How to prepare for Canadian Medical Exams
Thomson Prometric has done computerization of MCAT. There are numerous testing sites at North America and few spread across Europe, Australia, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Beginning 2007, this computerization has made it possible to have morning and afternoon sessions of exams on weekdays and Saturdays. Test administrations have increased from twice to 22 in a year. The number of questions has been reduced by around one-third and testing time has been reduced by around thirty percent. However, there has been no change in content representation. The scores are also being reported within thirty days instead of sixty days, however, since 2007 only.
Important Aspects of MCAT
The MCAT test consists of four sections in order of administration. These include:
1. Physical Sciences (PS)
2. Verbal Reasoning (VR)
3. Writing Sample (WS)
4. Biological Sciences (BS)
• The exam is offered more than twenty-five times at specified centers. The total duration of the test is around six hours. Some centers offer tests both in the morning and afternoon sessions while some offer only in the morning or in the afternoon.
• Physical sciences, biological sciences, and verbal reasoning sections are in multiple-choice format. You have to answer 77 questions each in physical sciences and biological sciences. You get 100 minutes to answer each of these sections. Verbal reasoning consists of 65 questions to be answered within 85 minutes.
• The writing section consists of two essays. You have to type the essays in your computer. You have to type two essays within 60 minutes. Each essay is to be completed within 30 minutes. You are given separate prompts for each essay.
• Physical sciences section consists of questions related to physics and inorganic chemistry while biological sciences section consists of questions related to biology and organic chemistry. These sections test your problem-solving abilities. The verbal reasoning section evaluates your ability to understand, evaluate, and apply information and arguments presented in prose style. The computerized test offers an optional ten-minute break after verbal reasoning section followed by biological sciences section.
• Two different readers grade each essay of writing section separately. Therefore, the score of your writing section is the culminated score of four individual scores. Essays are graded on a score of 1 to 6 points twice. The scores from both essays are added together and is thereafter converted into a letter scale of J through T. J is the lowest score while T is the highest.
• Scores for all the three multiple-choice sections range from 1 to 15. The numerical scores from each multiple-choice section are added together to give a composite score. Although any score over 30P is competitive, the maximum score is 45T.
• There is no penalty for incorrect multiple-choice answers. It is therefore best to guess answers even if you are unsure rather than leaving them blank. This can help you balance all scores.
• If you are dissatisfied with your performance in the MCAT exam, you can void your exam right on the day of the exam. However, you should decide on whether you want to void your exam right at the test center before leaving the place.
• You cannot take any electronic devices like timers, calculators, cell phones, and others to the examination room.
• You can appear for this exam three times in a year with no lifetime limit. You can register for only one test date at a time. If you want to register for any further date, you should wait for two days after testing for registering for a new test date.
• MCAT exam results are made available to examinees approximately thirty days after the test through AAMC's MCAT Testing History Web application. All scores are transmitted to individual medical schools, application services and other organizations without any extra cost. You do not receive any copy of your score in your e-mail.
Preparation for MCAT - How to Proceed
1. MCAT is a comprehensive test spread over more than six hours. This test analyzes your grasp over basic concepts of physics, chemistry, biology, your reasoning power, and your command over English language. It aptly tests your power of comprehension, content, and problem solving skills. Further, being a timed test, it tests your ability to read, comprehend, and apply knowledge quickly.
2. Before appearing for MCAT, it is best to take up an MOCK MCAT each semester. The American College Testing Program publishes a handbook, the MCAT Student Manual. The registration packet for MCAT normally includes an order form for this Manual. Alternatively, you can request it by writing and procure it.
3. Study the Manual thoroughly for a complete preparation. The entire MCAT examination is knowledge-based and does not depend on your personal IQ or aptitude. You should be fully thorough with your entire course of all subjects like Physics 1,2, General Biology 1,2, Chemistry 1,2, and Organic Chemistry 1,2,.
4. The ideal start of preparation should be six months before the date of your exam. Starting too early could cause you to burn out before your exam. Obviously, starting too late or little late could pose problems in complete revision of the course. You should allocate two to three hours each day specifically for MCAT preparation.
5. The ideal technique of preparation is to assess your grasp and thoroughness of each subject like biology, physics, and chemistry. Accordingly, start preparation with your weakest subject so that you can devote sufficient and substantial time to get a full control over the subject.
6. Start each study session by over-viewing your study material. Study for around two hours at a stretch to complete something concrete. You can choose to study in any way you feel comfortable like using flash cards or studying by outlining of chapters and sections. Complete each session by having a mental overview of what you studied in that session.
7. Wait for three days to test yourself on what you have studied. If you want to test your long-term retention capabilities, test after a week.
8. Aim for a minimum of 70% in each section of physical and biological sciences. This would then deliver an average overall score of 10 in these two sections. Preparation for verbal reasoning section is little different. You have to prepare on similar lines like that for GRE, SAT, LSAT, and others.
9. Solve and resolve as many sample and test papers as possible. These papers not only evaluate and test your knowledge; they also help you answer within prescribed time limits and you can better on your scores and time limits.