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MCAT Re-booted: Study Block Part 1

February 7, 2013
Patrick Boyle

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!


Patrick Boyle

Patrick Boyle I am a former Kaplan MCAT student that excelled on my exam through the Kaplan methods and began teaching for Kaplan at the University of Illinois – Urbana – Champaign center. Upon graduation I moved back to the Chicagoland area and became a full time teacher in our Chicago centers. I really strive to bring enthusiasm and energy to the classroom believing a positive attitude sets the tone for success! When I am not teaching the MCAT, you can find me training for triathlons or picking which bow tie to wear next!


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