In addition to putting in the study hours to LEARN the information, you also have to ensure you don’t forget the material you’ve already covered.
You cannot afford to forget materials studied in week 1 as you tackle week 2, and you definitely don’t want to forget materials studied in month 1 as you progress to month 2, 3, 4…
So, how do you find a proper balance between learning the new information and still retaining all of the concepts, terminology, pathways, experiments equations and more as you progress through your MCAT studies?
Enter the Audio Summary Strategy
This is a modification of the simple time saving audio strategy with a specific focus on long-term MCAT retention.
Here’s how it works:
It may take you hours to master a particular MCAT topic. For example, it may take you 2 hours to properly review all of glycolysis.
While studying you will wind up with anything from 1-4 pages of notes covering this reaction.
Do you look at these notes again and again on a weekly basis to ensure you don’t forget? What about all of the other notes you’ve covered in past and future sessions?
Don’t waste your time!
After completing your 2-hour study session, take 5-15 minutes to record your notes into your cell phone. Every smartphone comes with a standard app for recording audio files.
Don’t just read your notes. Explain your notes.
Read and describe what you saw on paper as if you’re explaining it to another version of yourself, the “YOU” that has potentially forgotten this information.
Every time you complete a study session, take 5-15 minutes to create an audio summary recording.
This is the perfect step 4 of the 5 Steps to Mastering MCAT Sciences
Now here’s the best part!
How many minutes/hours do you find yourself physically busy but mentally free?
I’m referring to blocks of time where you are doing ‘busy work’ while your mind is free to wander.
This is a perfect time to pop in a pair of earbuds and listen to your audio summary playlist from last night, last week even last month.
- Walking the dog
- Commuting/walking to work, class, anywhere
- Washing dishes, folding laundry, preparing dinner…
- Gym/Working out
- AT work if you can get away with it
- Waiting… for food, friends, bus…
I use a Cell Phone Armband when listening to audiobooks/podcasts while gardening, doing chores or working out.
Don’t have ANY downtime? Perhaps you’re studying too hard! Take an hour a day to walk in the park and listen to your audio recordings.
The average student has anywhere from 1-3 hours EVERY SINGLE DAY that can be harnessed to listen to the audio summaries of previous sessions.
Listening To The Sound Of Your Own Voice
I discovered this strategy halfway through college. I lived 1.5 miles from school but required a bus AND train to get there. I studied my flashcards and books while waiting for, and once on the bus and train.
Then I discovered that a bike was more fun, faster, AND cheaper to commute.
But I missed out on the pre-class studying.
So I recorded my notes.
It was really weird at first. I felt really weird listening to the sound of my own voice.
But I got over it!
I realized that
- NO ONE but me would listen to it. I wasn’t being judged and frankly, no one cared
- The benefit outweighed my discomfort. I read my notes from the previous class and listened on my way to the next class. Talk about a solid pre-lecture refresher.
I also cheated
I found that when I increased the playback speed to 1.3x my pitch went up and it ALMOST sounded like someone else was talking to me. Enough to make it easier to listen to.
Every phone has a play speed options (under settings) allowing you to speed up and thus change the pitch of your audio.
Now picture this scenario:
You finished studying glycolysis and feel really confident about your understanding of the material. You’ve jotted down the reactions/enzymes of each step following the flashcards strategy and plan to review them at work or during TV commercials.
Now Imagine listening to this 10 minute recording tomorrow on your way to work. You have many other tracks to listen to and so you don’t hear it again till next week while you’re walking the dog.
And again the following week while doing laundry,
And again 2 weeks later (your audio library is growing every day) while walking the dog
And 3 weeks after that
And 3 weeks after that
Do you think you are more or less likely to remember every step of glycolysis doing it this way WITHOUT taking any precious sit-down study time to review the pathway?
Now imagine how you’ll feel doing this for your psych/soc terminology list, and your organic chemistry functional groups and even your physics equations.
The best part is,
It doesn’t take any extra time out of your day to have a constant reminder of the old information.
Yes it takes 5-15 minutes to record
It’s important to review what you’ve studied out loud as part of a proper MCAT study/retention method.
I’d love to hear from you!
How many ‘physically busy’ hours do you feel you waste on a given day? Let me know in the comments below