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Blog / MCAT Retake Strategy How To Improve Your Score The Second Time Around

MCAT Retake Strategy: How to Improve Your Score the Second Time Around

Written by Seza on Aug 24, 2023

MCAT Retake Strategy: How to Improve Your Score the Second Time Around

Picture this: You’ve poured your heart and soul into preparing for the MCAT, only to find your score falling short of your dreams. The disappointment stings, but here’s the silver lining: every great success story includes setbacks that ultimately lead to triumph. 

If you’re a pre-med student who’s faced the challenge of an MCAT score that didn’t meet your expectations, fear not! This is your moment to rewrite your story, elevate your strategies, and blaze a new trail toward medical school success. 

Let’s dive in! 

When and Why Should You Retake the MCAT?

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) stands as a pivotal factor in your journey toward medical school. It’s the stepping stone that often determines whether the doors of medical education swing open for you. Yet, what if your initial attempt doesn’t yield the score you hoped for? Is it worth stepping back onto the testing battlefield for a second round? 

This is the critical juncture where the decision to retake the MCAT demands thoughtful consideration.

Read More: Top three principles for retaking the MCAT 

How to Determine the Right Time to Retake

Timing, they say, is everything. 

The same adage holds true when it comes to retaking the MCAT. As a pre-med student, you’re keenly aware that medical school application deadlines loom like shadowy sentinels on the horizon. Retaking the test could be a strategic move if your MCAT score didn’t align with your aspirations during your first attempt.

Consider this: A suboptimal score on your initial MCAT might dim your chances of securing interviews or even lead to rejections from your dream medical schools. Retaking the MCAT allows you to present a stronger case, showcasing your commitment to improvement and your resilience in the face of setbacks.


Weighing the Why: Reasons for a Retake

The “why” of retaking the MCAT transcends mere numbers. It’s not just about numerical points on a scale; it’s about honing your skills, addressing your weaknesses, and demonstrating growth. 

A retake is a testament to your dedication and willingness to evolve as a prospective medical professional.

1. Aiming for Excellence 

The field of medicine demands excellence. If your initial MCAT score falls short of reflecting your true potential, a retake can help you bring your A-game to the forefront. Your journey to becoming a medical professional demands your utmost dedication; aiming for excellence is a cornerstone of that commitment.


2. Showcasing Improvement 

Medical schools appreciate perseverance. Demonstrating an improved score on your retake underscores your determination to overcome challenges and showcases your commitment to the field. It’s not just about the numbers; it’s about the story your improvement tells, portraying you as someone unafraid to learn and adapt.


3. Shoring Up Weaknesses

The MCAT assesses a wide array of subjects, and it’s common to have strengths and weaknesses across these areas. If you identified specific subjects or sections where you struggled during your first attempt, a retake offers a chance to address and conquer them. Your growth is in the details, and targeting your weaknesses is a key strategy for score improvement.


4. Reflecting Growth 

Your journey to becoming a medical professional is not just about numbers. It’s about personal growth, adaptability, and resilience. A retake illustrates your capacity to learn from setbacks and emerge stronger. Admissions committees recognize the importance of resilience in the medical field, and your retake showcases your ability to face challenges head-on.


5. Boosting Your Application

A solid MCAT score can elevate your application, setting you apart from the sea of candidates vying for coveted spots in medical schools. A retake gives you an opportunity to enhance your overall candidacy. It’s not just about proving your aptitude; it’s about demonstrating your commitment to continuous improvement and your readiness to excel in the rigorous world of medical education.

See Also: MCAT Retake Calculator by Jack Westin


How to Avoid Making the Same Mistakes on Your MCAT Retake 

Embarking on an MCAT retake journey signifies a commitment to growth and excellence. Learning from your previous attempts and mistakes is vital to ensure history doesn’t repeat itself. By thoroughly analyzing your past performance, pinpointing common pitfalls, and devising strategies to overcome weaknesses, you can pave the way to a more successful retake. 

Let’s explore the strategies that help you avoid retracing the same steps and, instead, forge ahead toward mastery.


How to Analyze Your Performance from the First Attempt 


  1. Review MCAT Score Report: Go through your previous MCAT score report in detail. Understand which sections or topics posed challenges and require more attention.

Example: If your chemistry section scores were consistently lower, focus on refining your understanding of chemical principles. 


  1. Question-Level Analysis: Dive into practice questions you struggled with during your first attempt. Dissect why you chose a particular answer and understand the correct reasoning.

Example: If you misinterpreted experimental passages, work on your reading comprehension skills and scientific analysis. 


How to Identify Your Common Pitfalls and Errors

  1. Recognize Recurring Themes: Analyze patterns of mistakes across different sections. Identify whether specific question types or concepts consistently tripped you up.

Example: If you consistently struggled with data interpretation questions, focus on improving your analytical skills. 


  1. Address Time Management: Evaluate whether time constraints affected your performance. Recognize instances where you spent too much time on a single question or section.

Example: Develop strategies to pace yourself better during the exam to ensure you have time for all sections. 

Strategies for Overcoming Weaknesses

  1. Targeted Content Review: Allocate more time to topics or subjects that proved challenging on your first attempt. Strengthen your foundation before delving into advanced concepts.

Example: If organic chemistry poses difficulties, allocate extra study time to grasp fundamental concepts before tackling complex reactions. 


  1. Focused Practice: Concentrate on practice questions related to your weak areas. This reinforces your understanding and helps you apply knowledge effectively.

Example: If your biology knowledge needs improvement, practice answering a variety of biology-related questions to enhance your skills. 


How to Assess Your Time and Resources for A Retake

Embarking on the path to an MCAT retake requires more than just a desire for improvement; it demands a well-orchestrated strategy that considers your most valuable assets—time and resources. As you take on this challenge again, understanding how to effectively assess your time and resources is a crucial step toward achieving your score improvement goals.


1. Gauge Your Commitment and Availability 

Retaking the MCAT demands commitment. Look at your current responsibilities—academic, work-related, and personal. Gauge how much time you can realistically dedicate to your studies without overwhelming yourself. Striking a balance between your commitments and study hours is key to maintaining consistent progress.


2. Evaluate Your Schedule 

Time management is paramount. Consider your weekly schedule and pinpoint the periods when you’re most alert and focused. Allocate study sessions during these optimal times to ensure maximum efficiency. A well-structured timetable prevents burnout and ensures you progress steadily toward your retake preparation.


3. Utilize Diagnostic Tools 

Start by evaluating your initial MCAT performance. Diagnostic tools, such as practice tests or mock exams, can provide valuable insights into your areas of strength and weakness. Identifying topics or question types requiring extra attention will help you tailor your study plan for optimal results.


4. Assess Learning Resources 

Take stock of the resources at your disposal. What materials did you use for your initial preparation, and did they effectively cater to your learning style? Additionally, explore new resources that offer fresh perspectives. Online courses, study guides, and tutoring services can provide targeted assistance tailored to your needs.

To Learn More About the Best MCAT Tutoring Out There, visit Jack Westin Today!


5. Set Realistic Goals 

Define clear, achievable goals for your MCAT retake. These goals could revolve around score improvement targets or mastery of specific subject areas. 


Setting measurable objectives will keep you focused and provide a tangible sense of accomplishment as you progress.


6. Plan for Review and Practice

Effective study isn’t just about absorbing new information but reinforcing what you’ve learned. Allocate time for consistent review and practice sessions. Regular exposure to concepts will help solidify your understanding and boost your confidence as test day approaches.


7. Seek Guidance 

Don’t hesitate to seek guidance from professionals or mentors specializing in MCAT preparation. Reaching out to experienced tutors, educators, or even peers who have successfully retaken the MCAT can provide invaluable insights into effective strategies and study techniques.


8. Factor in Rest and Self-Care

Remember that quality study requires a rested mind. Factor in regular breaks and ensure you’re getting sufficient sleep.  Engaging in physical activity, practicing mindfulness, and maintaining a balanced diet contribute to your overall well-being, enhancing your ability to absorb and retain information.


9. Adapt and Refine

As you progress through your retake preparation, regularly reassess your strategy. If certain study methods or resources aren’t yielding the desired results, don’t hesitate to adjust them. Flexibility and adaptability are key to optimizing your study process.


10. Stay Motivated

Keeping your motivation high during a retake is essential. Set up milestones to celebrate your achievements along the way. Surround yourself with positive influences, and remind yourself of the larger goal—the fulfillment of your medical aspirations. Remember, this journey is not solely about score improvement; it’s a testament to your dedication, perseverance, and ability to navigate challenges on the path to medical school strategically. 

As you embrace this process, you’re shaping your academic future and honing the qualities that will make you an exceptional medical professional. 


Factors to Consider When Deciding to Retake the MCAT

It’s a choice that hinges on carefully considering multiple factors, each holding the potential to shape your journey toward medical school. As you stand at this crossroads, equipped with newfound insights and experiences, understanding the factors that should influence your decision is paramount.

Read More: Should I Retake the MCAT: 4 Ways to Improve Your MCAT Score in a Month


  1. MCAT Score and Admission Goals

Begin by evaluating your initial MCAT score and its alignment with your admission goals. Research the average MCAT scores of the medical schools you aspire to join. This comparison will provide a clearer picture of where you stand and whether retaking the test is necessary to meet your desired thresholds.


2. Improvement Potential 

Assess your potential for improvement. Consider how much time you can realistically allocate for retake preparation and whether this timeframe is conducive to substantial score growth. Factor in your previous study habits, the knowledge you’ve gained since your initial attempt, and the efficiency of your previous preparation methods.


3. Time and Resources 

Retaking the MCAT requires time, effort, and resources. Evaluate your current academic, work, and personal commitments and how they align with the demands of MCAT preparation. Ensure you have access to adequate study resources, support, and potentially professional guidance to optimize your chances of success.


4. Application Timelines 

Consider the timelines of the medical school application cycle. If you’re planning to apply in the upcoming cycle, be mindful of MCAT score release dates and application submission deadlines. Missing these crucial deadlines due to a retake could impact the breadth of schools you can apply to.


5. Score Trending 

Examine your MCAT score trend if you’ve taken the test more than once. Are your scores consistently improving, indicating a positive upward trend? Admissions committees often view an upward trend favorably, as it demonstrates growth and dedication over time.


6. Impact on Application 

Reflect on how a retake might influence your overall application. While improving your MCAT score is valuable, remember that medical school applications encompass a variety of components. Strive for a balance between your MCAT preparation and other aspects, such as your personal statement, letters of recommendation, and extracurricular involvement.


7. Emotional and Mental Preparedness 

Retaking the MCAT can be emotionally challenging, especially if your initial attempt fell short of your expectations. Assess your mental preparedness to embark on this journey again. Develop strategies to manage stress and maintain a positive outlook throughout the retake process.


8. Financial Considerations 

Retaking the MCAT incurs costs—registration fees, study materials, and potentially additional preparation resources. Evaluate your financial capacity to invest in these aspects without jeopardizing other essential commitments.


9. Advice from Experts 

Engage with professionals in the field, such as MCAT tutors, medical school advisors, and peers who have navigated the retake process. Their insights can provide a broader perspective and equip you with guidance specific to your circumstances.


10. Long-Term Goals 

Step back and contemplate your long-term aspirations. How does retaking the MCAT align with your overarching goals in the field of medicine? Consider whether the short-term efforts of retaking the test align with your vision of becoming a proficient and compassionate medical professional.

Armed with a thorough evaluation of these crucial factors, you’re better equipped to make an informed choice—one that aligns with your aspirations, timeline, and unique journey.🌱

Read More: How to Remember More of What You Learned With Spaced Repetition

How Many Times Can You Take The MCAT?

Navigating the path of MCAT preparation requires more than just knowledge—it requires a strategic understanding of the rules and limitations that govern the process. As you embark on this journey, one pertinent question arises: How many times can you take the MCAT? The answer lies in the guidelines set forth by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the organization responsible for the MCAT.

According to the AAMC, examinees can take the MCAT up to three times within a single calendar year and up to four times across two consecutive calendar years. This policy aims to strike a balance between offering individuals multiple chances to demonstrate their readiness and ensuring the integrity of the examination process.

However, it’s essential to recognize that there is an overarching limit to how many times you can take the MCAT throughout your lifetime. The AAMC has set the cap at seven attempts. This cap underscores the significance of MCAT scores as a reflection of an examinee’s preparedness for medical school. Understanding these limitations is the first step in formulating a well-informed strategy for your MCAT preparation and retake plans. Each attempt holds the potential for growth and improvement, making it vital to maximize your opportunities.


When Should You Retake the MCAT? Navigating Timelines and Deadlines 

Retaking the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a strategic decision that requires careful planning and consideration of various factors. Timing is critical in this process, encompassing the score release timeline, medical school application deadlines, and the space you need for preparation. 

As you navigate these temporal intricacies, a well-informed approach can maximize your chances of success.


Understanding the Score Release Timeline

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has set a predictable timeline for releasing official MCAT scores. Typically, these scores are made available to examinees 30 to 35 days after the exam date. For instance, if you sit for the MCAT in May, your score can be expected in late June or early July.

Insightful Analysis: This timeline is pivotal to your retake strategy. It allows you to analyze your performance, assess areas that need improvement, and decide whether a retake is necessary. Your evaluation should encompass the raw score and your performance in specific subject areas and question types.


Aligning with Medical School Application Deadlines

Medical school application deadlines are determined individually by each institution. Consequently, your retake strategy must align with these dates. The most widely recognized application service for medical schools in the United States is the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS).

Strategic Application Timing: For instance, if you plan to apply to medical schools that have application deadlines in the fall, such as many U.S. medical schools, taking the MCAT in the spring or early summer could be advantageous. This timeline allows you to receive your scores before applications open and gives you ample time to craft compelling applications.


Application Submission Deadlines

It’s essential to distinguish between two key application deadlines: the date you must submit your application to AMCAS and the specific deadlines set by medical schools. The AMCAS application submission deadline is set at 11:59 p.m. ET on the designated day. This deadline is non-negotiable, and AMCAS does not grant extensions for any reason.

Precision in Timing: On the other hand, medical schools have unique deadlines for receiving applications. These deadlines may vary, so it’s imperative to research and know the deadlines for each school to which you intend to apply. Meeting these deadlines ensures your application receives the consideration it deserves.


How to Create Your MCAT Retake Timeline

Given the interconnected nature of these timelines, crafting your MCAT retake timeline requires meticulous planning. Here are some actionable steps to consider:


  1. Early Preparation: Begin your preparation well before your desired MCAT retake date. This accounts for unexpected challenges and allows you to pace your studies effectively.
  2. Optimal Retake Window: Aim for an MCAT retake date that aligns with the score release timeline and well before the earliest medical school application deadlines you intend to meet.
  3. Buffer for Improvement: Factor in time after your first attempt to analyze your scores, identify weaknesses, and adjust your study plan before retaking the MCAT.
  4. Application Crafting: Once you have your scores, channel your efforts into crafting compelling applications for medical schools, paying close attention to individual school deadlines.


What Is The Correlation Between MCAT Score And Chances Of Medical School Admission?

In the complex realm of medical school admissions, the role of the MCAT score is a topic of paramount importance. Your MCAT score is a critical indicator of your aptitude and readiness for the rigorous medical education journey. But how significant is the correlation between your MCAT score and your chances of securing a spot in medical school? 

Let’s delve into this correlation and explore the insights provided by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).


The MCAT Score Landscape

The AAMC, as the authoritative body overseeing medical school admissions, holds a treasure trove of data that sheds light on the relationship between MCAT scores and successful matriculation. According to their findings, the average MCAT score for students who matriculated to medical school in the 2021-2022 academic year was 511.91. This benchmark provides a baseline for aspirants aiming to gauge their competitiveness.

Insights from the Average: The average score is a valuable reference point, showcasing the level of achievement that can enhance your application’s appeal to medical schools.


A Glimpse into Success Rates

The AAMC’s data also reveals an intriguing correlation between MCAT scores and progression within the medical school. 

Drawing from 2019 data, a striking pattern emerges: students who scored within the average range—between 510 and 513—achieved an impressive progression rate from their first to the second year of medical school, standing at a remarkable 98%. This underscores the significance of achieving scores within or above the average range.

Aim for the Middle: This pattern underscores the advantage of aiming for scores that position you within or above the average range. It showcases your ability to excel academically and adapt to the rigorous medical curriculum.

However, the numbers remain encouraging even for those who scored slightly lower. Students who entered medical school with MCAT scores between 498 and 501 progressed to their second year at a rate of 94%. This illustrates that while higher MCAT scores offer advantages, they aren’t the sole determinant of success within medical education.


The Combined Power of MCAT and GPA

While the MCAT score holds undeniable importance, the AAMC’s insights extend further.

Notably, the AAMC’s study, “Using MCAT Data in 2022 Medical Student Selection,” revealed that undergraduate grade-point average (GPA) is another key predictor of medical school success. However, the study found that the combination of MCAT scores and undergraduate GPA yielded a more accurate indicator of first-year student performance when evaluating predictors.

📚 Balancing Act: Strive for a balanced approach to your academic journey. Excelling in both MCAT scores and GPA showcases your dedication to both subject mastery and holistic achievement.


Read More: What Are Pre-Med Requirements?

The Evolution of MCAT Impact

It’s crucial to acknowledge that the influence of the MCAT score may evolve over time. A study published in the journal Military Medicine indicates that as medical students progress to become residents, the predictive power of their MCAT scores diminishes. This suggests that while the MCAT is a significant factor in securing admission, it might maintain a different level of impact in the later stages of a medical career.

Long-Term Perspective: Remember that while the MCAT is pivotal in securing admission, it’s just one chapter in your broader medical journey. Your skills, experiences, and clinical abilities become increasingly influential as you progress.


How to Decide If You Should Retake the MCAT: Navigating the Decision Process 

The decision to retake the MCAT demands thoughtful consideration, an analytical approach, and a keen understanding of your personal circumstances. As you contemplate this choice, arm yourself with the right questions, strategies, and insights to ensure your decision aligns with your aspirations and goals.


Questions to Ask Yourself Before Retaking the MCAT

Before delving into the decision-making process, take a moment to reflect on these fundamental questions:


  1. How close is my current MCAT score to my target or the average scores of my desired medical schools? 

   Example: If your current score is significantly below the average scores of your desired medical schools, retaking the MCAT might be worth considering to increase your competitiveness.


  1. Did I encounter unforeseen challenges during my initial attempt that might have affected my performance? 

Example: If personal issues or unforeseen circumstances impacted your performance during the initial attempt, a retake could provide a more accurate representation of your abilities.


  1. How well did my MCAT score align with my practice test scores and study efforts? 📚

Example: If your MCAT score was significantly lower than your practice test scores and study efforts, it could indicate a potential for improvement through a retake.


  1. Have I significantly improved my understanding of the test content and strategies since my last attempt? 

Example: A retake might yield better results if you’ve engaged in targeted preparation and gained a deeper understanding of the test content and strategies.


  1. Do I have enough time to adequately prepare for a retake without compromising other commitments? 

Example: A retake becomes more feasible if you can allocate sufficient time for focused preparation without neglecting other important obligations.


  1. What resources and support systems will I access during my retake preparation? 

Example: Access to quality study resources, MCAT prep courses, tutors, and a support network can significantly enhance your retake preparation.


  1. Am I emotionally and mentally prepared to invest the time and effort required for a retake? 

Example: Emotional and mental readiness are crucial for a successful retake. Assess your determination and commitment before making a decision.


How to Analyze Your Previous MCAT Score

Analyzing your previous MCAT score is an essential starting point. Scrutinize not only the overall score but also the sectional breakdown. Reflect on the specific content areas that posed challenges and those where you excelled. Consider utilizing tools like the AAMC Score Report to gain insights into your performance.

Insights from Data: Dive deep into your score report. Identify patterns in question types, subjects, and topics where you struggled or excelled. This analysis forms the foundation for your retake strategy.


How to Identify Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Identifying your strengths and weaknesses is a pivotal step in preparing for a retake. Revisit your practice tests and review materials to recognize trends in your performance. Pinpoint subjects or question types where you consistently excel and those that require more attention. These insights will guide your study plan and ensure efficient resource allocation.

Focused Targeting: Understanding your strengths allows you to maintain your edge while allocating more time to areas that need improvement. This focused approach optimizes your retake preparation.


How to Set a Realistic Score Improvement Goal

Setting a realistic score improvement goal is crucial to the decision-making process. Your goal should be both aspirational and achievable based on your current strengths and weaknesses. Consider your target medical schools and their average MCAT scores, aiming to position yourself competitively. Factor in the time available for preparation and the effort you’re willing to invest.

Strategic Goal-Setting: Balancing ambition and realism is key. Aim to bridge the gap between your current and target scores, considering the resources and time you can dedicate to preparation.


How to Prepare for Your MCAT Retake

Embarking on an MCAT retake journey presents a fresh opportunity for growth and advancement. Armed with insights from your previous attempt, you’re poised to craft a meticulous preparation strategy that capitalizes on your strengths and addresses your weaknesses.

As you gear up for this transformative experience, equip yourself with the essential strategies to create a tailored study plan, make the most of practice tests, and manage your time effectively.


Read More: How Long Should You Study For An MCAT Retake? 

How to Create a Study Plan Tailored to Your Weaknesses

Crafting a study plan that aligns with your weaknesses is a fundamental pillar of MCAT retake success. Follow these steps to devise a strategy that hones your skills and bridges knowledge gaps:


  1. Diagnostic Analysis: Revisit your previous performance and MCAT score breakdown to pinpoint specific content areas or question types that proved challenging.

Example: If your previous MCAT revealed struggles in organic chemistry, allocate more time to mastering this subject through targeted study materials.


  1. Focused Study: Allocate more time to the subjects and topics where you struggled. Utilize MCAT prep materials that provide in-depth coverage and targeted practice.

Example: If physics concepts pose challenges, dive into dedicated physics resources and practice questions to reinforce your understanding.


  1. Balanced Approach: While addressing weaknesses is crucial, don’t neglect your strengths. Maintain your proficiency in these areas to maximize your overall score.

Example: If you excel in biology, allocate some study time to maintain your proficiency while focusing on other subjects.


  1. Incremental Progression: Divide your study plan into manageable segments, gradually increasing the complexity and depth of your preparation as you progress.

Example: Start with foundational concepts, gradually moving to more advanced topics as your understanding solidifies.


  1. Regular Self-Assessment: Continuously evaluate your progress. Modify your study plan as needed based on improvements or persistent challenges.

Example: Weekly assessments can help you track progress, adapt your study plan, and ensure you’re staying on course.


Read More: 3 Main Stages of an Effective MCAT Study Plan

How to Make Use of Practice Tests Effectively to Improve Your Score

Practice tests are your invaluable allies in MCAT retake preparation. Here’s how to harness their power for score enhancement:


  1. Simulate Test Conditions: Take practice tests under conditions mirroring the actual exam, including time constraints and a quiet environment.

Example: Choose a distraction-free environment and adhere to the test’s time limits to recreate the pressure of the real exam.


  1. Analyze Thoroughly: Review both correct and incorrect answers. Understand the rationale behind each answer choice, reinforcing your understanding.

Example: Reviewing explanations for incorrect answers helps you grasp concepts and avoid similar mistakes in the future.


  1. Identify Patterns: Recognize recurring types of questions or content areas where you consistently make errors. Target these areas during your study sessions.

Example: If you consistently struggle with experimental analysis questions, focus on improving your skills in interpreting graphs and data.


  1. Timed Practice: Practice answering questions within the allotted time to enhance your pacing skills and combat time-related stress.

Example: Set a timer for each practice question to build your ability to manage time effectively during the actual exam.


  1. Progress Tracking: Maintain a log of your scores and performance trends. Observe your growth and identify areas that require further refinement.

Example: Keeping a record of your practice test scores allows you to measure your progress and adjust your study plan accordingly.


How to Manage Your Time During MCAT Preparation

Efficient time management is the cornerstone of successful MCAT retake preparation. Employ these strategies to optimize your study schedule:


  1. Set Realistic Goals: Break down your study plan into daily, weekly, and monthly objectives. Ensure they are attainable and align with your improvement goals.

Example: Instead of trying to cover all subjects in a single day, allocate specific days for each subject to ensure thorough coverage.


  1. Create a Structured Schedule: Allocate specific time slots for each subject, ensuring comprehensive coverage without neglecting any content area.

Example: Designate mornings for physics, afternoons for biology, and evenings for verbal reasoning to maintain focus and variety.


  1. Incorporate Breaks: Regular breaks enhance focus and prevent burnout. Schedule short breaks between study sessions to recharge your mind.

Example: Take a 10-minute break after each study hour to stretch, hydrate, and refresh your mind before resuming.


  1. Pomodoro Technique: Experiment with the Pomodoro technique—25 minutes of focused study followed by a 5-minute break—to maintain productivity.

Example: This technique helps you maintain a balance between intense study and rejuvenating breaks, optimizing your retention.


  1. Flexibility: While consistency is key, remain flexible to accommodate unexpected challenges or additional review needs.

Example: If you struggle with a specific topic, allocate extra time to it without disrupting the overall study plan.


How to Improve Your MCAT Score on Your Retake 

Undertaking an MCAT retake is a determined step toward achieving your desired medical school admission. It’s an opportunity for growth, fine-tuning, and ultimately boosting your score. Elevating your MCAT score requires a thoughtful approach, efficient resource utilization, astute error analysis, and unwavering motivation. Let’s delve into the strategies that pave the way for a remarkable improvement on your MCAT retake.


How to Utilize Resources Efficiently: Unlock Your Learning Potential 

  1. Online Courses: Online MCAT courses, such as those offered by renowned tutors like Jack Westin, provide structured learning paths tailored to your needs. These courses offer comprehensive coverage of MCAT content, practice questions, and strategies.

Example: Engage with modules on challenging topics, participate in live sessions, and access practice materials to strengthen your foundation.


  1. Tutoring and Coaching: Personalized tutoring and coaching provide one-on-one guidance, focusing on your specific weaknesses. Jack Westin’s tutoring, for instance, hones your verbal skills and test-taking strategies. 

Example: Benefit from expert insights, targeted practice, and customized study plans to address your unique areas of improvement.


  1. Practice Resources: Online practice tests and question banks mimic the MCAT format. Allocate time for timed practice sessions to enhance pacing and adapt to the exam’s structure. 

Example: Regularly attempt full-length practice tests to simulate exam conditions and refine your test-taking endurance.


Strategies for Reviewing and Learning from Your Mistakes

  1. Detailed Analysis: Review correct and incorrect answers after completing practice questions and tests. Understand the rationale behind each answer choice. 

Example: If you chose an incorrect answer, comprehend why it was wrong and what the correct approach should have been.


  1. Identify Patterns: Notice recurring mistakes or weak areas. Focus on these patterns during subsequent study sessions. 

Example: If your analysis reveals consistent struggles with experimental passages, dedicate extra time to improve comprehension.


  1. Content Reinforcement: Revisit content associated with your mistakes. Supplement your understanding with additional resources to solidify your knowledge. 

Example: If biochemistry questions trip you up, delve into comprehensive resources to bolster your grasp of the subject.


Tips for Staying Motivated During MCAT Retake Preparation 

  1. Clear Goals: Set specific score improvement goals. Visualize the benefits of achieving these goals to stay motivated throughout your journey. 

Example: Imagine the doors that a higher MCAT score will open in terms of medical school options.


  1. Celebrate Small Wins: Acknowledge and celebrate every milestone achieved, whether it’s mastering a complex concept or improving your practice test scores. 

Example: Treat yourself to a favorite snack or a short break after completing a study session.


  1. Varied Study Techniques: Incorporate different study methods to keep your learning engaging. This prevents monotony and boosts retention. 

Example: Mix flashcards, practice questions, and note-taking for a dynamic study routine.


  1. Peer Support: Connect with fellow MCAT retakers or aspiring medical students. Sharing experiences and progress fosters a sense of community and motivation. 

Example: Join online forums or study groups to exchange insights and encourage one another.

How to Manage Your Stress During Your MCAT Retake 

Preparing for an MCAT retake can be both exhilarating and nerve-wracking. As the exam date draws near, managing stress becomes paramount for optimal performance. Effectively handling stress not only enhances your focus but also fosters a positive mindset. 

Let’s explore strategies to cope with exam-related stress and the pivotal role self-care and relaxation techniques play in your MCAT journey.


Strategies for Coping with Exam-Related Stress: Your Armor Against Anxiety 

  1. Mindful Breathing: Practice deep breathing exercises to activate the body’s relaxation response. Inhale slowly through your nose, hold, and exhale through your mouth. This technique calms your nerves and boosts oxygen flow to the brain.

Example: Take a few minutes before study sessions or practice tests to engage in calming breaths, clearing your mind for focused learning.


  1. Positive Visualization: Envision yourself confidently tackling MCAT questions and scenarios. Visualization helps alleviate anxiety and reinforces a positive self-image.

Example: Before sleep, visualize yourself entering the exam room with a calm demeanor, answering questions with precision and poise.


  1. Time Management: Organize your study schedule with breaks and leisure activities. Allocate specific time for relaxation to prevent burnout and maintain a balanced routine.

Example: Alternate study blocks with short walks, meditation, or even indulging in a favorite hobby to recharge your energy.


Importance of Self-Care and Relaxation Techniques: Nurturing Your Well-Being 

  1. Physical Activity: Engage in regular physical exercise to release endorphins, your body’s natural stress reducers. Movement boosts mood and resilience, whether it’s jogging, yoga, or dancing.

Example: Dedicate mornings to a quick workout routine or unwind with a calming yoga session in the evening.


  1. Nutrition and Hydration: Fuel your body with nutritious foods and stay hydrated. Proper nourishment sustains cognitive function and supports emotional stability.

Example: Incorporate brain-boosting foods like leafy greens, fruits, and nuts into your meals, and carry a water bottle to stay hydrated throughout the day.


  1. Quality Sleep: Prioritize adequate sleep to optimize memory consolidation and concentration. Establish a consistent sleep routine to ensure restful nights.

Example: Create a bedtime ritual, such as reading or listening to soothing music, to signal your body that it’s time to wind down.


  1. Mindfulness and Meditation: Practice mindfulness to cultivate present-moment awareness. Meditation promotes relaxation, reduces stress, and enhances mental clarity.

Example: Dedicate a few minutes each day to mindfulness meditation. Focus on your breath and observe your thoughts without judgment.


How to Stay Motivated During Your MCAT Retake

Embarking on an MCAT retake journey demands unwavering motivation. Sustaining your enthusiasm throughout the preparation phase is crucial for consistent progress and success. By setting achievable goals, seeking support, and celebrating your accomplishments, you can fuel the fire of determination. 

Let’s explore strategies to keep your motivation alive and thriving on your MCAT retake path.


Setting Short-Term & Long-Term Goals: Guiding Lights on Your Journey 

  1. Define Clear Objectives: Establish both short-term and long-term goals. Short-term goals keep you focused daily, while long-term goals provide a sense of purpose and direction.

Example: A short-term goal could be completing a specific chapter of your study material, while a long-term goal might be achieving a particular MCAT score.


  1. Make Goals Attainable: Set realistic goals that challenge you without overwhelming your progress. Achieving smaller milestones boosts confidence and motivation.

Example: Instead of aiming for a perfect score right away, set a goal to consistently improve your practice test scores over time.


  1. Visualize Success: Imagine the sense of accomplishment upon achieving your goals. Visualization enhances your commitment and energizes your efforts.

Example: Close your eyes and picture the moment you receive your desired MCAT score report, feeling pride and fulfillment.


Finding Support and Accountability: Building Your Tribe 

  1. Join Study Groups: Connect with fellow MCAT retakers. Sharing experiences, insights, and challenges create a supportive community that understands your journey.

Example: Participate in online forums or local study groups where you can discuss strategies, ask questions, and offer encouragement. 


  1. Accountability Partner: Team up with a friend or peer who’s also preparing for an exam. Regular check-ins and mutual encouragement foster commitment.

Example: Schedule weekly chats to discuss progress, share study tips, and hold each other accountable for achieving goals. 


  1. Expert Guidance: Seek guidance from experienced mentors or tutors. Professionals like Jack Westin provide valuable insights to enhance your study strategies.

Example: Enroll in mentorship programs or tutoring sessions to gain expert advice on improving study techniques and test-taking strategies. 


Celebrating Milestones: Embracing Triumphs Along the Way 

  1. Acknowledge Small Wins: Celebrate each achievement, no matter how minor. Recognizing progress builds a positive mindset and fuels your motivation.

Example: Treat yourself to a favorite meal or take a leisurely stroll after completing a challenging study session. 


  1. Progress Journaling: Maintain a journal to document your journey. Writing down achievements and reflections reinforces the progress you’ve made.

Example: Jot down daily accomplishments, insights gained, and moments of personal growth to reflect upon later. 


  1. Reward System: Implement a reward system tied to milestones. When you reach specific goals, indulge in a reward that uplifts your spirits.

Example: Promise yourself a movie night or a weekend outing after reaching a particular score improvement benchmark. 


What to Do If You Don’t Improve Your MCAT Score 

Facing the reality of not achieving the desired MCAT score can be disheartening, but it’s crucial to remember that setbacks are stepping stones to success. 

If you find yourself in this situation, it’s time to regroup, reassess, and strategize for your next steps. By exploring your options, considering the holistic aspects of your application, and seeking additional advice, you can chart a new path toward your medical school aspirations. 

Let’s delve into the strategies to help you navigate this challenging phase with resilience and determination.


How To Assess Your Options: Pivoting with Purpose 

  1. Reflect on Your Goals: Take a moment to reevaluate your long-term goals and aspirations. Consider whether your heart is still set on medical school or if there are alternative paths that align with your passions.

Example: If you discover a newfound interest in public health, explore related graduate programs that align with your strengths. 


  1. Review Your Study Approach: Analyze your study strategies and habits. Identify any areas that may need improvement, such as time management, content mastery, or test-taking techniques.

Example: If time management was a challenge, develop a more structured study schedule with dedicated time for practice tests and review. 


Considering Other Aspects of Your Application

  1. Holistic Application Review: Recognize that your MCAT score is just one component of your medical school application. Consider your GPA, extracurricular activities, letters of recommendation, and personal statement.

Example: A strong GPA and compelling personal statement can highlight your dedication to medicine, even if your MCAT score falls short. 


  1. Highlight Strengths: Focus on showcasing your unique strengths and experiences. Emphasize qualities that demonstrate resilience, adaptability, and a commitment to growth.

Example: Highlight experiences where you overcame challenges, displayed leadership, or made a positive impact on your community. 


Seeking Additional Advice and Guidance: Tapping into Expertise 

  1. Consult with Advisors: Reach out to pre-med advisors, mentors, or professionals in the medical field. They can provide insights, guidance, and alternative perspectives on your situation.

Example: Discuss your situation with your pre-med advisor to explore options like post-baccalaureate programs or gap years. 


  1. Consider Professional Help: If needed, consider seeking the guidance of MCAT tutors or admissions consultants. Their expertise can help you pinpoint areas for improvement and refine your application strategy.

Example: Jack Westin’s expert tutors can provide personalized study plans and strategies to help you address weaknesses in your test-taking approach. 



Your MCAT retake journey reflects your unwavering determination and commitment to your medical dreams. This guide has illuminated strategies, insights, and actionable steps that lead to MCAT score improvement and retake success. By assessing strengths, refining study approaches, and learning from past mistakes, you build a roadmap to your desired MCAT score. Each stride you make is part of your story of growth and resilience.

A strategic approach and proper preparation are your allies. Explore the expertise of Jack Westin’s professionals for personalized guidance to shape your MCAT retake strategy and pursue your medical school dreams. The MCAT is more than a test; it’s a stepping stone to your medical journey. The power to improve your score and secure your medical school path lies in your hands. Embrace this journey to create your unique MCAT success story. 

For tailored guidance and expert support in planning your MCAT retake, take action now with a Free Consultation from Jack Westin. Your path to retake success begins today. 

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