How Hard is the MCAT? Really hard. But there are better, more effective ways to prepare


“No matter how many passages I do there’s never enough time to finish. I can’t get my speed to improve.”

Abby P.

“I get really stressed out and anxious when I do CARS passages. It’s really hurting my performance.”

Ali S.

“Getting the main idea and key ideas is a real problem. I really have a problem with comprehension.”

Monica S.

Why do Students do so poorly on the MCAT and particularly the CARS Exam even though they study long hours?

Because They Study The Wrong Things.

What the Research Shows

When I was an instructor at Harvard, we designed an MCAT course for the Harvard and MIT students (MIT students can cross-register at Harvard). When we started teaching the course we found that the biggest challenge that students had with the MCAT was in their reading ability. This had a big negative impact on their CARS scores and also affected the other sections of the test because it slowed down reading in the other sections and affected their understanding of questions and answers.

When we restructured the course to first focus on CARS, we found that once students mastered this section, improving their reading speed, comprehension, and analytical ability, we found a number of results that surprised us. First, their CARS scores went way up, and second, their other scores went up on average 1.5 points per section without any additional study in those sections because they could read them faster, understand what they were reading at a deeper level, and more accurately analyze questions. So we began a research project at Harvard that later became the Cambridge Learning Center. We’ve worked with thousands of students applying to medical school and here’s what our research shows:

The Most Effective Way to Prepare for the MCAT

Master CARS first. Real mastery in this section requires a different type of analytical ability than you used in undergraduate science. CARS requires the development of both Reflective Intelligence and a different form of lateral thinking. To do this, you have to master a whole new domain of knowledge and reasoning ability.

According to the research from MIT, Stanford, and other research centers, the process of mastery in verbal reasoning is made up of 2 parts: part 1 is understanding how language really works, particularly in humanities passages. To do this you have to master the basics of grammar and rhetoric. These are the foundations of Verbal Reasoning which is what they are testing. Sorry, there are no shortcuts, no ‘Tips’ or ‘Tricks’ or ‘Test Taking Techniques’. Did you have any of those in organic chemistry or physics? I don’t think so. You mastered the fundamental in those subjects and that’s what got you a good grade. The same thing is true in CARS. Once you master grammar and rhetoric, introducing logic models will get you the right answers to questions.

How are we sure that these models work? They are the same models used for language analysis at any major university department that deals with language (literature, linguistics, philosophy, etc). They even use these models to program artificial intelligence and when they do they get 100% of the answers correct 100% of the time.

The elements required to master verbal reasoning aren’t nearly as hard as chemistry or physics but there is a lot of material to learn and practice. In mastering these models, it’s best to get help somewhere. Trying to do it on your own is like an English major trying to teach herself organic chemistry on her own. Additionally, work with other students. If you ever learned a foreign language, you know that language skills are best acquired when they are used interactively. There’s a big difference in knowing Spanish vocabulary and being able to use it and speak fluently: you need interactive conversation to make it automatic. The same is true for language processing in CARS.

How CARS Relates to the other MCAT sections

What’s really interesting about this is that once you master CARS not only will your scores improve here as previously mentioned, but your studying of these other areas will be more efficient and effective. First, you’re reading will be faster and more comprehensive, but perhaps more significantly your recall and memory will improve. One of the most important aspects or recall is association. In mastering CARS the right way, your brain is trained to pick out patterns and relationships: the main idea, key ideas, and the relationship between them. The ability to see a greater amount of relationships in what you are studying in the other sections will significantly increase your recall in addition to making your studying in these areas more efficient and effective.

If you mastered a Pre-Med Course, you can certainly master the MCAT

Is the MCAT hard? You bet; it’s really hard. But you’ve handled ‘hard’ before and succeeded. The same thing is true with the MCAT. But just as you mastered your Pre-Med Course scientifically, you have to approach the MCAT scientifically, not anecdotally.

How hard is the MCAT? Really hard, but you can definitely do it even if you’ve taken the test and not done well before. We’ve worked with students who took the test 2, 3 and even 4 times and once they mastered the right methodology they got into medical school. You’ll see some of them below.

Free Resources

We have quite a few free resources to help you out in addition to our regular courses. In addition to our blog posts, we offer free classes almost every Tuesday evening at 8:00 Eastern Time a free diagnostic test and a 4 part video series.

Is the MCAT hard? You bet it is, but you can master it just like you mastered your Pre-Med Course, but in addition to studying hard, you have to study smart. Do these methods work? Just take a look at what our students say and there are plenty more reviews on our web page

Our Courses

I’ve been teaching this course for over 10 years after getting 2 graduate degrees at Harvard and teaching there. I’ve seen how critical reading skills greatly improve when students master the fundamentals of verbal reasoning, and I’ve seen this work whether I’m teaching pre-med students or hedge fund managers in Beijing.

There are no “Tips” or “Tricks” or “Exam Taking Techniques” for mastering CARS. Just like chemistry or physics, you have to master the fundamentals of language and reasoning. You’ll find out how to do that, and do it with excellence in Mastering CARS.

Mastering CARS is the only course that will teach you and actually have you master the fundamental critical reading skills you need to read passages quickly and comprehensively, and get the right answers to questions.

If you’re willing to do the hard work to make your dream of becoming a physician come true, we can show you how and we’ll keep working with you until you get into medical school. But our courses aren’t for everyone. We demand high performance standards from our students.

But this course isn’t for everyone. You won’t find me giving you easy short cuts and tips that don’t work. Just like your science courses, you’re going to work hard and work smart. But just like your science courses, you’ll master the fundamentals and succeed.

Join us for our free classes and find out more about how to master the MCAT. Take a look at what are graduates have to say:

Jessica T.

"My CARS score went up 6 points"
~Jessica T.
(now at UMASS Medical)

Now let me tell you what you’ll get in the course if you should decide to take it.


"A 6 point improvement. Time to spare."
~Holly C.

  • 36 hours of personal instruction in a class of 6 or fewer students over 9 weeks. Constant individual attention tailored to your specific learning needs.

  • 24 hours of self-correcting video exercises where you can practice what you learn in class.

  • Individual tutoring if you get stuck on any language skill.

  • Cutting Edge Neuroscience Exercises to increase your cognitive function

Here’s the timetable of what you’ll be learning during the course.

Sean X.

“My verbal score went up 3 points. I would especially recommend it for other ESL students.”
~Sean X.


“They stuck with me no matter what and got me into Mayo.”
~Alex G.

  • At the end of 2 weeks, you’ll have mastered Grammar and the Structure of Essays so you will know exactly how to quickly pick out main ideas and key ideas.

  • At the end of 3 weeks, you will know how different types of language is used in esoteric humanities passages. You’ll also learn cutting edge neuroscience exercises that wil keep you focused and eliminate or greatly reduce stress and test taking anxiety

  • At the end of 4 weeks, you will know how to relate key ideas to the main idea and each other so you can see what they suggest and imply.

  • In the 5th week, you’ll master the analysis of questions and answers so you’ll be choosing the right answer analytically instead of choosing what seems right or feels like the right answer.

  • From the 6th to the 9th week, you’ll be working on speed and precision to get you to the point where you can read a passage comprehensively in 3 to 4 minutes and average 12 out of 13 correct answers, 1 error every other passage.

Kamal S.

“The quality of teaching was excellent. I am now at Drexel Medical School.”
~Kamal S.

Just as important, you’ll have other bright, motivated students to work with between classes, going over assignments. It’s the interaction between peers, just like residency training, to embed what you are learning and turn your analysis of passages into something your brain does automatically, instead of something you have to think about. This will greatly enhance your speed and comprehension.

Alla Y.

“I tried another prep course. However I never learned even 20% of what I learned here.”
~Alla Y.

If you’re wondering whether this will work or if its right for you, just take a look at what so many of our students have said.

Again, this course isn’t for everyone, it’s only for really committed students because we make a big commitment to you. Unlike those other courses that focus on “exam taking techniques”:

Chris D.

“Best Money I have ever spent on myself. I got into medical school.”
~Chris D.

Devon A.

“They actually care and work with you. Others just try to sell you a course.”
~Devon A.

  • You’ll be taught by award winning faculty from major universities, not some student who took the test. If you sign up for this section, you’ll have me as a teacher.

  • You’ll have my personal cell number and I will always be available for any extra help that you need.

  • You’ll have a money back guarantee. If in the first 30 days you’re not satisfied, you’ll get a complete refund. In all my years of teaching only one student requested this, and that was because he decided to go to dental school.

  • If things are tight for you financially, we’ll find a way to extend your payments or other means so you can afford it.

Sure, you can try to prepare on your own, but would you try to teach yourself organic chemistry? There are plenty of other courses out there that are cheaper and faster, where you’ll learn “tips” and “tricks” for taking the CARS Exam. Our classes are full of students who have taken these courses. Did you learn organic chemistry by learning “tips” and “tricks” for taking an organic exam? You had to grind it out, hopefully with a great teacher who was always there to support you.

We take your success very seriously. When a patient comes to you, they come with their lives in their hands. When you come to us, we know that you come with your future in your hands. As our students tell us: “They want you to get into medical school as much as you do”.  

If you’re interested, you’ll need to act quickly. Our classes fill up pretty rapidly.

You’ve worked so hard and so long, let us help you overcome the last hurdle.