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Useful Websites for Premeds

Mar 31, 2021

The advent of technology has changed nearly every industry. From smart cars to smart phones, our world will never be the same. As we navigate our new modern world, we can’t help but feel nostalgia for the past. Our ancestors were intelligent and they read physical books, attended college lectures, and wrote notes during those lectures. Even though these classic learning methods have worked in the past, we are under no obligation to follow them step-by-step. New and innovative online resources provide us with more creative and debatably easier ways to study and learn. 

In this article, we’ll discuss some modern learning websites that are designed to help you understand tough topics and breeze through your undergrad courses. 

Quizlet

Flashcards are one of the simplest and most productive study methods to date. Even though they are not always glamorous, they are proven to be very effective. When you use flashcards, you are engaging in active recall. In other words, you are attempting to remember a concept from scratch. Researchers found this active recall retrieval practice leads to a 150% better retention rate than passive studying. 

Flashcards have very positive effects, however, they come with some nuisances as well. We all know flashcards can take a long time to make. Not to mention, we don’t always know if we are making effective flashcard decks until we get our exam scores back. Andrew Sutherland identified both of these pain points for students and created a resource to help solve the problem. Alas, quizlet was founded. No more spending hours writing our flashcards. Quizlet allows you to make online flashcards and study flashcard decks made by other students. After creating an account, you can save flashcard decks to your profile and study from your mobile device while you are on the bus or waiting at the supermarket checkout line. Ultimately, quizlet allows you to gain the benefits of flashcard studying with some tech-aided convenience. 

If quizlet seems overbearing, a good alternative is brainscape. Similar to quizlet, brainscape has MCAT specific flashcard decks for each of the sciences tested on the MCAT, including biology, psychology, biochemistry, general chemistry, physics, organic chemistry, and sociology. 

Flashcards are a great way to memorize facts for your studies, but they are not so great at helping you learn how to solve math or physics problems. So, what online resources are available to help you improve your calculations skills? 

Wolfram Alpha

Learning how to solve mathematical problem requires a different study method than those employed for memorizing facts. Although mathematics is not a direct field of study tested on the MCAT, your mathematic skills are indirectly assessed in chemistry, physics, and organic chemistry. For instance, your MCAT could include kinematics or stoichiometry problems. For this reason, it is important to develop strong mathematical skills if you plan on becoming a doctor. 

The internet has all kinds of question-answering capabilities, but the answers are not always easy to find in a google search. 

Like a specifically designed search engine for students, wolfam alpha allows you to do calculations of all kinds. This website has an endless source of information to help you practice your calculation skills. Is your professor not good at explaining? No problem. Wolfram alpha offers step-by-step solutions so you can learn how to get to the right answer yourself. Wolfram alpha has expert knowledge on all kinds of topics, from elementary math to computational sciences.

Symbolab

If you are looking for math-specific help and you are not satisfied with Wolfram Alpha’s answers, consider Symbolab. Symbolab is an answer engine designed specifically to generate step-by-step solutions for mathematical problems. Symbolab can solve problems in algebra, trigonometry, calculus, and so on. Think of Symbolab as an answer engine that can help you make sense of any math problem. 

Many students ask the question: What is the difference between wolfram alpha and symbolab? Essentially, wolfram alpha brings expert-level knowledge and computational abilities across a wide range of professions and education levels. Symbolab, on the other hand, is a step-by-step calculator for mathematical equations. The key difference between wolfram alpha and symbolab is wolfram alpha has search engine capabilities, while symbolab does not. 

Khan Academy

Khan Academy has been a student favorite since it was founded in 2006 by Sal Khan. This non-profit educational organization produces short lessons in the form of videos. You can learn all types of topics on Khan Academy, including biology, chemistry, physics, and more. In addition to videos, their website also includes supplemental practice material, such as multiple-choice questions. 

Khan Academy has an MCAT specific section, which includes free videos and practice questions for the MCAT exam. Unfortunately, however, Khan Academy will retire their free MCAT Test Prep course on September 30, 2021. Despite the retirement of this section of their website, the videos related to the MCAT exam can still be found in other parts on their website or on youtube. 

In summary, the digital landscape of our online world is constantly changing. While you are taking your prerequisite courses for the MCAT, these new and innovative online resources can supplement your studies.

Sources 

Karpicke, J. D. & Roediger, H. L. (2008). The critical importance of retrieval for learning. Science, 319(5865), 966-968. doi: 10.1126/science.1152408

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