Building the Best MCAT Study Schedule

June 8, 2023


Reviewed by:

Rohan Jotwani

Former Chief Resident in Anesthesiology, Weill Cornell Medicine, & Admissions Officer, Columbia University

Reviewed: 6/6/22

Building an MCAT study schedule can seem overwhelming, especially if you don’t have much time to prepare. We’ll cover how to build the perfect MCAT study plan, regardless of how many months you have before your test. 

When studying for the MCAT, it’s essential to build a strong study schedule that works around your daily life. Whether you’re in school, working full-time, or have extracurriculars to keep up with, it’s crucial to plan your MCAT study schedule at least a month before your test to ensure you find enough time to study. 

We’ll cover how to plan the best MCAT study schedule for you. We’ve included timelines, MCAT study schedule templates, and examples of study schedules. Read on for everything you need to know about building the best MCAT study schedule!

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How to Make an MCAT Study Plan

No matter how much time you have to study before the exam, there are several items you will need to fit into your schedule. Here we’ll go over what you need to include in your MCAT study schedule.

Determine Your Timeline

The first step to planning your schedule is determining how much time you have to study. Before scheduling your MCAT test date, consider how much time you have to learn concepts and how much time you’d have to potentially retake the exam. 

We recommend following a three-month MCAT study plan to adequately prepare for the exam, although longer and shorter timelines are possible with a well-crafted schedule. That said, if you are working or studying full time, you should give yourself more time to avoid burnout. 

Focus on Test Content First

The most important part of studying for the MCAT is knowing the material. The MCAT is divided into four sections:

  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

Each section requires knowledge in areas you should’ve covered in the prerequisite courses you took for medical school. However, to study for each section properly, you should get well acquainted with the format of the questions. 

Start Practicing

Ideally, you’ll want to begin practicing for the MCAT three months before your test date. Focus on each section, giving yourself extra time to hone in on your weaker subjects. You can plan out this time using your MCAT study schedule template. 

We recommend a three-month-long MCAT prep schedule to allow yourself enough time to take multiple full-length practice tests. Maintaining focus for the full test is said to be challenging for some. Taking full-length practice tests allows you to get comfortable with the idea of concentrating for 7.5 hours straight. 

If you have under three months to prepare or are having trouble keeping track of a study schedule, you may benefit from the assistance of an experienced MCAT tutor. MCAT tutors help you develop a plan, learn the material, and provide materials for practicing. 


One of the most important parts of MCAT prep is reviewing your answers. On the questions you answered incorrectly, spend time analyzing why your answer was incorrect. To learn from your mistakes and avoid repeating them, you’ll need to devote time to reviewing concepts you haven’t fully grasped. 

Remember, having an in-depth understanding of the core concepts in each section is much more useful than focusing on the individual questions. 

MCAT Study Schedule Templates (1,3, and 6 Months)

Before building your schedule, you’ll have to determine your timeline. We recommend giving yourself three months to study for the MCAT for the most optimal results. However, achieving your desired MCAT results in less time with hard work, dedication, and a comprehensive schedule is possible. 

Here are our MCAT study schedule recommendations:

1-Month MCAT Study Schedule

One month of study time isn’t ideal, but it’s not impossible with a lot of dedication. Here is our MCAT study schedule for a one-month study period. This is the shortest timeline we recommend and is not ideal for full-time workers or students. 

This is a study schedule template that shows what a week in your one-month MCAT study schedule could look like: 

1-month mcat study schedule

Based on this template, you’d ideally be studying for the MCAT at least 25 hours weekly for four weeks. However, a one-month MCAT study schedule doesn’t give you the luxury of much time to prepare. 

Depending on your proficiency level, this may be enough; however, we recommend stretching your schedule to achieve the highest MCAT score possible. This schedule was based on someone who’s in school full-time. If that sounds like you, we recommend giving yourself more time to adequately prepare and prevent burnout. 

3-Month MCAT Study Schedule

Three months is the ideal amount of time to give yourself before taking the exam. Here is a sample three-month MCAT schedule

3-month mcat study schedule

Study time for each week can vary: taking AAMC practice tests can add more time to your weekly review. Using this three-month MCAT study plan, you’d be studying anywhere from 12 to 30 hours per week. 

This schedule does an excellent job of first building the basics: you take a practice test within the first week to see your initial score and can budget your remaining time to aim for your target. Beginning with a content review is an excellent way to ensure you grasp concepts before diving into practice exams and tests. 

If the three-month MCAT study plan works for you, we recommend adding to the study plan you began creating in the first week with new strategies, tips, and concepts you encounter as you go. Every time you review your study guide, the important information you’ve learned so far should be there!

6-Month MCAT Study Schedule

If you have six months or more to study before your exam, well done for being prepared! For some students who have work or school commitments, a longer MCAT study plan can be a sigh of relief. 

However, some students may find a six-month MCAT study plan too lax if they already have a good grasp of course content. If this sounds like you, feel free to condense your study schedule into a shorter time frame. 

An extra month or two past the standard three months can be ideal for taking full-length practice tests and covering all material at once after focusing on each section individually. Here’s our example of a six-month MCAT study plan:

6-month mcat study schedule

While this plan only includes five months of content, you can easily adapt it to fit an MCAT study schedule that’s six months long instead. This study schedule can work for some because you’re testing your knowledge in most or all subjects weekly, keeping the content fresh in your mind as you drill these points home. 

FAQs: MCAT Study Schedules

Have more questions about the ideal MCAT study timeline? These FAQs can provide more clarity. 

1. How Many Hours a Day Should I Study for the MCAT? 

There’s no one correct answer: how many hours a day you should study for the MCAT depends on the length of your study plan and your other commitments. Based on a recent survey conducted by the AAMC, “students reported preparing on average for three months for 20 hours per week.” 

You’ll need to allot more time daily if you have a shorter study schedule.

2. Is Three Months Enough Time to Study for the MCAT? 

For most MCAT test-takers, three months is enough time to study, although some students may require more time. If you study 20 hours weekly on average, you’ll have completed 240 hours of prep time before you sit for the exam. 

3. Is Six Months Enough Time to Study for the MCAT? 

Six months is often more than enough time to study for the MCAT. A six-month schedule may be best for students who need a better grasp of foundational concepts or those with hectic work/school schedules. 

4. How Long Should You Study Before Taking the MCAT? 

In terms of months, three should be enough time. In terms of hours, anywhere from 200-300 is standard. However, every student is different and has unique needs; what works for some may not work for others. 

5. How Many Days Before the MCAT Should I Stop Studying? 

The answer depends on your personal preferences; however, we don’t typically recommend studying the day of or the day before your test. If you plan to take an MCAT practice test, we recommend doing so at least five days to a week before your test to work through any last-minute concepts or errors. 

Build an Excellent MCAT Schedule, Enjoy Higher Scores

No matter how many months you have to prepare, creating a consistent and comprehensive study schedule is essential to properly get ready for the MCAT. 

If you’re struggling to create a study schedule or having trouble maintaining your current schedule, consider enlisting the help of an experienced MCAT tutor. MCAT tutors help you study for each section, review your materials, adjust your schedule, and provide useful materials to help you get the best MCAT score possible. Good luck with your test!

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