Entrance Exam Studying Strategies
There are no tricks or strategies that can substitute for a strong foundation in scientific knowledge. A systematic approach to test prep is the surest route to achieving a competent score. It is best to begin studying several weeks before the test and to choose a block of time every day in which you will review the material. Studying on a daily basis rather than studying inconsistently in large blocks of time will prevent you from becoming overwhelmed and help you to retain the information. Another good way to strengthen your understanding of the material is to become a teaching assistant. Often times, the best way to learn and reinforce information is to teach it to others.
Since professional school applicants typically apply in the summer before senior year, you will want to take the MCAT or appropriate entrance exam in May or June shortly after the end of your junior year. Once the test date begins to approach nearer, you will want to create a more rigorous study schedule, which includes taking practice exams periodically. If you are confident and well-prepared by the end of your junior year, take the exam in May. However, if you are preoccupied with exams, take the extra weeks in May to study and take the exam in June.
Test Prep Courses
If you are willing to purchase your own test prep materials and disciplined enough to commit to a study schedule that you create, you can forgo seeking additional assistance. However, if you feel you are not disciplined enough or you are a poor test-taker, you may want to consider taking a commercial test prep course, such as those offered by Kaplan or Princeton Review. Though expensive, these courses seek to familiarize you with the format and content of the test in a guided, methodical manner that may also help to increase your confidence by the actual test day.