Time Management Tips for the MCAT
Time management can be one of the most daunting issues facing a student who is looking to take the MCAT. It can be difficult to find a pacing that allows you to finish on time, without sacrificing accuracy or comprehension. This difficulty is exacerbated by the breakdown of questions on the MCAT – 52 questions in the Physical Sciences section given 70 minutes, 40 questions in the Verbal Reasoning section given 60 minutes, and 52 questions in the Biological Sciences section given 70 minutes. Consider the following tips below:
1) Take practice exams. Do these exams under timed and proctored conditions, and treat them like they were the real thing. This will help you to learn the rhythm and pacing of the questions, how to better gauge time on the longer and more difficult passages, and how you can pace yourself so that you have a “cushion” of time at the end.
2) Set mental “checkpoints.” For example, there are 52 questions in the Physical Sciences section, to be completed in 70 minutes. This means that you should be done with approximately 26 questions by the time the 35 minute checkpoint rolls around. Remember that some passages will be longer and more difficult than others, so don’t use this as a definite marker, but it can help you to manage your time a little bit more easily than looking at the exam as one big chunk.
3) Try not to stare at the clock. This advice may seem paradoxical, but doing this constantly will only decrease morale and increase anxiety. Develop your own rhythm and instinct for the questions, and let that carry you through the exam.