The following post is from one of our authors, Alexa Smith. She scored in the 99th percentile on her MCAT and compiled a 4.0 while in college as bio major. Here’s Alexa.
An MCAT study schedule is an excellent way to make a plan for yourself regarding MCAT prep. It both gives you a way to know if you are falling behind and helps you save time for all of the prep you want to do.
Without a schedule, you could easily fall behind on content review and end up not having enough full days for practice exams. Or you could end up having to cut content review short and rushing through some practice materials before your exam.
With a schedule, you can hold yourself more accountable and know that you are getting done what you need to succeed.
The following article provides a 4-month MCAT study plan for you to follow and adjust according to your specific needs. Although four months may seem like quite a bit of time to prepare, you need to ensure that you study (almost) every day.
As far as time commitment goes, you should aim to study 7 to 14 hours a week during the first fourteen weeks. Then you should aim for 40 to 60 hours a week during the last two weeks. All in all, you should plan to dedicate anywhere from 178 to 316 hours of MCAT prep throughout this 4-month study plan.
What Is This Study Schedule?
This schedule below outlines how you might study for the MCAT over four months (or 16 weeks). This schedule’s design is unique because it matches the cadence of the busy schedules of students. The study plan takes a full course workload into account—start prep during the school year and end prep during summer break (or any other break period).
Starting prep during the winter months might be a typical time frame for people who want to submit their medical school applications in June but still need to take the MCAT.
Typically a late May test date can still allow for a normal application cycle timeframe. Ensure that your MCAT score will come in time for your application to be on track.
This schedule could also apply to people testing over winter break who want to study during the fall semester. In this case, spring break would be replaced by Thanksgiving and/or fall break.
This schedule references the Kaplan books specifically, and also includes the use of the AAMC online materials. It contains five full-length practice exams, which means that one will need to come from another source, such as the free Blueprint full length.
How To Adapt This Schedule for You
You can use this study plan precisely as shown, or you might adapt it slightly to fit your needs and preferences. You can also feel free to shuffle days around or change the subjects’ order covered as it suits you. Feel free to alter this schedule however you want to make it work! Whether this is restructuring a few things or only using this as a reference for your own MCAT schedule, this is meant to be a useful tool for you, so use it however is best for you.
However, I would recommend going through all the books at once rather than finishing one subject at a time. Doing this ensures that all the subjects are still fresh.
You might be using books other than Kaplan, which will require adapting this schedule some. Most other books also go through by subject, so you should be able to follow the subject schedule.
This schedule has 12 chapters for each of the six subject books, with 72 chapters total. CARS is not organized by chapters.
Find out how many chapters your books have and try to line up the chapters to the study plan accordingly. This might mean covering 1.5 chapters in your book for each Kaplan chapter listed, or something similar. This could also mean changing how many subjects are covered in a day if it makes more sense for your books.
Different Time Frame
I know that some people might not have exactly 16 weeks. Maybe you are studying over 15 weeks, or even over 17 or 18. This sample schedule can still be a useful reference.
You can expand or compress this schedule as needed to suit you. If you are trying to get done faster, then try doing a little more than what is listed each day. You could also take out some content review or practice days if you feel that you do not need them or could fit them into other places.
Similarly, if your day-to-day time frame differs from this, you can push work from some days into other parts of the week to make room for work, courses, or other time commitments that you might have.
Different Academic Calendar
I designed this schedule around a fairly typical spring semester at my university. I am assuming a heavier midterm workload before spring break, as well as a heavy finals load.
The weeks I have laid out might not fall correctly with your spring break or finals. In this case, just shuffle the weeks in terms of when you are doing the heavy content review.
If you are on the quarter system, you might need to make more extensive adjustments to account for when you have breaks to study and take your MCAT while still finishing out the quarter.
More/Less Practice Exams
If you wanted to take more or fewer practice exams than scheduled in the plan, you can do so. You could remove a practice exam day and use that to catch up on the rest of the day from the week, or as a rest day. However, I strongly recommend to include at least the 5 AAMC practice full-length exams in your prep.
Adding exams is a bit harder, but you could do a bit extra each day during the week to clear out a free day for an additional practice exam. You also likely could include some content review or practice on the same day as your full-length review if needed.
The 4-Month MCAT Study Schedule