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Post-class Plans: Proven Strategies from Learning Science
Post-class Plans: Proven Strategies from Learning Science

So you’ve finished your MCAT class, now what?

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Written by Blueprint
Updated over a week ago

Preparing for the MCAT can be an intense and demanding process. Many students want the option to redo their modules and module quizzes as they progress through their prep to retest their knowledge.

While this may seem like good practice, Learning Science principles tell us that retaking the same questions over and over isn’t helpful to your retention. If you’re feeling frustrated about not being able to reset your modules, worry not! There are multiple effective and science-backed strategies that can optimize your study sessions and boost your performance. As you’ll see below, you’d probably be more successful by reviewing the topic and then making a targeted qbank quiz.

Embrace Retrieval Practice: Strengthen Your Memory Retrieval

Practice revolves around actively recalling information from memory, which significantly enhances learning. Instead of passively watching the modules again, try to summarize the key points in your own words. Here’s how you can use retrieval practice effectively:

  • Summarize: After finishing a topic, jot down everything you remember without looking at your notes.

  • Teach: Teach the topic to a friend, your dog, or even to yourself in front of a mirror.

  • Flashcards: Create flashcards with questions on one side and answers on the other. Blueprint flashcards have been built for you but you can also build your own with your own takeaways.

Utilize Spaced Repetition: Retain Information Over Time

Spaced repetition involves reviewing material at increasing intervals over time, which helps in long-term retention. Instead of cramming all the information into one session, schedule periodic reviews.

  • Review Schedule: Set specific dates to revisit each topic. This could be a week after your initial study, then two weeks later, and so on.

  • Digital Tools: The Blueprint study plan is built around spaced repetition but you can also add custom assignments to revisit difficult topics.

Practice Interleaving: Mix Up Your Study Topics

Interleaved practice means mixing different but related topics within a study session. This method improves your ability to differentiate between concepts and apply them effectively.

  • Topic Rotation: Instead of studying one subject for an extended period, rotate between multiple topics.

  • Varied Practice: Solve different types of problems in one sitting instead of focusing solely on one type. This could mean switching between biological systems, chemical processes, and CARS questions for the MCAT.

Engage in Active Learning: Move Beyond Passive Review

Active learning techniques require actively engaging with the material rather than passively reading or listening:

  • Mind Maps: Create visual representations that connect different concepts.

  • Group Discussions: Join study groups for collaborative learning. Discussing and debating topics can deepen your understanding. Office Hours are a great place to find folks focused on the same information as you.

  • Practical Application: Try to apply theoretical knowledge to practical scenarios or mock situations relevant to the exam.

Harness Metacognition: Evaluate and Adapt

Metacognition involves being aware of your learning process and adapting strategies accordingly. This means using your LLJ to look for patterns in your mistakes and applying strategies to circumvent those mistakes in the future.

  • Self-Assessment: Regularly quiz yourself or use practice tests to assess what you know and identify gaps. We suggest a full length exam roughly once a week in the later parts of your study plan.

  • Reflective Journal: Keep a journal of what study methods work best for you and which areas need more focus. Does that coffee shop make you distracted? Can you get in the zone at the library?

  • Adapt Strategies: Based on your reflections, adapt your study techniques to what works best for you.

Practical Tips to Enhance Your Study Sessions:

  • Create Custom Quizzes: Use Qbank to design new quizzes based on the topics you’ve studied.

  • Join Study Groups: Discussing material with peers can provide new insights and reinforce your understanding.

  • Utilize Flashcards: Regularly review flashcards to cement key concepts in your memory.

  • Write Concept Maps: Drawing connections between different topics can help in better understanding and recall.

While it may feel limiting to not have the option to redo your modules and quizzes, leveraging these learning science principles can significantly boost your preparation. Implementing strategies like retrieval practice, spaced repetition, interleaved practice, active learning, and metacognition will not only help you retain information more effectively but also enhance your overall performance in the MCAT. Remember, it’s not just about going through the modules again but about how effectively you engage with and internalize the material. Happy studying, and good luck on your exam preparation journey!

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