A University of Toronto Medical Student’s Experience Writing the MCAT

I decided to embark on the MCAT journey during the summer after my second year of undergrad. I had just taken biochemistry and organic chemistry courses and felt that I should capitalize on my peak knowledge acquisition in these subjects. I did what most people do and asked around about study tips, professional tutoring companies, and overall experiences. I received a hodgepodge of recommendations that quite frankly, I found difficult to apply to my own situation. Everyone goes into the “MCAT summer” with difference circumstances and they should choose their approach accordingly. It’s not a one-size-fits-all sort of ordeal.

My Approach:

I opted for self-study. I bought the newest edition MCAT books off of Kijiji. Every day after work I grabbed a coffee and hunkered down at the nearest library and read. I watched videos on topics I found confusing and did practice tests when I felt ready. On the weekends I would either study or take a break and head to my family’s cottage. This went on for about 2.5 months until I wrote the test in late July. I knew I didn’t have the stamina to study for the entire summer and I wanted to relax before heading back to school, so I went with an early test date. This method worked for me, but I remember barely seeing friends and family until August. That is the part I regret. If I could do it all over again, I think I wouldn’t have worked during the summer and instead, divided my time between friends/family and studying. 

Approaches and When to Consider Them:

  1. MCAT in-person classes: This is a good option if you are attentive in class, like having other like-minded students around you, and would make use of the trained tutor by asking questions and listening to those of others. However, note that this method is the most expensive.
  2. MCAT online curriculum: This is a good way to stay on track while completing the tasks on your own time. It allows quite a bit of flexibility. It is still “self-study” in a sense and is also costly, but less so than in-person classes. (this was my second-choice method!)
  3. MCAT study group: Chances are, there are lots of other students in your program who are also writing the MCAT. Talk to them! See if you can keep each other on track and help each other through difficult topics. This is a good option if you like studying with friends, but if you’re like me and tend to get easily distracted when your friends are around, this might not be the best idea.
  4. Self-study: If you are a self-directed learner and are confident in your abilities to stay on top of things, this may be for you. As a warning, the study fatigue does set in and it gets progressively harder to stay on track.

As a final word, the MCAT is important and you should try and do well the first time, but it’s also not the end of the world to have to write it again. This is the one test that you get to re-write!

Looking for more MCAT resources? Check out our other MCAT related blog posts:

Top 5 Tips for the MCAT
5 More Tips for the MCAT
Performing Your Best on the MCAT
The MCAT: 5th Time’s a Charm
How to Study for the MCAT