The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is the one and only entrance exam that hopeful medical students take before they apply to colleges of medicine. Taken by some 86,000 people in 2012, the pool of MCAT test-takers is full of some of the most competitive people in the world.

Now that you know how important the MCAT is, it’s time to brush up on a few pointers before you take the exam.

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You Need to Find Your Baseline Score Before Anything Else

The Medical College Admission Test can last up to seven-and-a-half hours. Although it’s safe to say that nobody is eager to take such a grueling exam, though you do, in fact, need to take a practice exam as soon as possible to determine what your baseline score is.

The most important reasoning behind taking a practice exam to get a baseline score is so that you know what concepts you need to study more than others. Whenever you study, make sure to delegate more time toward the ideas you didn’t understand as well as others.

Analyze Your Problem-Solving Skills for Both Correct and Incorrect Answers

Assume you’re studying for the MCAT by running through practice questions. When grading the last 10 questions you answered, you see that you got them all correct. Time to move on, right? Wrong!

You should always review problems that you gave correct and incorrect answers for. It’s likely that you’ll get a few lucky guesses each time you practice. It’s better to find out that you didn’t know how to solve a problem during a practice session than to make such a discovery while you’re taking the official Medical College Admission Test.

After You’ve Taken Multiple Full-Length, Uninterrupted Practice Exams, It’s Time to Deal with Distractions

Even though the Medical College Admission Test is administered in a controlled environment, you should still prepare for distractions. However, only take on this task after you’ve mastered the concepts of the MCAT and have taken at least three full-length practice tests.

Being able to tough through distractions will help improve your score in the event that various stimuli distracts you while you take the MCAT.

Construct A Study Timeline So You Can Pace Yourself Throughout the Preparatory Process

You could study for the Medical College Admission Test without creating a timeline to hold yourself to, though doing so will invariably result in you missing more consecutive practice days than you’d like to admit. Further, you probably will find yourself with a disproportionate amount of coursework towards the end of your time studying. This comes from not pacing yourself and sticking to the schedule you laid out at the time you first started studying for the MCAT.

The Field Is Very, Very Competitive

The highest score on the MCAT is 528. In 2017, people who scored a 528 on the Medical College Admission Test only placed in the 89th percentile. This means that some 11 percent of the people who took the MCAT in 2017 earned perfect scores. Finding the best MCAT prep course will likely include a customizable schedule to meet your particular needs.

Since the test-taking field is so tough to compete in, start studying far earlier than your peers.