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Atlantis students speaking with a doctor while shadowing in the hospital (Genoa, Italy, 2019).

Applying to Med/PA School

How One Premed Student Used Khan Academy to Conquer the MCAT

Marissa profile

About Marissa

Marissa is a recent graduate of Clemson University where she received her B.S. in Health Sciences. During the summer of 2019, Marissa participated in the Atlantis shadowing program in Trento, Italy, and now works as an Alumni Representative with the company. She is currently applying to medical school where she hopes to become a primary care physician.

If you are about to start studying for the MCAT, you may be feeling anxious or overwhelmed. You may be struggling to create the right study routine or to know which materials to use. As someone who was once in your shoes, I know exactly how difficult it is to overcome these worries. Take a deep breath and know that there are some phenomenal resources out there that will help you crush your exam on test day. For me, the best place to start was Khan Academy.   

What is Khan Academy?

Created in 2008, Khan Academy is a non-profit organization that has forever changed the way that students study. This personal learning resource offers practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard that empowers students to study at their own pace. Now that Khan Academy is partnering with AAMC, all of the content and videos are selected to match the material that is expected on test day. 

What makes this platform so unique?

Thanks to the AAMC and donors, Khan Academy can continue to provide all of its MCAT resources for free. While you do need to create an account to access the learning material, the entire process is simple and very user-friendly. By creating an account, all of your progress is saved as you go, making it difficult to lose your place. This is a valuable resource for students who lack access to expensive course materials and are looking for content to help enhance their understanding and improve their scores.

Additionally, in order to make the site as interactive as possible, students can accumulate points and earn badges from watching videos and taking practice exams. This fun and exciting gamification feature encourages learners to complete their lessons throughout the program. Overall, the online platform is easy to use and minimally designed to avoid feeling overwhelmed with information. 

Resources like Khan Academy are invaluable in preparing for the MCAT. Even though the MCAT can feel like the top priority of your pre-medical journey, it is also crucial to make sure you are prioritizing other qualities medical schools look for, like healthcare exposure and specific core competencies. You can be strategic in selecting extracurricular opportunities that don’t interfere with your studies that provide these experiences, such as Atlantis shadowing programs over school breaks. Doing so makes you an applicant that is able to embody the qualities medical schools are looking for.  

How did I use Khan Academy?

I spent a lot of time trying to create a study routine that worked for me. With my MCAT months away, I needed to do a significant amount of content review to prepare me for the exam. Since I am a visual learner, I greatly benefited from the comprehensive videos that Khan Academy provides. The drawings that the instructors provided were often very helpful in how I conceptualized difficult topics. It was nice that I could pause the videos or speed them up to suit my needs. If you are not a textbook learner, I highly recommend checking out this alternative.  

While the curriculum and video instruction is unparalleled, I found that there were not enough practice materials for me to apply the information I was learning. To compensate for this, I used AAMC practice material as well as AnkiWeb to round out my studying. I used Khan Academy as my main source of content review and found other resources to supplement what was lacking. Khan Academy was my foundation and helped me create sustainable study habits as I prepared for test day. 

How does Khan Academy compare to Kaplan or Princeton Review?

Unlike Kaplan and Princeton Review, there are no practice tests or question banks. The practice exercises that Khan Academy does provide are superficial and do not resemble the depth of understanding that you are expected to know for the MCAT exam. However, unless you are willing to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars, many third-party companies do not have video courses available for content review. By using Khan Academy, you are able to save a significant amount of money. For me, I chose to use the money that I saved to participate in the Atlantis shadowing program, which I knew would strengthen my passion for medicine.  

How do I know if Khan Academy is right for me?

Every student is different, and it often takes trial and error to find the right study materials for you. Fortunately, Khan Academy is free, meaning that you can watch as many videos as you want before deciding if this is the right resource for you. For more information on Khan Academy and how it has helped other students, you can reach out on Reddit or with your university advisor. Happy studying!

Cover of the Medical School Admissions Guide.

Two Atlantis alumni admitted to Top 5 MD programs wrote our widely read medical school admissions guidebook guidebook — download yours.

Our Alumni Enter Great Medical Schools

John Daines headshot.

John Daines

  • Atlantis '17
  • Brigham Young University '19
  • Washington U. in St. Louis MD '23
Zoey Petitt headshot.

Zoey Petitt

  • Atlantis '17
  • U. of Arizona '18
  • Duke MD '23
Yong hun Kim headshot.

Yong-hun Kim

  • Atlantis '17
  • Stanford '19
  • Mayo Clinic MD '24
Megan Branson headshot.

Megan Branson

  • Atlantis '18
  • U. of Montana '19
  • U. of Washington MD '24
Sarah Emerick headshot.

Sarah Emerick

  • Atlantis '19
  • Eckerd College '20
  • Indiana U. MD '25
Snow Nwankwo headshot.

Snow Nwankwo

  • Atlantis '19
  • Catholic U. of America '21
  • Georgetown U. MD '26
Tiffany Hu headshot.

Tiffany Hu

  • Atlantis '16
  • U. of Maryland '17
  • U. of Michigan MD '22
Lauren Cox headshot.

Lauren Cox

  • Atlantis '18
  • Louisiana Tech '20
  • U. of Arkansas MD '24
Kayla Riegler headshot.

Kayla Riegler

  • Atlantis '18
  • U. of Kentucky '20
  • U. of Kentucky MD '24

About Atlantis

Atlantis is the leader in pre-health shadowing and clinical experience, offering short-term programs (1-10 weeks) over academic breaks for U.S. pre-health undergraduates. Medical schools want 3 things: (1)healthcare exposure, (2)GPA/MCAT, and (3)certain competencies. Atlantis gives you a great version of (1), frees you to focus on (2), and cultivates/shows (3) to medical school admissions committees.

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Watch Video: The Atlantis Shadowing Experience and How it Helps In Your Med/PA Admissions Future

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Cover of the Medical School Admissions Guide.
Two Atlantis alumni admitted to Top 5 MD programs wrote our widely read medical school admissions guidebook — download yours.