered this question correctly? 
  2. How did I approach this question? (What did I think about it?)
  3. How does AAMC approach this question?
  4. Does this question take me a while to answer? 
  5. Why did I miss this question?

Whether your answer is correct or incorrect, you need to analyze your approach and thoughts about it. 

By answering the second and third questions, you can compare your approach to that of the AAMC to better understand the MCAT’s structure. More importantly, after a while, you will comprehend how test takers think and what they care about. List your thoughts on the question, followed by the AAMC approach so that you can see the differences and similarities. Sometimes, it might be exactly the same, but most of the time, there are some differences even if you answered it correctly.

You must answer question 4 to be able to understand the form of more time-consuming questions. Then you know that you have to be stricter with yourself while doing this specific question. 

You might miss a question due for several reasons, so do not fool yourself with thoughts like ”I hadn’t studied this topic before” or ”I just hadn’t enough knowledge about this topic”. These kinds of traps make you adopt the wrong approach to your mistakes. For example, you might answer some questions incorrectly only because you are not good at doing math without a calculator. If that’s the case, instead of spending a long time studying the areas, you can improve your mathematical skills. Students often miss questions due to incorrect interpretation, math errors, and lack of knowledge. It is preferred to specify the type of contacts you haven’t enough knowledge about. This table allows you to find the pattern of your mistakes and understand your strength and weakness in each section.

Strategy 2: Review the Passages  

Another effective way to review the MCAT diagnostic test is to analyze passages. In the first step, you should use strategy 1 to review each question. Once you have analyzed all the questions in a passage, quickly go through the passage and find the parts you used to answer the questions. These parts are the essential parts of each passage. By using this strategy to analyze the MCAT diagnostic test passage, you can figure out what types of information are important for test takers. That is, you can understand what the buzzwords are in every passage. 

Moreover, there is much useful information that you can get from passages. So while you are reviewing your diagnostic test, go back to the passages and make sure that you understand everything about them, including the graphs and tables. You need to review all the parts of the passage; even if there is no question on that part, you still can get important information from it. As you review passages, you may have trouble understanding a verbal passage or a figure. Mark the parts that you cannot understand so you can find some sources to learn these contents.

Another recommendation when analyzing MCAT diagnostic tests is to read all the choices instead of the right one. With this strategy, you will be able to understand the logic of the test makers, so the trap answers won’t easily trick you. While you are reviewing the MCAT diagnostic test, you can list all the concepts tested in this specific exam, but obviously, one practice test cannot cover all the contents. It is therefore important to make sure that you add these concepts as well as all related concepts to your study plan. 

Strategy 3: Analyze the MCAT Diagnostic Test in Three Layers 

First Layer

After your MCAT test, record all of your thoughts and feelings regarding the test and your performance in each section. If you sense that there is a strong or weak point, you need to write about it. If at any point during the diagnostic test you felt exhausted, stressed, or in the zone, you should write about it. It is also important to write about all the strategies that you used during the diagnostic test. Then check your raw score for each section and compare your feelings and exceptions with your performance.

Second Layer

Now it is time to analyze your incorrect and flagged answers. You can simply go through the wrong and flagged spreadsheet. First of all, think about your wrong answers and try to categorize why you made mistakes. It could be due to wrong interpretation, lack of knowledge, math error, reasoning, or attention to detail. You need to analyze all the flagged questions, even if you answered them correctly. For whatever reason you were unsure of your answer, you have to figure out the reason.

Third Layer

As was mentioned earlier, one of the important parts of analyzing an MCAT diagnostic test is to review all the passages, tables, and graphs. All the information in all the practice tests is relevant. When reviewing each section, you need to categorize all the questions and passages. It is not enough to break them down into physics, biology, or biochemistry. Instead, you can use labels to show which question or passage was about motivation and emotion, DNA, Light and Optics, Enzymes, magnetism, language development, and so on. At this point, you need to write a summary of the passages and questions that are related to any of these subjects. Through this strategy, you not only can make sure that you won’t lose any important information, but also you will have a couple of good notes to review.

Do Not Rely on Simple Statistics

Some students think the best and quickest way to review is to find some pattern based on simple statistics. Of course, it is a fast way, but as stated earlier, you do not need to rush to analyze the MCAT diagnostic test correctly. For example, if, based on statistics, you recognized that you changed the right choice for the wrong one when you are uncertain, it does not mean that you should stick to the first choice. Instead, you need to figure out why you made a mistake so you will do better in future tests. 

Create an MCAT Study Plan Based on MCAT Diagnostic Test Analysis

Reviewing the MCAT diagnostic test is the first step to creating an effective study plan. As mentioned earlier, you can find valuable information by analyzing your MCAT diagnostic tests, such as your strengths and weaknesses. Keep in mind that the MCAT preparation is not just about mastering the content. To do well on the MCAT, you need to improve too many skills. So, for example, if you recognize that you are not good with reasoning after the MCAT diagnostic test analysis, instead of studying relevant content, you need to find effective ways to improve your reasoning skill. If you analyze your diagnostic test accurately, the result will show you the areas where you should spend more or less time. It also can give you an overview of your current situation, so you will understand how much time you need to get prepared for the MCAT.

As you progress in your MCAT preparation, you will take more full-length MCAT practice tests. It is essential to analyze these tests as well; then, you can compare the results to observe your progress. Analyzing an MCAT diagnostic test is the best way to find an ideal starting point. And after weeks or months of studying, this analysis will help you understand how far you have come. It definitely builds your confidence and motivates you to follow your study plan. 

To take your first MCAT Diagnostic Exam, CLICK HERE!


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