Effective Note Taking for the MCAT
That's right, effectively studying for the MCAT requires more than just reading through pages and pages of review books. Like every other important exam you have taken, acing the MCAT will require that you study actively. This means that you must adapt your study habits according to your character, circumstances, and your ability to cope with multiple priorities.
Perhaps you prefer to compile notes on every topic in order to feel confident that you have everything covered. If so, you can save time by developing your own abbreviation systems, acronyms, or mnemonics thereby increasing your understanding of important topics and making those topics easier to memorize (for example, have a look at our Free MCAT Biochemistry summary and mnemonics). With this technique, you should always leave space to add comments or additional notes during future study sessions. Furthermore, keep in mind that studying actively does not mean taking notes just to take them. On the contrary, those MCAT notes will only help you if you take the time to study them.
Now, some premed students may consider it a waste of time to take notes and that is fine because you know best what kind of learner you are. If that is the case, then studying actively for you may mean reviewing flashcards (Science review apps for iPhone and Android) You can even create your own or see others using ANKI MCAT! Here are some tips:
1) Gather only the most important points or equations/formulas on a specific topic. Write down each point or equation on a notecard or post-it.
2) Search your prefered mobile device's app store or the internet for free and convenient note-taking apps with customizable features. This will allow you to store your flashcards in a digital format.
3) Convert textbook content or general notes into summary notes and review your summary notes from the start every weekend.
4) Consider multimedia: for example, you can read your summary notes into a smartphone MP3 app and then listen daily when you are engaging in physical activity or using transportation, etc.
Remember, learning the techniques of effective note-taking is easy, but actually applying them takes a lot of motivation and self-discipline. So, assess exactly what you would like to achieve from your MCAT studying and how willing you are to work for that excellent MCAT score.