Congratulations on your decision to enter into med school! You’ve come a long way and are now one step closer to achieving your dreams of becoming a medical professional. Before you can get into your medical school of choice, you’ll need to take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), which can be pretty daunting if you’re not prepared. Whether you’re going to work with a study buddy, practice with a group of med school hopefuls or study on your own, you’ll need to devise a strategy for success.

That being said, let’s take a look at some study tips that will help you ace the test and hopefully have several medical schools knocking at your door:

Study Tip #1: Consider Working with a Tutor

There is a LOT of information to learn to pass the MCAT and in many cases, two heads can be better than one. If you’ve never been a good studier or simply think you could use the extra help, it might prove beneficial to work with a MCAT tutor. There are service providers, such as Next Step Test Prep, that offer one on one tutoring sessions for med school hopefuls who need a little assistance.

Study Tip #2: Give Yourself Enough Time

Remember when you were a freshman or sophomore in college, and you had those all night cram sessions and somehow managed to ace the test having gotten no sleep the night before? Well, the MCAT is not one of those tests you should procrastinate on studying for. You want to give yourself enough time to review and comprehend the information before going to take the exam. A good rule of thumb would be to start studying at least three months in advance. Try to set a schedule for studying each day and stick to it no matter what other distractions might try to grab your attention.

Study Tip #3: Don’t Go From Memory Use Comprehension Instead

The MCAT is not simply another standardized test that you can memorize information and pass. The test is specifically designed to assess your overall ability to reason and analyze formulae and data critically. You’ll, therefore, want to focus on really understanding the materials as opposed to just trying to remember it to pass the test. Reading comprehension, pulling out key information, utilizing reasoning skills, and selecting the best answer based on critical analysis will be very important.

Study Tip #4: Absolutely No Distractions

Your performance on the MCAT will ultimately shape your future for a while. Therefore, you want to eliminate all distractions when you’re studying. If you need to delegate responsibilities to others or remove certain activities out of your agenda, then that’s what you’ll need to do to hone in on what is necessary at the moment. While you may have responsibilities you can’t avoid, the fewer things you have to do, the better it is.

Study Tip #5: Utilize Practice Tests Often

MCAT practice tests can be a great way for you to evaluate where you are academically in understanding the materials. This will help you to focus in on the subject areas that you’re not as well-versed in so that you can get a better score. Based on the test results, you can adjust your study plan to focus on those subjects more than others. Try taking the practice test a few times before you take the real exam so you know exactly where you are.

Study Tip #6: Use Flash Cards

Flash cards can help you to comprehend key concepts that are necessary to pass the MCAT. Use flash cards to put things like concepts, equations with examples, and other information that you’re having a hard time understanding. You can use flash cards pretty much anywhere you are. This makes studying while commuting, in between classes and even while grabbing a bite to eat a lot easier.

Study Tip #7: Create an Outline

As you read each chapter, creating outlines of what you’ve learned can help you to remember it during the test. Be sure to use various colored flags and highlighters so that you can mark each section/category with an individual color so you can refer to sections quickly.

Study Tip #8: Take Breaks Often

You’re cramming a lot of information into your brain over the next few months, and taking breaks are inevitable. If you start to feel that you can’t focus, or you’ve been studying for several hours without having moved, it’s a good idea to take a break.

Take cautions with breaks when you get closer to test time. Since you won’t be allowed to break from the test when you’d like, you’ll want to practice getting through the test without needing to rest.

Study Tip #9: Process of Elimination

You’ll need to master the process of elimination when answering multiple choice questions on the MCAT. There is a lot of material to cover on the test in a short window of time, therefore you won’t have the time to sift through each option to carefully eliminate them. To save time, you’ll need to learn how to immediately spot the wrong answers so that you can make a more educated guess on the remaining options. If you aren’t sure of an answer, you can always come back later if you have time.

Quick Tip for the Day Before a Test

The day before you go and take your MCAT test many college students find it easier if they don’t study on that day. Having that free day where you’re not thinking about the test can help to ease the anxieties and prepare you for the actual test day. This doesn’t mean you should go out partying, but you can do something relaxing or low key just to let off some steam from all that studying.

Passing the MCAT is a HUGE deal and will ultimately determine what schools are available to you and even what field of medicine you end up practicing. While stressing comes with the territory, if you follow the above advice, you can have a calculated strategy that will ultimately help you to master the test. If you’re still having trouble comprehending certain subjects, remember calling on the experts. This is a good investment that will be integral in helping you succeed.