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Barron’s LSAT and MCAT Author Jay Cutts Tips-May Session

Your Expert Guide to Self-Preparation For LSAT, GRE, GMAT, MCAT, and PCAT

By Jay Cutts

Lead Author, Barron’s LSAT and MCAT Prep


                                                REMEMBER: The 3 Keys to Self-Prep Success:

  • A well-planned study schedule
  • High quality prep materials
  • Peer support

If you’re still not doing well enough, look for a qualified tutor.

 THIS MONTH: Let’s take a quick look at where things stand for you.


As finals approach, you obviously won’t have much time for test prep this month. Be prepared to jump into full time prep when the semester is over. Leave your summer schedule as free as possible. This summer is not the time for travel, internships, or volunteering. It is the time for test prep and the application.

LSAT: Ditto.

GRE/GMAT: Ditto.


This month we’ll start talking about science for the MCAT and PCAT. While you do need to know lots of science information – and should be doing ongoing science review – the MCAT in particular is more interested in scientific problem solving than in strict memorization. In fact most students can get to the score they need simply by perfecting problem-solving strategies, along with other testing and timing strategies.

On the PCAT scientific problem solving is also important but the PCAT is more fact oriented than the MCAT. By working on MCAT problems, PCAT students can challenge themselves to become better problem solvers.

If you look carefully at MCAT science problems, you can see that they are often testing skills such as graph interpretation, logic, experimental design, and even simple reading comprehension. The passages often give you all the information that you need to get to the right answer.

computer-1149148_1920When you miss a science question, go back and analyze carefully what happened. Did you understand the question stem correctly? Did the question require science knowledge that you didn’t have or did you fall down on problem solving?

When I review the questions that a beginning student got wrong, I have them evaluate how many errors were due to lack of science and how many were due to strategy. Most students say that about half their errors were due to strategy. In other words they knew enough science but “messed up.” That’s a lot of extra points to earn back by mastering strategy. On the other half of the questions – the ones for which they thought they didn’t know enough – it usually turns out that half of those could have been solved with good strategy as well!

In the Barron’s MCAT book I thoroughly explain strategy for timing, test taking and problem solving. PCAT takers will get a lot out of that book as well. Next month, we’ll talk more about some advanced tools for scientific problem solving on the MCAT and PCAT.

Jay Cutts is the director of the Cutts Graduate Reviews and lead author of the Barron’s LSAT Prep Book, Barron’s MCAT Prep Book, and Barron’s MCAT Flash Cards. He has helped thousands of students get into graduate and professional programs since 1990.

He is the creator of the STEPS to the LSAT self-study support program.

Mr. Cutts offers free admissions planning help at:

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