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Knox College recently offered pre-med students an opportunity to sharpen their test-taking skills before attempting the daunting Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).
Vovis Center for Research and Advanced Study and Health Professions Advising Director Lisa Harris says the College developed an idea to hire an academic coach to improve students’ study habits and boost their confidence heading into the test. She describes the MCAT as “a beast to study for,” as the test can take over eight hours to complete.
Amanda Brem, creator of the Brem Method study course, joined students during fall term in six one-hour sessions. She describes the course as a highly flexible system that focuses on making standardized test prep fit into the lifestyle of a busy student, not taking it over. “We figure out the pain points, the weak areas in your prep that are holding you back, and work on those first and often.”
One of the unique qualities of the Brem Method is that any student can utilize the course, not just those attempting to take the MCAT. Because of this, a number of Knox students who were preparing for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and other similar standardized tests found value in the course.
Brem says her course teaches students how to organize their study habits into a method that helps them retain knowledge. She says that, in many cases, students study in a way that stresses them out to the point that they can’t focus. Brem gives each student an individualized solution to help them understand their personal habits and how to maximize efficiency. This could include changing up study times, deciding which parts of their work to focus on more and less, or even how to take breaks more effectively.
“Students at Knox seemed to be invested in their education and learning these skills. They asked helpful questions and utilized office hours. The course received a lot of positive feedback after we were finished,” Brem said.
Setting Up Student Success
Taryn Elsner ’23, who is studying for a major in biology and hopes to go into pediatrics, took part in the course to prepare for taking the MCAT in early 2023. She says she was originally scheduled to take the MCAT in the summer of 2022, but “chickened out.” She says the length of the test was too mentally taxing to handle at that time. Having access to this course allowed Elsner to transform her bad study habits into something more effective.
In particular, Elsner says Brem’s course helped her learn to break sections down into smaller portions, a method that was tailored to her needs. She says she also worked on her need to compare her study progress with other students. When she allowed herself to study at her own pace, without comparison, her confidence rose. “This course gave me the perspective to take a step back and study holistically.”
Sarah Hoffmann-Weitsman ’24 utilized the course to prepare for the GRE. She says the course helped refresh her mind on how to approach a standardized test, as she hadn’t taken one since high school.
Hoffmann-Weitsman says she felt like Brem did a great job making the course applicable to everyone. She particularly enjoyed discussing how to analyze passages and how to read questions most effectively to truly understand what was being asked. “That never soaked in for me during high school. This really opened my eyes.”
Harris says the course will be offered again in the fall term of 2023. She was happy with student participation during the first offering.
“Students have said they believe it will not only make them better for the MCAT, but for general study practices across the board at Knox,” Harris said. “Ultimately, that’s what we’re trying to do. We try to make sure all students are set up for success.“
Published on February 03, 2023