Every pre-medical student has their own way of learning, preparing, and studying. And for some, study groups are great – that is if you are the type of learner that will reap the benefits from teaming up with another student. During their MCAT prep, many students find that they are able to stay focused, on target, and motivated and they accomplish this by way of a good study partner. Study groups work best when all members of the study group are responsible and hold each other accountable. If study groups have worked for you in the past and you’re seriously considering taking the same route with your MCAT, here are a few tips on how to make the most of your time with your study group or study partner:

Stay on top

Create a study plan. You and your study partner will need to discuss and finalize deadlines for each topic that needs to be covered as part of the MCAT curriculum. Fix a day to meet regularly to review the progress and study material, as well as discuss any problems you have faced. If you struggle with procrastination, your study group will certainly help to overcome this obstacle.

Reinforcement

Aren’t you so confident about you study techniques that you don’t realize other methods could be more effective? Your study partner might be using study techniques that you have never used before. Working with your partner to come up with an “inside joke” or making up words could help you memorize important facts.

Commitment

It is human nature to procrastinate. If you don’t already know, studying with a study partner would actually compel you to sit down and study as planned, assuring you that exam topics are covered as planned. You might actually find that you ended up studying longer, keeping up with the same excitement you started with!

Fun

Studying with another student who has the same goals and dreams of getting into medical school can be comforting. They will make your study time more enjoyable and memorable. Even more exiting is the thought of a study date! You certainly won’t feel conflicted between spending time with your “date” and just missing the company of your friends when you could enjoy your studies with them! Of course, it is important that you pick a study partner or group who shares the same goals as you.

Here are a few tips, carefully selected for your MCAT prep:

  1. Give 3 – 6 months of preparation: This is one big test with a mountain of material to cover. It certainly is not a test where just cramming would suffice. The bright side is – if you choose to prep with a study partner or group, you’ll have a “support group.”
  2. Set aside study time everyday: Set out time everyday to study with your study partner. Treat every study session with your partner or group as an experience. Here’s a tip…make the best use of your time by sticking to the 50/10 rule – 50 minutes study time and 10 minutes break.
  3. Take online practice tests: There could never be a substitute to practice tests! MCAT practice tests are not only useful for understanding the content of the MCAT but also getting comfortable with the format of the MCAT. When you and your study partner/group complete practice tests it should develop your understanding of time, which you’ll need to last through the complete exam.
  4. Tutor subjects covered on MCAT: After figuring out which areas of the MCAT you may need extra help, tutor your study partner (or someone else) to strengthen your knowledge. The ultimate goal is to learn by teaching. You’ll end up sharpening your strengths and strengthening your weaknesses.