MCAT Study Schedules: How Many Hours Is “Just Right”?

As pre-med students, you’re always on the go.  There’s so much to do in preparing for medical school – juggling challenging science classes, taking leadership roles in extracurricular activities, volunteering, shadowing, and working on research.  Add on top of that studying for the MCAT and you’re often concerned about balancing your time. Since many of you may be getting ready to register and study for the new 2013 MCAT, we wanted to tackle one of those classic questions about setting up your MCAT study schedule:  “How many hours should I be studying?”MCAT Blog

Two months ago, my family was graced with its newest member, Carl.  One of the best things about having a new baby around is getting to relive all the great stories and wonderment of your childhood.  We all remember the classic story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears – and while assessing the temperature of porridge may not be a big part of your schedule (though passages about q = mcΔT certainly should be!) – it certainly reminds us that finding the “sweet spot” of how much time to study for the MCAT is imperative.  So let’s see if we can find how much is “just right.”

Too little – Most MCAT students are concerned that they fall into this group.  If you’re worried that you’re stretched a little too thin to devote time to the MCAT right now, make sure that you consider what other Test Dates might be available.  But if you’re set on a test date, it’s all about maximizing what time you DO have!  Make sure to focus on high-yield resources, like AAMC’s and Kaplan’s practice tests.

Too much – Is it possible to study too much for the MCAT?  Indeed, if you find that you’re getting burn-out, you need to schedule time for other fun activities too.  By refreshing your mind, you’ll be able to return to studying with fresh eyes.  In other words, while a Full-Length exam every day during the last week before Test Day might sound like a good idea, it’s a much better plan to utilize slightly fewer exams and maximize their potential through active review.

Just right – You should ideally be able to spend three hours at a time studying, on five or six days of the week.  When you begin your studying (mostly focusing on securing the content and getting used to the MCAT test interface), you may find you don’t even need quite this much time.  But as MCAT Test Day gets closer, you’ll certainly have to ramp up:  Full-Length exams will take four hours, after all.

That’s a suggested timeframe, but what do you think?  How much time did you study for the MCAT – and what strategies did you use to optimize that time?

 

  • Jenstm19

    I raised my score 7 points by studying 3 days a week with a friend and 3 days a week by myself and leaving one day all for myself for 5 weeks. I studied about 5-8 hours a day, but if possible I would have loved to space it out a little more than 5 weeks. I studied everything I felt needed and by raising my score 7 points I felt pretty successful about it.

    • http://www.kaptest.com/mcat Alex Macnow

      It’s great to hear about your success — thanks for sharing! You also bring up a good point: studying with friends (or in small study groups) helps you bolster some of your weaker areas while helping your friends in the areas you know cold. If you can teach something, you really know it.
      -Alex

  • Alex Macnow

    It’s great to hear about your success — thanks for sharing! You also bring up a good point: studying with friends (or in small study groups) helps you bolster some of your weaker areas while helping your friends in the areas you know cold. If you can teach something, you really know it.
    -Alex

  • Essa_Achakzai

    how can i take MCAT for MD or MBBS i need an online MCAT preparation if you have please inforne me
     

    • http://www.kaptest.com/mcat Alex Macnow

      Essa – Kaplan offers a number of online courses for MCAT Preparation. Check out the website at kaplanmcat.com or call our team at 1-800-KAP-TEST and we will happily discuss the options with you!

    • http://www.kaptest.com/mcat Alex Macnow

      Essa – Kaplan offers a number of online courses for MCAT Preparation. Check out the website at kaplanmcat.com and you can easily see the options!

  • EL Arraganto

    I study every day. All day. One month. One test. I’m scoring in the 40’s. Study all you want, but at the end of the day it’s an aptitude test (60% at least) so content review will only take you so far. Plus, you have to compete with the likes of me…

" "