MCAT Re-booted: Study Block Part 1

MCAT blog

Following up on last week’s entry on Study Schedules, I want to continue the focus and narrow in on what “study blocks” are and how to best implement them.  Many of you were asking what a typical day in the week would look like. Remember, the focus of re-thinking your MCAT studying is to build consistency over to aid in preventing burnout and producing a happier you!

The first question that many students ask is how long they should be studying for.  Right away many say “9, 10 hours? All day even?” I am here to tell you that is simply not the case.  Remember that the goal for total hours studied for an MCAT should be around 300 hours on average. Keeping that in mind, a good number to start at is 6.  Just 6 hours is the max many study in a given day, often less.

The important thing to note about these hours is that it is NOT 6 hours in a row.  Ideally, you want to break those 6 hours over 3 different sessions in the day.  Could you study for 6 hours in a row? Yes, absolutely you could, however, we find that students study more efficiently and put in more quality time when they limit a “study block” to only 2 hours.  This allows them to stay focused and work hard during that time frame and then back off and take a break.

Below is a list of common daily schedules used by our students. I, once a Kaplan student, used the ‘Early Riser’ Schedule many days during my MCAT studies. This allowed to accumulate a lot of study time that I otherwise would not have found.

Early Riser

If you can become an early riser and schedule some of your classes for the late morning/ early afternoon you can really utilize your mornings for MCAT study.   This is a very similar schedule to what I personally did in my own MCAT preparation.

8am – Wake and Breakfast

9am – First Study Session

10am – Workout

11am – Second Study Session

12pm – Classes

6pm – Dinner

7pm – Study for Classes

9pm – Rest/ Relax

The “Not-a-Morning Person” Schedule

Simply put some of us are just not morning people and that is totally OK! With the MCAT offering the 1pm start time on select dates this shouldn’t cause any concern.  The trick to not being a morning person is to try and squeeze a study session in between your classes.

11am – Wake and Breakfast

12pm – Classes

2pm – First Study Session

3pm – Classes

6pm – Dinner

7pm – Second Study Session

8pm – Study for Classes

10pm – Workout

11pm – Rest/ Relax

The Weekender
As you can see in the two sample schedules above I always recommend time for a workout or at least some break that involves physical activity.  This can be the trick for keeping yourself focused and alert during long study days. Remember for most of us we are trying to balance class work with MCAT work! When you fall behind the best thing to do is to use your weekends to catch up! Most importantly you want to use at least one of your weekend days to take a full length exam.

10am – Wake and Breakfast

11am – First Study Session

1pm – Workout/ Lunch

2pm – Second Study Session

4pm – Break/ Errands

5pm – Study Session

7pm – Enjoy your time off. Remember it’s the weekend!

Stay tuned! More to come on what goes into those 2 hours of a “study block”.  Remember a happier you in #MCATdomination!

  • Annabelle

    This is a great post thank you! But I think my main problem is the quality of study I’m doing rather than the hours. I can sit for 2 hours at a time to “study” but that doesn’t mean that I have learned anything. How can you have quality in your 2 hours?

  • Christopher Thomas Scott

    if interested you can always use my study method which is very similar to the “early riser” but then again take note that i graduated and have no classes or job and dedicate a lot of time on the MCAT. I hope your find this useful and Kaplan can add this also to there scheduled plan for students if they like. 
    7am-8am: eat breakfast shower etc.8am-12pm: study your MCAT Kaplan courses and read review notes and every 50min take a 10min brake 12pm-130pm: lunch brake (DONT STUDY, relax your brain listen to music or read an interesting article(that you like not MCAT related) to get your reading skills up for VR).130pm-5pm(6pm): study and practice your notes and also use Q-Banks to practice on those VR passages and take up your verbal edge which is very but VERY useful. equations and other memorizing facts you can learn them by making yourself mini tests (wont happen over night keep at it!).(7pm-9pm): do something fun (workout) or your current hobby(9pm-7am): SLEEP AND RELAX and there is a total of 6-8 hours depending on what mood you are in and its very versatile and can be adapted to a premed curriculum of 12 credits.

    • Christopher Thomas Scott

      also forgot to mention, TIME YOURSELF and pause your timer for bathroom brakes and your 10min brakes(Facebook, naps,call a friend, eat a snack, drink a nice bottle of water or coke (i like coke)).

    • BBB

       How long did you keep this schedule up before taking the MCAT? Or, if you’re in the process how many months between when you started and your planned MCAT date? What do you do on weekends?

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