Khan Academy for Pre-Meds

by MaryBeth

Last week I shared a post on how I studied for the MCAT exam in 1 month. Because of my compressed timeline, I spent about 60% of my prep hours in class with The Princeton Review. The other 40%, however, I spent taking practice exams or watching videos from a non-profit online learning platform called Khan Academy.

Way before the MCAT, I used Khan Academy extensively for physics class. You see, much to my shock and horror, I had failed my first exam in Physics I. I contemplated dropping the class and talked it over with the professor. I nearly cried as I told him that I couldn’t imagine studying any harder, what with my packed schedule and two little kiddos. He explained that if I could find a way to study smarter, not harder, I might not need to drop after all. Khan Academy turned out to be the perfect way for me to study smarter and pull up my grades significantly. I found that Sal Khan’s video explanations were succinct enough to keep me interested and clear enough to help me understand. And because my memory is mostly photographic, anything I can do that will help me visualize an answer or solution is extremely helpful.

When I used Khan Academy for physics class, I simply watched the videos pertaining to what we learned in class that day and made Anki flashcards that would help me reinforce the key takeaways. Since I recall best using visual cues, I often included screenshots of the videos in my Anki cards (more on making the most of Anki in a future post). Then, when exam time rolled around again, I would re-watch the Khan Academy videos on 1.5x speed so I could cover nearly everything at least one more time.

In addition to its hundreds of videos on general sciences, Khan Academy offers a whole series of MCAT prep resources that was developed with guidance from the AAMC. Broken down into sections like Biomolecules, Organ Systems, and Chemical Processes, the Khan Academy material allows you to focus on a more narrow subject area. Within those categories, you will find subtopics like Viruses, Immune System, and Kinetics. This is where the rubber meets the road. If you know you’re weak when it comes to hormones or aldehydes, this list of subtopics is where you can find the right videos and question sets for you.

My approach to using Khan Academy for the MCAT was this: I printed off a list of every subtopic within every category in the suite of MCAT materials. Using highlighters, I added dots to every topic I thought I *should* review before the exam, and stars next to topics that I thought I *HAD* to review. The act of prioritizing the material and making an “action plan” was empowering and gave me a huge sense of relief. I made my way down the list, watching most videos at 1.5x speed to save valuable time. I used a different highlighter to strike through the topics I completed and, by the time I made it through the whole list, I felt confident heading into the exam.

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Has anyone else used Khan Academy for the MCAT? Please feel free to share your tips and tricks in the comments!

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