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Mastering Section I of the MCAT

by | Jan 6, 2023 | MCAT Sections and exam tips

From: MCAT Prime

Chemical and physical foundations of biological systems

1. Prepare effective study notes

Use the MCAT Section I topic list to determine what to study for this section. The MCAT Prime general chemistry and physics books cover the entire syllabus required for Section I of the MCAT. You can use the book chapters as a guide to get an idea of the topics and then come up with a single sided A4 paper summary notes for each chapter. The important aspects of writing concise and effective notes is to ensure that they cover ALL the topics, that will enhance your chances of success in the exam. Another important factor to consider is to ensure you’re not rewriting what you read. The best way to avoid repetition is to either use dot points, diagrams, mind-maps, flow charts or tables.

2. Memorise the assume basic general knowledge prior to making notes

Knowledge is a necessity in the MCAT as the exam requires a higher level of thinking, application of knowledge and the use of cognitive interpretation and reasoning within the context of the exam to answer questions. Memorising basic knowledge or concepts pointed out in each of the MCAT preparation materials increases your efficiency and chances of succeeding in the exam. The best technique we suggest to memorise concepts for the exam is what is known as “retrieval practice”. It is a very effective method of locking information into your memory and also assists in finding the blanks in your memory as well as strengthening your cognitive and reasoning skills.

Here’s how you can use this technique to your advantage. Grab a blank A4 paper and scribble down what you remember about a given concept of interest. Once completed, go back to the MCAT Prime book and determine the missing information. The missing information can then be added to the same page using a different colour. The missing information can then be drawn as a mind map or chart to be used as study notes.

3. Do as many practice questions as you possibly can

While knowledge is a necessity, the ability to apply knowledge and use cognitive interpretation and reasoning within the context of the exam is a skill that can only be acquired through practice. You need to complete practice questions under exam conditions. What our experts have found after years of studying and speaking to students who have failed the MCAT 2 or 3 times is that they lacked enough practice under exam conditions. Being as efficient as possible is what differentiates a person who succeeds in the MCAT and one who fails.

To help optimise your study routine, this website also has a study scheduler that you can either use as is or modify to suit your specific study goals.

4. Use your mistakes as a guide to improve

It is not the mistake that matters; it’s what you do with it. If you get a question wrong, do NOT skim over the question and correct answer – go back to it and identify what went wrong. Think about how you could have approached it differently and where the opportunity for improvement lies. Try to do a similar question at a later date and repeat until you’re confident that you have a different strategy to tackle similar questions.

5. Drink plenty of water

Ensure you take your water bottle with you and try and drink some water every 30 minutes or so. Staying well hydrated is crucial for the brain to work optimally.

MCAT Prime is a company that cares about your success in taking your first steps into the medical field. We know how daunting it can be to prepare for the MCAT, and we’ve got you covered! We provide high quality online resources that will give you the knowledge and skills you need to ace the exam. Our website contains many study packages, practice questions and a study scheduler to test your scientific knowledge, comprehension skills and required cognitive abilities.