A lot of students have emailed us asking what the best MCAT study schedule is, and the answer always varies on a few factors including how much time you have to study, what your diagnostic test score is, and what classes you have or haven’t taken before the MCAT. That said, with the help of our friends over at MCAT Self Prep, we’ve got templates for MCAT study schedules ranging from 3 to 8 months.
How These FREE MCAT Study Schedules Work
We’ve partnered with Timothy Nolan, a head instructor at MCAT Self Prep, to share with you an MCAT study schedule template for 3, 4, 6, and 8 months. These MCAT study schedules all reference resources that are free utilizing the MCAT Self Prep Free MCAT eCourse (though you will need to purchase any official AAMC resources for practice). These 12 content modules referred to in each of these MCAT study schedules are what you’ll get when you sign up for the MCAT Self Prep free course.
Keep in mind that these MCAT study plans don’t take into account your diagnostic score and are not customized for your strengths/weaknesses. Because of this, I suggest utilizing the MCAT Self Prep Create-Your-Own-Study-Plan course which is only $9.99 and includes their MCAT video course.
Wait. Who is MCAT Self Prep!? Read our review of the company here.
How Much Should You Study for the MCAT?
The AAMC recommends studying for 300-350 hours before taking the MCAT with some institutions recommending up to 500 hours. For our MCAT study schedule recommendations, we’re assuming minimum of 500-800 hours for adequate preparation, and this can be used to figure out when to take the MCAT.
How early you commence your MCAT study plan and which classes you have taken will determine how much time you’re going to need to study for each section. Consider adding an additional 50-100 hours to your total study plan if you have not taken Biochemistry. Similarly, add 30 hours if you did not take Orgo 2, and 50 hours if you did not take Physics 2.
Check out more of our awesome MCAT resources.
What You’ll Need:
- CARS Question Pack 1 and 2: You’ll need to purchase these Official AAMC CARS Question Packs ($15 each). They’re also included in your AAMC bundle, if you already own that.
- AAMC Official Full Length Practice Tests: You’ll have worked through 7 full-length practice tests by the time you complete any of these MCAT study plans. You can also find some free full-length MCAT practice tests.
- Weekly planner: It’s imperative to write down your study commitments to hold yourself accountable! Write everything that you are already committed to, or plan to get done. Don’t forget holidays and other family commitments – these will impact your MCAT study schedule.
MCAT Study Schedule by Month
As mentioned, not having taken certain classes could add extra months to your MCAT study schedule, as can simply not having the hours available to dedicate to studying. Everyone has different learning styles or needs from their test prep, which is there are so many varying MCAT study schedule lengths. We have broken down some MCAT studying schedules by the length of time you may need, so you can select a schedule that suits you.
3 Month MCAT Study Schedule:
- Expected Score Improvement: < 12 points
- Total Hours: 800
- When to Start: early May (for August/September MCAT test)
3 Month MCAT Study Schedule Template
3 Month MCAT Study Schedule Sample
Tips on Making Your 3 Month MCAT Study Schedule
The first content module you start with should be your lowest-scoring section. In this case, this student needs to focus the most on Physics 1, so we will start with that content module. We will work our way through all of the Physics module before starting a new module. Throughout each content module, time is also set aside for working through CARS passages.
When you make your MCAT study schedule with the Build-Your-Study-Schedule course, you will actually input all of the scores you received on each section of the MCAT diagnostic (or real test) as well as your goal scores per section. The study schedule will then calculate how many hours you’ll need to devote per section in order to reach your goal score.
This month’s goals were to finish Physics 1 and Physics 2 Modules (each expected to take ~70 hours) and complete 36 CARS passages.
See how you can use the MCAT Study Plan Spreadsheet:
4 Month MCAT Study Schedule
- Expected Score Improvement: 13-15 points
- Total Hours: 950
- When to Start: April (for August/September MCAT)
4 Month MCAT Study Schedule Template
4 Month MCAT Study Schedule Sample
Tips on Making Your 4 Month MCAT Study Schedule
Typically, a 4-month MCAT study schedule is going to be a full-time commitment, so you should plan on using this when you have little outside commitments. This schedule is recommended for students who plan to prep starting in April and will be taking the MCAT in August or September.
With 4 months, an average student can expect to improve his/her MCAT score by 13-15 points, assuming around 200-300 hours per month studying.
The 4 month MCAT study sample above had been made for a student whose 3 weakest content areas were Physics 1, Physics 2, and Chemistry 1 (in that order). Each content module should be completed before starting the next.
If your weakest areas are different, simply swap out the modules with the ones you need to study. You can also input your scores into the spreadsheet and map out your 4 month study schedule so it will be personalized to your status and goals.
6 Month MCAT Study Schedule
- Expected Score Improvement: 13-25 points
- Total Hours: 950
- When to Start: Anytime
If you’re still unsure of what your “peak” study time is, try taking a quick sleep chronotype quiz to figure out when you are at your best studying as well as planning your sleeping routine accordingly.
6 Month MCAT Study Schedule Template
6 Month MCAT Study Schedule Sample
Tips on Making Your 6 Month MCAT Study Schedule
This 6 month MCAT study schedule sample has been created for a student seeking a 13-25 point score increase. It is very aggressive and requires a full-time study commitment for 6 months. With this long of a timeline, there isn’t a specific test date, and you can choose which MCAT test date works best with this long of a study period.
For those who may not find this kind of schedule sustainable, you can change the amount that you study each month to accommodate your schedule. That said, we still recommend keeping up at least 100 hours per month for retention.
8 Month MCAT Study Schedule
- Expected Score Improvement: < 15 points
- Total Hours: 1,050
- When to Start: Anytime
8 Month MCAT Study Schedule Template
8 Month MCAT Study Schedule Sample
Tips on Making Your 8 Month MCAt Study Schedule
Generally speaking, students who are using an 8 month MCAT study schedule are juggling other obligations outside of school. At this rate, we recommend studying daily for 4-5 hours.
There are some questions about whether an 8 month MCAT study schedule is sustainable, however. The length of this MCAT schedule means that you risk losing or forgetting content you’ve reviewed at the beginning of the 8 months. If you absolutely cannot make your schedule work with a 4-6 month MCAT study schedule, then you may want to consider waiting to prep when you have more time. That said, we understand that people are busy and real life can’t always be adapted to fit a study plan perfectly.
The best MCAT study plan obviously is going to depend on where you are in your studies as well as how much time you have to devote to studying. If you’re looking for more ways to study for the MCAT, you can also consider some of these free MCAT study guides, which also include 3, 4, 6, and 8 month MCAT study plans.
MCAT Study Schedule FAQ
How many hours a day should I study for the MCAT?
How many hours a day you need to study for the MCAT varies greatly on how long you are prepping for the MCAT, but 4 hours daily is the minimum.
How long does it take to prep for the MCAT?
Most high MCAT scorers who went into MCAT prep with a solid amount of content knowledge required ~400-500 hours and others between 600-800 hours.
Is 3 months enough study for the MCAT?
3 months of studying for the MCAT is the bare minimum we recommend prepping for those who already have a solid grasp of the content. You’ll likely only see about a 12-pt score increase .
How do I organize my MCAT study schedule?
Organizing your MCAT study schedule requires you to plan your weeks in advance so that you have built in your study time into your day-to-day. With MCAT Self Prep’s Study Plan course, you can do this on your own.
Can I prep for the MCAT in 1 week?
No. If you have only 1 week to study, it is imperative to reschedule your MCAT test date so that you have an adequate amount of time to review the content.
When should I take the MCAT?
Most students take the MCAT between the summer after sophomore year and April of their application year, effectively using the summer holiday to prep with fewer commitments.
When do I take an MCAT practice test?
You should take your first MCAT practice test at the beginning of your MCAT prep as your diagnostic test score and also the 2 weeks leading up to your test date.
Other MCAT Prep Courses with MCAT Study Schedules
There are other popular MCAT prep companies that offer MCAT study schedules for 3 months up to 8 months, but most do require that you purchase their MCAT course to access it. That said, here are a few places to start:
Kaplan MCAT 2 Month MCAT Study Schedule (just double the time to complete)
Continue reading more on popular MCAT prep content: