MCAT Timing Strategies from 90+ Percentile MCAT Scorers
As a pre-med student, the MCAT exam is one of the most important tests you will take on your journey to medical school. Scoring well on the MCAT requires knowledge and understanding of the material and strategic timing skills. Proper timing strategies can significantly impact your performance on test day. In this article, we will share with you some of the most effective MCAT timing strategies from 90+ percentile MCAT scorers.
Test-Taking Strategies for MCAT
Effective time management is a crucial factor when it comes to test-taking, and it is essential to have a set of strategies in place that can help you manage your time efficiently. However, before exploring specific timing strategies, it is crucial to review some fundamental test-taking strategies that can aid in managing your time effectively.
- Read the instructions carefully: One of the most critical strategies is to read and understand the instructions carefully. Test-takers often overlook this strategy, leading to costly mistakes or time-consuming errors. Taking the time to read and understand the instructions for each test section can help you avoid any unnecessary mistakes and save time in the long run.
- Don’t waste time on difficult questions: It is common to encounter challenging questions while taking a test, and spending too much time on them can be tempting. However, it is crucial to remember that each question is worth the same number of points, and spending too much time on a difficult question can cause you to miss out on other easier questions that you could answer correctly. It is always a good idea to move on to the next question and return to the difficult one later if time permits.
- Keep track of time: It is important to know how much time you have left for each section and ensure that you pace yourself accordingly. You can use a watch or a timer to help you stay on track and ensure you do not run out of time.
- Use scratch paper: The scratch paper provided by the test center can be used to jot down notes or do calculations, helping you keep your thoughts organized and save time on mental math. This can be particularly helpful for tests that require a lot of calculations, such as math or science tests.
MCAT Time Extenders
Managing time effectively during the MCAT exam can be challenging, and it is essential to have strategies in place that can help you gain extra time during the test. These strategies are known as time extenders, and they can significantly impact your performance during the exam.
- Take breaks: One of the most effective time extender strategies is to take breaks. The MCAT exam is long and intense; you will have several breaks throughout the day. Taking advantage of these breaks is crucial to rest, eat, and re-energize yourself. This can help you stay focused and alert during the exam and prevent burnout or exhaustion.
- Skip the tutorial: If you are already familiar with the test format, you can save time by skipping this section. This will give you extra time to review and answer the test questions, which can significantly impact your performance during the exam.
- Use the highlight function: The MCAT exam includes a highlight function that can be used to mark important information in the test questions. This can help you save time by making it easier to locate the relevant information. By highlighting essential information in the questions, you can quickly and efficiently identify the answers, saving you valuable time.
MCAT Time Reductions
Time is crucial during any test, and the MCAT exam is no exception. Time reductions are strategies that can help you complete the test faster and more efficiently. Incorporating these strategies into your test-taking approach can help you achieve better results and perform at your best.
- Use the process of elimination: One of the most effective time reduction strategies is to use the process of elimination. This strategy involves quickly eliminating incorrect answer choices, which can help you narrow down the correct answer faster. By using the process of elimination, you can save valuable time during the test and increase your chances of selecting the correct answer.
- Skim the passages: When encountering a lengthy passage, it can be tempting to read every word carefully. However, this approach can be time-consuming and can hinder your ability to answer questions efficiently. Instead, skim the passages to get a general idea of the content, which can help you save time by avoiding unnecessary reading.
- Answer easier questions first: By answering easier questions first, you can build momentum and avoid getting stuck on difficult questions. This approach can help you move quickly through the test and maximize your available time.
- Don’t second-guess yourself: Trusting your initial instinct when answering questions can help you save valuable time and prevent you from overthinking. By avoiding the temptation to second-guess yourself, you can answer questions more quickly and confidently, ultimately improving your performance during the test.
MCAT Test Section Timing
Each section of the MCAT exam has a specific time limit. Here are some section-specific timing strategies to consider:
- Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems: This section has 59 questions and 95 minutes. This equates to approximately 1 minute and 36 seconds per question. Use the process of elimination to save time on calculations.
- Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills: This section has 53 questions and 90 minutes. This equates to approximately 1 minute and 42 seconds per question. Use the highlight function and skim the passages to save time on reading.
- Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Systems: This section has 59 questions and 95 minutes. This equates to approximately 1 minute and 36 seconds per question. Don’t spend too much time memorizing minor details.
- Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior: This section has 59 questions and 95 minutes. This equates to approximately 1 minute and 36 seconds per question. Use the highlight function and answer easier questions first to gain confidence and save time.
MCAT Question Timing
Timing strategies for individual questions can be just as important as section-specific timing strategies. By incorporating these strategies into your test-taking approach, you can maximize your time during the MCAT exam and achieve better results.
- Flag difficult questions: If you encounter a difficult question, it’s important to flag it and move on to the next question. Spending too much time on one question can be a common mistake many test-takers make, ultimately hurting their overall performance. By flagging difficult questions, you can return to them later when you have more time, allowing you to answer more questions efficiently.
- Don’t spend too much time on one question: It’s crucial to be mindful of your time management during the test and not waste valuable time on one question when you could be answering multiple easier questions in the same amount of time. By avoiding this common mistake, you can maximize your overall performance during the test.
- Pace yourself: It’s essential to balance answering questions accurately and efficiently while ensuring you have enough time to complete the test. By pacing yourself, you can avoid rushing through questions or spending too much time on any one question, which can help you manage your time more effectively.
MCAT Exam Preparation
One important factor in MCAT timing is exam preparation. It’s about understanding the material and developing strategies to help you manage your time during the exam. Here are some tips that can help you with your MCAT exam preparation:
- Practice with timed sections: practicing with timed sections is a must. By doing so, you can get accustomed to the time limits of each section and develop effective strategies to manage your time better. It’s also important to simulate test conditions during practice sessions. This helps you become more comfortable with the test-taking environment and reduces test anxiety.
- Simulate test conditions: Simulating test conditions during practice sessions is also crucial. This includes using the same format and timing as the actual MCAT exam. Simulating test conditions helps test takers become more comfortable with the test-taking environment and reduces test anxiety.
- Analyze practice test results: Analyzing practice test results is also crucial to MCAT exam preparation. By reviewing your practice test results, you can identify areas where you need to focus your studying and develop strategies to manage your time more effectively. Developing a study plan that includes time for content review and practice exams is another effective strategy. This ensures that you cover all the necessary material and build your test-taking skills over time.
- Develop a study plan: To prepare for the MCAT effectively, test takers should develop a study plan that includes time for content review and practice exams. By developing a study plan, test takers can ensure they cover all the necessary material and build their test-taking skills over time.
- Focus on High-Yield Topics: When studying, focus on high-yield topics most likely to be tested. Knowing everything is impossible, so it’s important to use your time more effectively and not waste time studying material that’s less likely to appear on the exam. Additionally, learning to prioritize is key. Know which questions to answer first and which ones to leave for later. One effective strategy is to first answer the questions you know you can answer quickly and accurately. This will help you build momentum and save time for more difficult questions later.
- Learn to Prioritize: In addition to focusing on high-yield topics, you’ll also need to learn to prioritize. This means knowing which questions to answer first and which ones to leave for later. One effective strategy is to first answer the questions you know you can answer quickly and accurately. This will help you build momentum and save time for more difficult questions later.
In conclusion, proper timing strategies can significantly affect your performance on the MCAT exam. Use these strategies to your advantage, and don’t be afraid to experiment with different techniques to find what works best for you. Remember to read the instructions carefully, keep track of time, and use scratch paper to help you stay organized. Use time extender strategies to gain extra time and time reduction strategies to complete the test faster. Consider section-specific timing strategies and question timing strategies to help you manage your time effectively. With the right timing strategies, you can ace the MCAT exam and take the next step toward your dream of becoming a doctor.
You can always contact Jack Westin’s team of academic consultants for more tailor-made advice during your MCAT prep journey. Make sure to check out our website for affordable MCAT online courses, tutoring options, free weekly sessions, practice questions, and more!