Building the Best MCAT Study Schedule

October 12, 2023
5 min read
Contents

”Rohan

Reviewed by:

Rohan Jotwani

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

Reviewed: 10/12/23

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. 

Two students studying for the MCAT

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 Build a Great 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.

Step 1: Determine Your Timeline

An MCAT study schedule

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. Decide how many hours you can dedicate to your studies each week. 

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. 

Regardless of how long you plan on studying, we recommend you plug in any outside commitments that will cut into your daily study time straight into your MCAT schedule. This way you’re aware of your availability each week and can make up for lost hours on your rest days! 

Step 2: Begin With Test Content 

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

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

Step 3: 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 and targeted practice sections/questions. 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.

Step 3.5: Consistent Review

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 helpful than focusing on the individual questions. 

Step 4: Adjust Your Schedule

Your schedule is not set in stone! As you begin your prep, you may find you need more or fewer hours a week. You may also need to change your rest days around! Don’t be afraid to adjust as you go to ensure your schedule is as effective as possible.

MCAT Study Schedule Templates [1, 2, 3, 4, & 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. This is the shortest timeline we recommend and is not ideal for full-time workers or students. 

If you’re on a time crunch, download our one-month MCAT study schedule to follow! 

2-Month MCAT Study Schedule 

Studying for two months is more ideal because you’ll have more time to absorb the content and practice applying it! This type of schedule is best for summer when you have few other commitments and can focus on your studies! 

Take a look at our 2-month study schedule as a guideline!

3-Month MCAT Study Schedule

Three months is the ideal amount of time to give yourself before taking the exam. You will feel less rushed, can spread your studies over a longer period of time, and spend more time working on your weaknesses. Download our sample three-month MCAT schedule to follow.  

4-Month MCAT Study Schedule

Some students take longer to study for the MCAT due to other demanding commitments, such as extracurriculars, work, or research. Students who require four months to study can dedicate fewer hours to their studies per day or week. Check out our comprehensive four-month MCAT schedule to design your ideal study plan!  

5-Month MCAT Study Schedule

While summer is the ideal time to study for the MCAT, some students study into the school year because of their limited availability. In this case, it’s essential you consider your class demands in your schedule. Since you’ll likely only be studying 3-4 hours a day, only include obligations that cut into this time into your study schedule!

Ensure you tailor this schedule to fit your lifestyle. Don’t overcrowd days you have several classes, and ensure you remain realistic to avoid burnout! Here’s how we suggest you build your 5-month MCAT schedule

6-Month MCAT Study Schedule

If you require six months to study for the MCAT, it’s likely because you have to juggle several responsibilities at once. While adding MCAT prep on top of your already packed schedule may seem daunting, giving yourself six months allows you to study only a few hours a day to meet your target score!

Download our 6-month MCAT study schedule to ensure you stay on track and use your time effectively! 

If you are having trouble keeping track of a study schedule or creating one, you may benefit from some comprehensive MCAT test prep tutoring. MCAT tutors help you develop a plan, learn the material using the best prep tips, and provide materials for practicing.

MCAT Study Schedules: FAQs 

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.”

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 at least 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 Hours a Week Should You Study for the MCAT?

You should study 15-40 hours a week for the MCAT. The shorter your study schedule, the more hours you’ll need to dedicate to your studies each week. 

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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