One of the biggest challenges of learning medicine is the sheer amount of information students are expected to process and understand. By the time most students take the USMLE Step 1 exam, they will have attempted to memorize the contents of huge books like First Aid—an 800-page behemoth of high-yield pathology—as well as endless information from their course slides and other lecture notes.
As essential as it is to know the pathophysiology of various diseases and the pharmacological and surgical interventions used to treat them, it is also necessary to understand the social and psychological aspects of illness in order to effectively treat patients. Physicians must situate their treatments within psychosocial parameters that best serve the individual patient, asking questions like, “What will motivate this patient to take his medication as prescribed?” and “How do the social supports of this single parent influence his or her ability to get his/her child to well-visits with the pediatrician?”
Studying for the MCAT exam can be daunting, and chances are, you’ve typed “How do I study for the MCAT exam?” or “What’s the best way to prepare for the MCAT exam?” into your search engine. You may have even wondered how long you should spend studying.
Whether you are about to begin studying or are currently in the process, it’s likely you are still looking for guidance about where to start or where to find the best review strategy, or whether you are on the right track with your preparation. To find these answers, you may have searched the web, skimmed online forums, and consulted with friends or family, likely uncovering hundreds of different results, advice, and opinions that can leave your head spinning.
The first key to success on the boards is using practice questions to develop your “hunch reflex.” If you’re a second year medical student, “kinda-sorta” thinking about a certain test you’ll have to take in about six months, and you haven’t already begun using USMLE/COMLEX-style practice questions in your study, you should start now. Even if you’re just half way through first year, start incorporating the following advice into your study plan: questions, questions, questions!
The Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) is one of the most well-known entrance exams in all of higher education. It is known for many things: difficulty, length, bizarre scoring systems, and the breadth of subjects covered – everything from basic human psychology to nucleophilic substitution reactions to electrical circuits to the life cycle of plants are fair game on this test. The test is designed to look for several basic abilities and aptitudes of medical school applicants; among these are problem-solving skills, basic grasp of scientific knowledge, and understanding of human relationships. One aptitude that the MCAT particularly focuses on is the ability to quickly synthesize large amounts of information and data and make decisions based on the conclusions; this skill is extremely valuable for physicians in medical practice, but also important for students to succeed in medical school. This skill is tested on each section of the MCAT, but is also almost the sole skill tested on one section in particular: Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS), formerly known as Verbal Reasoning.
The MCAT is a major hurdle for many medical school applicants. The exam can be … Read more