Running out of steam is a common problem for students taking the new MCAT. It comes at no surprise since the test is now 7.5 hours long (with two 10 minute breaks and one 30 minute lunch break). Staying focused is essential to your success. One correctly answered question can make a point difference, and therefore, each question requires your outermost attention.
The sections of MCAT are always given in the same order: Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems, CARS, Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems, and Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior. Biological section comes right after the lunch break and Psychological is given last. These last 2 sections will be the hardest to focus on and comprehend.
To help your attention span last the whole duration of MCAT, follow these guidelines:
1. Take at least 4 full practice tests und
er real testing conditions. This means that your tests must be timed, with correct 10-minute breaks as well as a lunch break. Start your tests at 8 am since this is the approximate time real MCAT will be given. Take your practice tests in a quite room with no distractions. Taking these tests will allow you to increase your stamina before the big day.
2. Eat healthy snacks to sustain your energy levels throughout the whole test.
Nutrition is critical to retaining your energy during this arduous test. Food comprised of carbohydrates and proteins will help you stay focused and energized. Granola bars, nuts, bananas, and apples with peanut butter are all great and easy snacks. For lunch, a turkey sandwich or another sandwich with a source of protein and vegetables is a great choice. Make sure to also stay hydrated by drinking water. Chocolate and other sweets might be ok in small portions. However, having too many sweets might make you crash before the test is finished.
3. Relax during the breaks.
Our attention span is much less then 7.5 hours. Therefore, we need to let our brain rest during the breaks. Distract yourself, and don’t think too much about the test. Just rest and get reenergized.
4. Get a good night sleep before the test day.
Make sure to go to sleep at a decent time such as 10pm. Sleep is extremely important for being focused for 7.5 hours the next day. Do not cram; you can review your notes in the morning before the test.
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