How I Tackled the NEW MCAT [PART TWO]
How I Tackled the NEW MCAT
By Sean Treacy-Abarca
PART 2: Khan Academy — the Secret Weapon?
AMCAS has released a number of resources for students to use in preparation for the MCAT going forward and I would like to touch on two main resources I used in my preparation. The first is a wonderful non-profit organization called Khan Academy. Sal Khan, creator of Khan Academy started the organization years ago and it has evolved into a worldwide platform for community learning now having a specific program for MCAT preparation. Two years ago before the new MCAT was released the AAMC partnered with Kahn Academy and had a nationwide contest to seek out the best and brightest educators to create new content to prepare students for the new MCAT. These students, professors, nurses, and physicians were selected by their ability to clearly and succinctly present complex concepts appearing on the new MCAT. With hundreds of hours of video content, MCAT preparation with Kahn Academy is a wonderful resource and is the only organization with a direct partnership with the AAMC. In addition to hundreds of hours of video content, the massive compilation of 900+ sample MCAT questions makes integration and reinforcement of the knowledge practical; did I mention that all of this is FREE of COST?? Moving forward Kahn Academy intends to improve and evolve the program to improve its effectiveness. I personally enjoyed Khan Academy and think that it will be a wonderful resource for students, but another resource that I encourage students to take advantage of is the AAMC’s guideline/outline for the new MCAT. I’ll provide a link below for all of the resources I mention here.
Kahn Academy: https://www.khanacademy.org/test-prep/mcat
MCAT 2015 Outline: https://www.aamc.org/students/download/377882/data/mcat2015-content.pdf
The official MCAT guideline is a FREE online resource, downloadable as a PDF file. In this PDF lies a very clear content outline of every topic that will potentially appear on the new MCAT. The MCAT will now consist of four sections:
1. Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
2. Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
3. Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
4. Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills.
In each of these four sections will be a set of “Foundational Concepts” with a series of subtopics falling under each foundational concept. Now one of the most useful components of this outline is that it not only lists each individual topic in a foundational concept, but also weights the importance of each foundational concept for us. Here’s an example:
In the first section — Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems — the outline tells us there are 3 foundational concepts; but, they are not all equally weighted! Concept #1 in this first section accounts for approximately 55% of the test content for the whole section! While not ignoring the other sections, this makes it easy to balance and manage time more effectively. So for instance it would not be wise to spend 75% of your time on a foundational concept that accounts for 10% of the entire section.
This outline is a great resource to highlight problem areas too. On each topic under a foundational concept practice laying out everything you know about a topic, identify topics that are fuzzy and go back and spend more time on those topics.
Coming Next — Part 3: Time – Finding a Balance, and Using it to Your Advantage