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Alumni Advice

Here is some advice by subject from post-bacs that have gone ahead of you:


  • Do not over-rely on the equations sheet. It does not solve problems for you and you will need to know them for the MCAT.

  • Practice problems are your best bet- do as many as you can!

  • Some find reading and summarizing the chapters helpful: noting key figures, key equations, and how everything fits together.

  • Khan Academy can be really helpful for those who are auditory/visual learners.

  •  Do not spend too much time on lab. It is easy to fall into this trap, but it is not an efficient use of your time. Be prepared with pre-lab assignments and utilize office hours to get an idea of what you “should” observe in lab. Review key equations before lab as well.



  • Take detailed notes while reading the textbook and complete the pre-class reading assignments. They are designed to catch those who skim the reading, so don’t fall behind on the rest of the information once you have found the answers.

  • Record the lectures: most of the exams will focus on the lecture material. You can also review the fall lectures as you prepare for the MCAT.

  • Redo Mastering Biology problems before biology tests. The questions on the tests will be very similar.

  •  Group studying proved to be very helpful- prepare your own study guides and quiz one another before exams.

  •  Draw pictures of processes and structures.

  • Pay close attention to pre-lab readings, pre-lab lectures, and lab procedures. Professor Kittlesen can and will test you on very specific items!


Organic Chemistry

  • Complete suggested problems and review reactions from each chapter as you go along.

  • Print out class notes and chapter slides in advance so you can draw all of the structures that you learn.

  •  Do your best work on lab reports, following the rubric and examples carefully.  Your grades will not be perfect, but talking with TAs and paying attention to details (naming figures, etc.) can boost you a little.

  • Don’t fall behind, especially in the spring. You won’t have spare time to catch up.



  • This is controversial, but we have found that it is more fruitful to read after lecture as opposed to before.

  • Rewrite your notes as a synthesis of lecture, reading, and slides.  His lectures are brilliant, but often fast and skim over some material.  Supplementing with the book and not wasting time attempting to copy every spare word from the slides (knowing you’ll return to them later) can help you maximize your learning and retention.

  • Do the practice problems. Over and over and over.

  • As you are studying, think about what is high-yield and try to come up with questions that you think he might ask. This gets you in the test writing frame-of-mind.

  • Don’t try to memorize the textbook.  Identify what key structures and numbers do need to be memorized perfectly.  You will not learn all the details, and grades will be okay.  Focus on what is “testable.”

  • You will not get a perfect score on these tests. You will be frustrated by the way they are graded. It’s just a number! Trust the system! It will work out.

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