How to Set Up Your MCAT Study Environment
MCAT Study Environment
MCAT Testing Pad
Clear Desk Space
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An organized space reflects an organized mind.
The key to acing the MCAT is
filing concepts so they become readily available.
Do the same with your tools.
Starting by changing your space into an MCAT study environment
is a monumental first step
signaling you now have a serious attitude
about the test.
Oftentimes, placing the laptop
on the stand can mean serious business:
TIME FOR MCAT.
An elevated laptop is also great for posture.
If you have back pain,
I use and recommend this butt pillow.
From day one,
you should start simulating
the Test Day environment.
This means you only bring your clothed self
and brain to a cubicle
with a windows desktop,
noise isolators, a mouse,
and a wet erase testing board + marker.
No pencils nor scratch paper.
But a ton of keyboard shortcuts!
Walk into test day feeling like an alien.
Treat scrap work like trash:
learning from it is a key to a higher score.
Separate “Reference Creation Mode”
from “Test Simulation Mode”
This probably seems like overkill.
Most flash cards people make are wasted.
Instead, accept humility
and make sticky notes.
Trash 95% and laminate (‘eternalize’)
the top 5%.
(It’s how your brain works, anyways.)
It will be one of the best study tactics
you may ever adopt.
Besides, laminators are cool
and shockingly affordable.
If you want to regain the
sticky nature, add painter’s tape
to the back of the laminated version.
Create a hierarchy that values
the concepts you least remember.
Use your environment to peg the sticky note!
Keep each note simple!
It is easy to interrupt a loved
one unintentionally. That is why taking time
to forge study perimeter signs is so important!
People need physical reminders.
Making a sign that strongly
and lovingly reminds others what is at stake
will save your relationships and free up
detrimental stress from studying.
Use sticky notes and sharpies.
Or large pieces of paper.
Laminate the signs and tape them
to any adjacent door or room.
Use red: it’s the most noticeable color.
“Career at stake, prayers appreciated”
is a terrific way to communicate
what you are up to.
Make a “Testing” and “Studying” note.
These notes are also great
Noise is the fastest sense to be processed.
That’s awesome to know in
When it comes to studying,
however, it also makes it your
greatest potential distractor.
They’re expensive, but – in my opinion –
one of the greatest study tools invented.
Noise. Cancelling. Headphones.
Even just having one’s ears covered is another
loving reminder to others you need concentration.
Compromise on noise: it will cost you
more in the long term
Consider the long-term consequences
noise might have and the long-term benefits
blocking noise might have.
Sadly, all the information in our
Amino Acid book, or in the AAMC Official
Guide, or in the Kaplan Content Review is
not yet engrained in your head. Having
all you need to ace the MCAT
within physical reach increases
your locus of control: come Test Day – the
habit of a physical reference will translate
*Stow material out of reach.
*Only do content review.
*Attempt to read
every Kaplan page.
*Spot clean your knowledge
*Rely on AAMC practice questions
as the primary indicator of
⑧ REPLACE foods
Food is one of the quickest
means to destabilize
or stabilize emotions:
Not only does it fuel your body
but also provides a natural source
of rewards. Swapping glucogenic foods
for ketogenic foods will not only help
avoid stress-eating and crashing:
it will enliven the material you are studying.
Let’s face it: this likely means phone
or laptop. We are too weak to overcome
temptation alone. We need to flee from it.
Set strict app timers: make a list
of refreshing activities to do when
overwhelmed. Exercise and take walks
often. Limit phone use to less than 2 hours,
then 1 hour, and shorter daily.
*Neglect your family’s feelings with
your phone detoxification excercise:
have an email/message bounce-back
or voicemail where you say. “I apologize
for not picking up right now. I am
currently preparing for the MCAT.
Thank you for understanding.
If this is an emergency please
ring again, and I will attempt to
Friends and family can either be
your greatest support of greatest downfall:
This is largely up to you!
Properly communicate the consequences of
a bad MCAT score on your career.
State the importance of silence: that it will
take a little while for you to gain structure
but things may get more intensive as
study time progresses.
Do plan time with them in advance: but be
aknowledging their love for you.
*Underplay the importance of no
*Act as if you are cutting them out
*Communicate facts over feelings:
EX1: the consequences
a bad score might have on your career
EX2: the likelihood of increased silence from
EX3: dates for practice exams (changeable)
and your official test date
EX4: the financial toll: supplies, exam cost,
hotel room (if out-of-state), AAMC materials.
Accountability is actually a
make-it-or-break it factor.
Humans – alone – are terrible
at keeping tasks in check.
Sharing a calendar and anticipating
the inevitable “how did you do?”
may sound horrible, but it is
absolutely necessary! Unless you
have extremely toxic relations,
you won’t regret it!
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