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MCAT: A Comprehensive Guide

Written by Seza on Jul 7, 2023
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The MCAT is a crucial exam for aspiring medical students. Preparing for the MCAT can be long and arduous both for students and their families supporting them throughout this journey. It is important to familiarize oneself with what to expect throughout this path. That is why we have decided to prepare this ultimate guide for MCAT students and their parents and supporters to give them a detailed guide and shed as much light as possible on this process. This guide will cover all the essential topics about MCAT prep, from introduction to the MCAT exam, structure and format, registration and scheduling, content breakdown, study plan and strategies, resources, test day tips, scoring, and medical school admissions. Proper preparation is essential to achieve a competitive score. This comprehensive guide will provide you with valuable insight into everything you need to know about the MCAT exam and to prepare for it. So if you are a student who wants to take the MCAT or you are a parent of a premed student, read on. This guide is for you.

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Create an Effective MCAT Study Plan

Preparing for the MCAT requires careful planning and a well-structured study plan. With the right approach, you can maximize your study time, cover all necessary content, and improve your chances of achieving a competitive score. In this article, we will provide you with a step-by-step guide on creating an effective MCAT study plan to help you excel on the exam.

Step 1: Set Clear Goals

Before diving into your study plan, setting clear goals for your MCAT preparation is crucial. Consider the following steps:

Understand Your Target Score: 

Research the average MCAT scores of the medical schools you are interested in and determine the score you need to be competitive.

Read more about “Medical School Tiers and Scores” you need.

Identify Admission Requirements:

Familiarize yourself with the admission requirements of the schools you plan to apply to, such as minimum MCAT score, prerequisite courses, and GPA expectations.

Read more about “How Admissions Committees Work.

Define Section-Specific Goals: 

Understand the different sections of the MCAT (Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems, Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills, Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems, and Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior). Set specific goals for each section based on your strengths and weaknesses.

Step 2: Assess Your Strengths and Weaknesses

To create an effective study plan, it’s important to identify your strengths and weaknesses. This will allow you to allocate more time to areas that require improvement. Follow these steps:

Take a Diagnostic Practice Test:

Begin by taking a full-length MCAT diagnostic practice test. Several resources, including the AAMC Practice Exam, are available online. This will provide a baseline assessment of your current performance.

Read more about “AAMC FLs“.

Analyze Your Results: 

Thoroughly review the diagnostic test results. Identify areas where you performed well and areas that need improvement. Look for patterns of mistakes and content gaps.

Step 3: Plan Your Study Schedule

Now that you clearly understand your goals and strengths/weaknesses, it’s time to create a study schedule that works for you. Follow these steps:

Determine Your Study Timeline: 

Consider the amount of time you have available for MCAT preparation. Ideally, plan for at least three to six months of focused study.

Break Down Your Study Plan:

Divide your study plan into phases, such as content review, practice questions, and full-length exams. Allocate sufficient time for each phase based on your personal timeline.

Allocate Study Hours:

Determine the number of study hours you can dedicate each day or week. Be realistic and consider your other commitments. Aim for a balance between productivity and avoiding burnout.

Consider Your Learning Style:

Take into account your preferred learning style. Some individuals prefer reading textbooks, while others prefer video lectures or interactive online platforms. Choose resources that align with your learning preferences.

Read more about “Effective MCAT Study Plan“.

Step 4: Utilize a Variety of Study Resources

To create a comprehensive study plan, it’s essential to utilize a variety of study resources. Consider the following options:

Official AAMC Material: 

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) provides official MCAT resources, including the Official MCAT Guide and Practice Exams. These resources reflect the actual test format and can help you familiarize yourself with MCAT-style questions.

Review Books: 

Choose reputable MCAT review books from credible publishers. These books provide in-depth content review, practice questions, and helpful strategies.

Online Platforms:

Supplement your study plan with online platforms such as Khan Academy. These platforms offer additional practice questions, video lectures, and interactive study materials.

Study Groups and Forums: 

Join MCAT study groups or online forums to connect with peers, discuss challenging topics, share resources, and gain valuable insights.

Step 5: Create Study Milestones

To stay on track and measure your progress, setting study milestones is important. Follow these steps:

Divide Your Study Plan into Phases: 

Divide your study plan into manageable phases: content review, practice, and final review. Each phase should have its own set of milestones.

Set Weekly Goals: 

Break down your study plan into weekly goals. Identify specific topics or chapters to cover and the number of practice questions or passages to complete.

Track Your Progress:

Regularly assess your progress against your set milestones and adjust your study plan if needed. Celebrate small victories and learn from any setbacks.


Step 6: Adapt and Evolve

As you progress through your study plan, be open to adapting and evolving your strategies based on your performance and changing needs. Consider the following:

Monitor Your Performance: 

Regularly review your practice test scores, section-based performances, and overall progress. Identify areas that need improvement and adjust your study plan accordingly.

Seek Support: 

Feel free to seek additional support if you’re struggling with specific content areas or study techniques. Reach out to tutors, mentors, or online communities for guidance.

Stay Motivated and Take Care of Yourself:

MCAT preparation can be demanding. Maintain your motivation by celebrating milestones, taking breaks when needed, and practicing self-care to avoid burnout.

Best Recommended MCAT Study Resources

Preparing for the MCAT requires access to reliable and comprehensive study resources. With numerous options available, it can be overwhelming to choose the best ones. In this article, we have compiled a list of the best recommended MCAT study resources to help you streamline your preparation and increase your chances of achieving a competitive score.

Official AAMC Material:

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) offers the most authentic and reliable MCAT resources. These resources are essential for understanding the test format and content. Here are the key AAMC resources to consider:

Official MCAT Guide: 

This comprehensive guide provides an overview of the exam, content outlines, and sample questions. It helps you understand the test structure and focus on the key topics.

AAMC Practice Exams:

These practice exams closely resemble the actual MCAT and are invaluable for assessing your readiness. They accurately gauge your performance and help you acclimate to the test format.

AAMC Section Bank:

This resource contains a collection of challenging MCAT-style questions. It allows you to practice applying your knowledge and critical thinking skills to specific sections.

  1. Online Platforms and Question Banks:

Online platforms and question banks offer additional practice resources and interactive study materials. Consider the following options:

Khan Academy:

This free online platform offers comprehensive video lectures, practice questions, and passages for each MCAT section. It provides a wealth of content and is especially helpful for visual learners.

Jack Westin:

Jack Westin offers a wide variety of free and paid MCAT prep resources. Jack Westin’s MCAT services include MCAT prep courses, MCAT tutoring, MCAT coaching, Medical School admissions, question banks, and more.

  1. Anki Flashcards:

Anki is a popular flashcard software that uses spaced repetition to help you reinforce key concepts and enhance long-term memory retention. Consider using pre-made MCAT flashcard decks or creating your own to review and reinforce important information.

Read more about how to use “Anki flashcards for MCAT Prep“.

     2. MCAT Subreddits and Online Forums:

Engaging with online communities can provide valuable insights, study tips, and peer support. Consider joining MCAT-focused subreddits such as r/MCAT and online forums to connect with fellow test-takers, share resources, and seek advice.

Jack Westin’s MCAT Prep Resources

One notable name in the field of MCAT prep is Jack Westin, who offers a range of resources designed to help students excel in this rigorous exam. In this section, we will explore the various MCAT prep resources provided by Jack Westin and discuss their features and benefits.


Jack Westin MCAT Question of the Day:

The “Jack Westin MCAT Question of the Day” is a popular resource offered by Jack Westin. This free service provides students with a daily MCAT-style passage and related questions via email (visit here to subscribe). It covers all sections of the MCAT, including Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Psychology, and Sociology. This resource allows students to practice their critical thinking and analytical skills while becoming familiar with the types of questions they may encounter on the exam.

MCAT CARS Strategy and Other Courses:

The MCAT CARS Strategy Course is one of Jack Westin’s flagship offerings. CARS is often considered one of the most challenging sections of the MCAT, and this course aims to provide students with a solid foundation in reading comprehension and critical reasoning skills. It includes video lessons, practice passages, and strategies to enhance comprehension and time management. This course is particularly beneficial for students aiming to improve their performance in the verbal reasoning section of the MCAT. All Jack Westin courses have free trial sessions. You will have unlimited access to the courses you have purchased. These courses are instructed by some of the world’s most experienced MCAT instructors.


MCAT Question Bank:

The Jack Westin MCAT Question Bank is a comprehensive collection of MCAT-style questions covering all sections of the exam. It offers a vast array of passage-based questions designed to assess students’ knowledge, comprehension, and critical thinking abilities. The question bank provides detailed explanations for each answer choice, allowing students to understand the reasoning behind correct and incorrect responses. It is an invaluable resource for targeted practice and reinforcing content knowledge. You can access 9000+ questions and do not need to pay for a question bank. Jack Westin offers detailed analytics based on your performance, so you will have access to free MCAT content diagnostic.

MCAT Tutoring

Jack Westin provides one-on-one MCAT tutoring for students seeking personalized guidance and support. Experienced tutors work closely with students to identify their strengths and weaknesses, develop personalized study strategies, and provide targeted feedback on practice passages and full-length exams. This personalized approach helps students optimize their study efforts, focus on areas that require improvement, and build confidence for the MCAT.

MCAT Coaching

One-on-one personalized attention throughout your MCAT prep can be just what you need. There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to the MCAT. Jack Westin offers MCAT coaching to premed students as well. Your Private MCAT Coach will create an effective and realistic study plan (schedule) that will get you to the finish line. Jack Westin’s Private Coaching Team has 15+ years of experience motivating students who are in the midst of MCAT prep. Your Coach will hold you accountable with a study plan along with techniques that align with how you learn.


Podcasts can be a convenient and informative resource for supplementing your MCAT preparation. Jack Westin’s MCAT podcast is a great free supplement resource to help you with MCAT prep. Some world-renowned instructors like Phil Hawkins and Azaii Calderón Muiz host it. They discuss a variety of MCAT-related topics, including content review, introducing resources, mental health discussions, and more.

Facebook MCAT Study Group:

Facebook study groups can be a helpful platform for connecting with other MCAT test takers, sharing resources, and seeking support. Consider joining Facebook groups such as “MCAT Study Group” by Jack Westin MCAT Prep: Jack Westin MCAT Prep’s Facebook group allows students to connect, share study strategies, and discuss challenging passages and questions.


Jack Westin’s flashcard app is free. It has mobile and desktop versions and uses spaced repetition for efficient content review.

Medical School Admissions

Jack Westin also offers medical school admissions consulting. The best thing about Jack Westin’s medical school admissions consulting is that we only let students hire us if WE BELIEVE we can get you into a school on your list. We have a 94% acceptance rate, and thorough due diligence is performed before any other steps are taken.

The Most Effective MCAT Study Techniques and Tips

With the right approach, you can optimize your study time, retain information better, and improve your overall performance on the exam. This section will explore the most effective MCAT study techniques and tips to help you maximize your preparation efforts.

Active Learning:

More than passively reading textbooks or notes are required for MCAT success. Engage in active learning techniques to enhance understanding and retention:

  • Summarize and Teach: 

After studying a concept, summarize it in your own words. Teaching the concept to others, even if it’s imaginary, helps solidify your understanding.

  • Mnemonic Devices: 

Remember complex information using mnemonic devices, such as acronyms or memorable phrases. These creative techniques can be powerful memory aids.

  • Visualization: 

Visualize complex processes or structures. Create mental images that connect different elements, making them easier to recall during the exam.

Spaced Repetition:

Spaced repetition is a scientifically proven technique that optimizes long-term memory retention. Implement these strategies:

  • Review and Recall: 

Regularly review previously studied material. Test yourself on important concepts, and revisit them at increasing intervals to reinforce your memory.

  • Flashcards and Anki: 

Utilize flashcards or digital-spaced repetition platforms like Anki to create a personalized review system. Consistently review and revise the flashcards to reinforce your knowledge.

Practice with Timed Questions:

The MCAT is a time-sensitive exam, so practicing with timed questions is crucial. Develop your pacing and test-taking skills:

  • Simulate Exam Conditions:

Practice questions and full-length exams under timed conditions. This helps build your stamina and familiarize you with the time constraints.

  • Strategize Time Allocation: 

Learn to allocate your time wisely during the exam. Prioritize questions based on difficulty, and spend only a little bit of time on any single question.

Analyze Mistakes and Learn from Them:

Analyzing and learning from your mistakes is essential for improvement. Follow these steps:

  • Review Incorrect Answers: 

Review questions you answered incorrectly or struggled with. Understand why you made the mistake and identify any knowledge gaps.

  • Address Knowledge Gaps: 

Use your mistakes as a learning opportunity. Revisit the corresponding content, seek additional explanations, and ensure a thorough understanding.

  • Focus on Conceptual Understanding: 

Emphasize understanding the underlying concepts rather than memorizing isolated facts. This helps you apply your knowledge to new and unfamiliar scenarios.

  • Utilize Practice Exams and Section Bank Questions:

Practice exams and section bank questions are invaluable for MCAT preparation:

  • AAMC Practice Exams:

Take advantage of official AAMC practice exams. These accurately reflect the test format and provide an authentic MCAT experience.

  • Section Bank Questions:

The AAMC section banks contain challenging questions that closely resemble the MCAT. Practice with these questions to enhance critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

  • Take Breaks and Prioritize Self-Care:

Remember to take care of yourself during the demanding MCAT preparation period

  • Take Regular Breaks: 

Frequent short breaks can actually improve productivity and focus. Allow your brain time to rest and recharge.

  • Exercise and Physical Activity: 

Engage in regular physical activity to reduce stress and improve cognitive function. Exercise has been shown to enhance memory and concentration.

  • Get Sufficient Sleep: 

Prioritize sleep to consolidate your learning and maintain optimal cognitive function. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night.

Best Ways to Balance MCAT Content Review and MCAT Practice

While comprehensive content knowledge is crucial, practicing with MCAT-style questions and exams is equally important to develop test-taking skills and applying acquired knowledge effectively. In this section, we will explore the best ways to balance MCAT content review and MCAT practice to optimize your preparation and maximize your chances of success.

Understand the Importance of Balance:

Balancing content review and practice is essential for a well-rounded MCAT preparation. Merely focusing on content review without sufficient practice can lead to difficulty applying knowledge in exam-like conditions. Conversely, excessive practice without adequate content review may result in gaps in understanding. Striking the right balance is key to achieving a competitive MCAT score.

  • Create a Structured Study Schedule:

Developing a structured study schedule helps you allocate sufficient time to content review and practice. Consider the following tips:

  • Prioritize High-Yield Topics: 

Identify high-yield topics and allocate more time to their comprehensive review. These topics are more likely to appear on the exam and require solid understanding.

  • Alternate Between Content Review and Practice: 

Incorporate alternating study sessions between the content review and practice questions or passages. This allows for consistent exposure to both elements throughout your preparation.

  • Allocate Time Proportionately: 

Determine the ideal time allocation based on your strengths and weaknesses. For example, if you struggle with certain content areas, allocate more time to review them while maintaining a balance with practice.

  • Utilize Study Resources Strategically:

Effectively utilizing study resources can aid in balancing content review and practice. Consider the following strategies:

  • Review Books and Online Resources: 

Utilize comprehensive review books to cover all necessary MCAT topics. Combine this with online resources like Khan Academy or AAMC materials to access additional content and practice questions.

  • Integrated Review Materials: 

Opt for study resources that integrate content review with practice questions. This allows you to reinforce knowledge immediately after reviewing a specific topic or concept.

  • Question Banks and Practice Exams: 

Utilize question banks and full-length practice exams, such as those offered by AAMC, to assess your progress, identify areas of improvement, and simulate the exam experience.

  • Implement Active Learning Techniques:

Incorporating active learning techniques into your study routine enhances both content review and practice. Consider the following approaches:

  • Conceptual Understanding: 

Focus on understanding concepts rather than memorizing isolated facts. This promotes the effective application of knowledge to MCAT-style questions.

  • Annotate and Summarize: 

Take detailed notes, highlight important points, and create concise summaries as you review content. This aids in consolidation and recalls during practice sessions.

  • Teach and Explain: 

Teach concepts to others or explain them as if you were teaching a class. This helps solidify your understanding and identify areas that require further clarification.

  • Gradually Increase Practice Intensity:

As you progress in your preparation, gradually increase the intensity of your practice sessions. This ensures a smooth transition from content review to applying knowledge in exam-like conditions:

  • Start with Individual Practice Questions: 

Begin by practicing with individual questions to develop fundamental skills and reinforce specific concepts.

  • Progress to Section-Based Practice: 

Gradually move on to practicing sections of the MCAT to simulate the exam structure and build endurance.

  • Transition to Full-Length Practice Exams: 

As your test date approaches, incorporate full-length practice exams to assess your overall readiness and identify areas that need improvement.

  • Analyze Performance and Adjust:

Regularly analyze your performance on practice questions and exams to identify strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement. Adjust your study plan accordingly:

  • Review Mistakes: 

Carefully review incorrect answers to understand the underlying concepts or reasoning. This helps address knowledge gaps and improve future performance.

  • Identify Weak Areas: 

Identify topics or question types where you consistently struggle. Allocate additional study time to these areas and seek additional resources or guidance if needed.

  • Fine-tune Study Schedule: 

Adjust your study schedule based on your performance analysis. Allocate more time to areas that require further review or practice while maintaining balance with content review.

The Most Effective Ways to Review MCAT Practice Exams

Reviewing MCAT practice exams is a critical component of your test preparation journey. It allows you to assess your strengths and weaknesses, identify areas for improvement, and fine-tune your study approach. In this part, we will explore the most effective ways to review MCAT practice exams, helping you gain valuable insights and optimize your performance on the actual exam.

Take Time to Decompress:

Before diving into the review process, take some time to decompress and clear your mind. Allow yourself a brief break to relax and recharge. This will help ensure that you approach the review process with a fresh perspective.

Analyze Overall Performance:

Begin by analyzing your overall performance on the practice exam. Consider the following key aspects:

Raw Score: 

Take note of your overall raw score to gauge your performance. This will give you a baseline to track your progress over time.

Time Management: 

Assess how well you managed your time during the exam. Identify sections or question types where you struggled with time constraints.

Score Distribution: 

Examine your scores for individual sections to determine areas of strength and weakness. This will help you focus your review efforts effectively.

Review Each Question Carefully:

Reviewing individual questions is a crucial step in the process. Follow these guidelines to ensure a thorough review:

Read the Passage or Question Stem: 

Begin by re-reading the passage or question stem to ensure a full understanding of the context and information provided.

Analyze Your Initial Thought Process: 

Reflect on your initial approach to the question. Did you correctly interpret the question? Were you confident in your chosen answer?

Identify Correct and Incorrect Answer Choices: 

Evaluate the answer choices, distinguishing between correct and incorrect options. Understand why the correct choice is right and why the incorrect choices are incorrect.

Assess Your Reasoning: 

Determine the reasoning behind your chosen answer. Was it based on solid knowledge and understanding? Or did you make an educated guess or rely on flawed reasoning?

Review Explanations: 

Compare your thought process and answer with the provided explanation. Pay attention to any gaps in your understanding or misconceptions that need clarification.

Take Notes: 

Make a note of key concepts, strategies, or reasoning patterns you discover during the review. These notes will serve as valuable references for future study sessions.

Identify Patterns and Knowledge Gaps:

As you review multiple practice exams, look for patterns in your mistakes and areas of improvement:

Content Areas: 

Identify specific content areas where you consistently struggle. Note these areas and prioritize them for additional focused review.

Question Types: 

Determine if there are particular question types that pose a challenge. Focus on understanding the underlying reasoning and strategies required for those question types.

Critical Thinking Skills: 

Assess your critical thinking skills, including your ability to analyze complex passages, interpret data, and apply knowledge to solve problems. Identify areas where you can improve these skills.

Seek Additional Resources:

If you encounter knowledge gaps or weaknesses during the review process, seek additional resources to strengthen your understanding:

Textbooks and Online Resources: 

Refer to comprehensive MCAT review textbooks or online resources to reinforce your knowledge in specific content areas.

Khan Academy: 

Utilize Khan Academy’s MCAT-specific content, video lessons, and practice questions to fill gaps in your understanding.

Tutors or Study Groups: 

Consider seeking guidance from MCAT tutors or joining study groups where you can discuss challenging concepts, exchange insights, and receive additional explanations.

Adjust Your Study Plan:

Based on the insights gained from your practice exam review, make adjustments to your study plan:

Focus on Weak Areas: 

Allocate more study time to the content areas and question types where you identified weaknesses during the review process.

Refine Test-Taking Strategies: 

Identify any test-taking strategies that can help improve your performance. This may include techniques for time management, the process of elimination, or data interpretation.

Revisit Concepts and Practice: 

Return to relevant study materials, review key concepts, and practice additional questions to reinforce your understanding and apply your knowledge effectively.

General Key Strategies for All of the MCAT Sections

Here are some of the key strategies that can be useful in preparing for all of the sections of the MCAT:

Master the Content:

To excel in MCAT, you must have a strong foundation of knowledge. Consider the following strategies for content mastery:

Review Basic Concepts:

 Start by reviewing fundamental concepts in each section. Understand key terms, processes, and principles that are frequently tested.

Utilize Study Resources:

Refer to comprehensive MCAT review books, online resources, and lecture notes to reinforce your understanding of core concepts. 

Focus on High-Yield Topics: 

Identify high-yield topics outlined by the AAMC. Allocate more study time to these areas as they are more likely to appear on the exam.

Use Jack Westin MCAT Prep: 

Utilize Jack Westin’s free daily passages and practice questions to improve your critical reading and comprehension skills.

Emphasize Critical Thinking and Analysis:

All the sections of the MCAT somehow require critical thinking skills to interpret and analyze complex scientific information. Consider the following strategies to enhance your analytical abilities:

Practice Data Interpretation: 

Familiarize yourself with interpreting data presented in graphs, tables, and experimental passages. Develop the ability to extract relevant information and draw conclusions from the data.

Connect Concepts: 

Understand the interconnectedness of the concepts. Practice relating different topics and applying knowledge from one area to another.

Apply Scientific Reasoning: 

Develop logical reasoning skills to evaluate experimental design, make predictions, and identify cause-and-effect relationships.

Develop Effective Passage-Reading Strategies:

All of the MCAT sections often include passages that provide context for multiple questions. Effective passage-reading strategies can help you save time and improve accuracy:

Skim the Passage:

Quickly read through the passage to get a general idea of the main topic, structure, and key terms. Pay attention to figures, tables, and bolded or italicized text that may highlight important information.

Identify Key Concepts: 

Identify the main ideas, experimental setup, and variables being tested in the passage. Take note of any trends, patterns, or relationships described.

Annotate and Highlight: 

Mark important details, keywords, and connections as you read. This will help you refer back to specific information when answering questions.

Summarize Each Paragraph: 

After reading each paragraph, mentally summarize its main point or purpose. This will aid in comprehension and make it easier to locate specific information when needed.

Practice Time Management:

Time management is crucial for MCAT prep. Consider the following time management strategies:

Set Time Limits for Passages: 

Assign a specific amount of time to each passage to ensure you allocate sufficient time for reading and answering questions. Stick to the allotted time to avoid getting stuck on a single passage.

Prioritize Easy Questions:

Start with the questions you find easier or are confident about. This will help you gain momentum and save time for more challenging questions.

Flag and Return: 

If you encounter a particularly difficult question, flag it and move on. Return to it later if time permits. It’s important to avoid getting stuck on one question and compromising the opportunity to answer other questions correctly.

Practice Timed Mock Exams: 

Simulate exam conditions by practicing timed mock exams. This will help you become familiar with the pacing required to complete the section within the given time limit.

Review and Analyze Practice Exams:

Regularly reviewing and analyzing your practice exam performance is crucial for identifying areas of improvement. Consider the following steps:

Analyze Mistakes: 

Review incorrect answers to understand the underlying concepts or reasoning errors. Identify common patterns or topics where you need further review.

Focus on Weak Areas: 

Allocate additional study time to the topics or question types where you consistently struggle. Utilize targeted resources to strengthen your understanding in these areas.

Simulate Exam Conditions: 

Take full-length practice exams under timed conditions to mimic the actual test environment. This will help you become comfortable with the time constraints and build endurance.

Approaches to the Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations Section of the MCAT

The Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations section assesses your understanding of the interplay between psychological, social, and biological factors in health and behavior. This section examines your knowledge of foundational concepts in psychology, sociology, and biology and your ability to apply these concepts to real-world scenarios. In this section, we will explore key approaches and strategies to help you excel in the Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations section of the MCAT.

Study Biological Foundations:

Review foundational concepts in biology that intersect with health’s psychological and social aspects. Understand principles related to genetics, physiology, neuroscience, and the impact of biology on behavior and health.

Utilize Study Resources: 

Refer to MCAT review books, online resources, and textbooks such as “Psychology” by David G. Myers and “Sociology” by John J. Macionis to reinforce your understanding of core concepts in psychology and sociology.

Understand Research Methods and Data Analysis:

The Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations section often includes passages that present research studies and data. Understanding research methods and data analysis is essential for interpreting and answering questions effectively. Consider the following strategies:

 Learn Research Methods: 

Familiarize yourself with different research designs, such as experimental, correlational, and observational studies. Understand the strengths and limitations of each method and how they contribute to our understanding of psychological, social, and biological phenomena.

Interpret Data: 

Develop skills in interpreting and analyzing research data presented in graphs, tables, and figures. Practice extracting relevant information, identifying trends or patterns, and drawing conclusions from the data.

Apply Psychological and Sociological Theories:

The Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations section requires you to apply psychological and sociological theories to real-world scenarios. Consider the following strategies:

Relate Concepts to Real-Life Examples:

Understand how psychological and sociological theories apply to various contexts, including healthcare, education, culture, and social interactions. Connect theories to practical examples to enhance your understanding and application skills.

Analyze Cause-and-Effect Relationships: 

Develop the ability to recognize cause-and-effect relationships between psychological, social, and biological factors. Practice analyzing how these factors interact and influence behavior, health outcomes, and societal issues.

Tips for the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills Section of the MCAT

The Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS) section of the MCAT assesses your ability to analyze and comprehend complex passages, evaluate arguments, and apply critical thinking skills. This section measures your reading comprehension, logic, and reasoning proficiency, which are essential skills for success in medical school and the medical profession. This comprehensive guide will explore key tips and strategies to help you excel in the CARS section of the MCAT.

Read more about “5 Common MCAT CARS Strategies“.

Develop Active Reading Skills:

Active reading is crucial for effectively navigating and understanding the passages in the CARS section. Consider the following strategies:

Identify the Author’s Argument: 

Determine the main argument or perspective presented by the author. Look for key supporting evidence, counterarguments, and the overall purpose of the passage.

Focus on Passage Structure and Organization:

Understanding the structure and organization of the passage is crucial for effective comprehension and analysis. Consider the following strategies:

Identify Passage Structure: 

Pay attention to the passage’s introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Understand how the author introduces the topic, presents evidence, and concludes their argument.

Recognize Transitions: 

Note transitional words and phrases that indicate shifts in the author’s argument or the organization of the passage. This will help you follow the author’s line of reasoning and identify the logical flow of ideas.

Identify Main Ideas and Supporting Details: 

Determine the main ideas of each paragraph and how they relate to the overall argument. Look for supporting evidence, examples, or anecdotes that strengthen the author’s position.

Read more about “Improving Your MCAT CARS Score“.

Enhance Critical Thinking and Reasoning Skills:

The CARS section requires strong critical thinking and reasoning abilities. Consider the following strategies to enhance these skills:

Evaluate Arguments: 

Analyze the author’s argument for strengths, weaknesses, and logical coherence. Consider the evidence provided, the validity of the reasoning, and potential counterarguments.

Recognize Assumptions: 

Identify underlying assumptions in the author’s argument. Evaluate the implications of these assumptions and how they influence the overall argument.

Practice Inference: 

Develop the ability to draw logical inferences and conclusions based on the information provided in the passage. Consider the author’s implied meaning, implications, and potential outcomes.

Manage Time Effectively:

Time management is crucial in the CARS section, as you have limited time to read passages and answer questions. Consider the following strategies:

Allocate Time for Each Passage: 

Divide your time evenly among the passages to ensure enough time for reading and answering questions. Prioritize efficiency while maintaining accuracy.

Pace Yourself: 

Set a comfortable reading pace that allows you to comprehend the passage while making steady progress. Avoid getting stuck on difficult passages or questions that may consume too much time.

Read more about 10 MCAT CARS tips that helped students the most.

Practice Regularly:

Regular practice is key to improving your performance in the CARS section. Consider the following strategies:


Read Diverse Materials: 

Expand your reading repertoire by engaging with a variety of texts, such as articles, essays, editorials, and academic papers. This will expose you to different writing styles and topics, helping you become a more adaptable reader.

Analyze Answer Choices: 

Review answer choices in practice questions and understand the rationale behind correct and incorrect options. This will help you better understand how the MCAT tests critical thinking skills.


MCAT Practice and Sample Questions

In this section, we will explore the importance of practice, discuss how to use practice exams effectively and delve into the process of analyzing and learning from your practice results. Throughout this discussion, we will also highlight the valuable resources provided by Jack Westin to aid in your MCAT preparation journey.

The Importance of Practice

Practice plays a pivotal role in MCAT preparation. It allows you to familiarize yourself with the exam format, question types, and time constraints, ultimately enhancing your test-taking skills. Furthermore, practice enables you to identify knowledge gaps and areas where you need to improve. By engaging in regular practice, you can build confidence and reduce anxiety on test day.

One excellent resource for MCAT practice is Jack Westin. They offer a wide range of practice questions covering all MCAT subject areas. Their passages and questions are designed to reflect the actual MCAT’s difficulty and style, providing an accurate simulation of the exam experience. Incorporating Jack Westin’s resources into your study routine can significantly enhance your preparation and increase your chances of success.

Using Practice Exams Effectively

Full-length practice exams are an essential component of MCAT preparation. These exams simulate the actual test conditions and help you gauge your performance under timed conditions. To make the most of practice exams, it is important to approach them strategically.

First and foremost, allocate dedicated time to complete a full-length practice exam in one sitting. This will help you develop the stamina and focus required to maintain your performance throughout the entire test. Treat the practice exam as if it were the real thing, adhering to the time limits for each section and minimizing distractions.

After completing the exam, thoroughly review your answers and understand the reasoning behind both correct and incorrect choices. Jack Westin offers detailed explanations for their practice questions, allowing you to comprehend the concepts and strategies underlying each question. Take note of your weak areas and focus your future study sessions on those topics.

Analyzing and Learning from Your Practice Results

Analyzing your practice results is an essential step in improving your performance. You can tailor your study plan by identifying your strengths and weaknesses. Start by reviewing your overall score and section-wise performance to understand which areas require additional attention.

Jack Westin provides score reports for their practice exams, which comprehensively analyze your performance. These reports highlight your performance in each subject area, allowing you to identify specific content areas where you need improvement. Additionally, Jack Westin’s performance tracking tools enable you to monitor your progress over time, providing valuable insights into your growth and areas of focus.

When analyzing your practice results, pay close attention to patterns and trends. Are there certain question types or topics that consistently trip you up? Do you need help with time management in specific sections? By recognizing these patterns, you can effectively modify your study approach to address your weaknesses.

The Role of Parents, Friends, and Families in Supporting Students Preparing for the MCAT Exam

During this challenging period, the support and encouragement of parents, friends, and families play a crucial role in the success of the aspiring medical student. Here, we will explore the role that loved ones can play in supporting students preparing for the MCAT exam and how their involvement can positively impact the student’s journey toward achieving their medical career aspirations.

Emotional Support and Encouragement

One of the most important ways in which parents, friends, and families can assist MCAT test-takers is by providing emotional support and encouragement. Studying for the MCAT can be mentally and emotionally taxing, and having a strong support system can make a significant difference. Simple gestures such as offering words of encouragement, listening to the student’s concerns, and being understanding during periods of stress can go a long way in boosting their confidence and motivation.

Creating a Supportive Environment

Creating a supportive environment at home is essential for students preparing for the MCAT. Parents and families can help by ensuring a quiet study space, minimizing distractions, and providing the necessary resources such as study materials and access to online resources. Additionally, understanding the demands of the MCAT preparation period and adjusting family schedules and activities accordingly can contribute to a more focused and conducive study environment.

Assisting with Practical Responsibilities

Preparing for the MCAT requires a significant investment of time and energy. Friends and family members can assist by taking on some of the student’s household responsibilities or offering to run errands. By relieving the student of certain tasks, they can allocate more time to study and alleviate the pressure of managing various responsibilities simultaneously.

Providing Motivation and Accountability

Friends and family members can serve as a source of motivation and accountability for MCAT test-takers. They can regularly check in with the student, inquire about their progress, and celebrate milestones achieved throughout preparation. This helps to keep the student motivated and focused on their goals. Setting up study groups or study sessions with friends can also foster a sense of camaraderie and healthy competition, further enhancing the student’s commitment to their MCAT preparation.

Offering Test-Taking Strategies and Resources

While friends and family members may need to gain expertise in the specific content areas of the MCAT, they can still offer valuable assistance by sharing general test-taking strategies and resources. They can help the student find reputable study materials, recommend helpful websites or online forums, or provide guidance on time management and effective study techniques. By leveraging their support networks, students can access a broader range of resources and perspectives, which can enhance their overall preparation.

Providing a Sense of Balance

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is essential during the MCAT preparation period. Friends and family members can play a vital role in reminding the student to take breaks, engage in recreational activities, and spend time with loved ones. Encouraging moments of relaxation and recreation can prevent burnout, enhance focus during study sessions, and promote overall well-being.


Preparing for the MCAT is never an easy journey. It requires careful planning, lots of research, and consistent hard work. MCAT candidates and their groups of friends and family should do extensive research before stepping on this path. In Jack Westin, we hope this ultimate guide helps you as the first stepping stone and smooth your journey to get to your dream medical school. Remember, you can always reach out to our team of professional advisors for more tailor-made advice. Make sure to check our blog for other free and useful tips. Best of luck!

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