MCAT STUDY SCHEDULES

For hopeful future health professionals, studying for the MCAT exam can seem like climbing an unconquerable mountain. Like any significant challenge, your chance of success is relative to how effectively you prepare for it. To set yourself up for the best chance of passing the MCAT exam we recommend following a comprehensive study schedule. In this article, you will find some specific MCAT study schedules that can be personalized to suit your study needs. 

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 500 hours for adequate preparation, and this can be used to figure out when is best to take the MCAT

How early you commence your 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 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. Also, be sure to check out our guide on how long the MCAT is, for tips on how to use these MCAT studying schedules to build up to this marathon of a test. 

Check out more of our awesome MCAT resources.

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 Full-Length MCAT Practice Tests: You can either purchase these on the AAMC website or get two full-length free MCAT practice tests
  • Practice questions: You can utilize the many abbreviated practice tests from MCAT prep companies here
  • MCAT prep books: Choose from a list of the top proven and comprehensive MCAT prep books that will get you through the next 3 months
  • Weekly planner: It’s imperative to write down your study commitments written down to hold yourself accountable! Write everything that you are committed to, or plan to get done, including  family and social commitments, that will impact your MCAT study schedule.
  • Read the MCAT Essentials to be sure you know everything about test day.

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. We have broken down some MCAT studying schedules by the length of time needed so you can select a schedule that suits your needs.                 

40 hours per week (3-Month MCAT Study Schedule):

At 40 hours of studying per week, this MCAT study schedule is the equivalent of a full-time job. As mentioned, being realistic about the time you have available to study daily is critical before you take on this full-time gig. Studying for 40 hours per week is recommended for those who don’t have a full-time job and are free to devote their time to studying.

If you currently have a full-time job, don’t commit to this MCAT study schedule, or you may quickly suffer from burnout. 40 hours per week of studying equates to either 7 hours of study per day for 6 days or 8 hours of study per day for 5 days. Notice that you need to have a day of rest, as with any work. Keep in mind, this is an extreme form of studying, as the following schedule indicates:

Sunday: Off

Monday: 9-1 MCAT, 1-2 Lunch, 2-5 MCAT, 5-7 Break, 7-8 MCAT

Tuesday: 9-1 MCAT, 1-2 Lunch, 2-5 MCAT, 5-7 Break, 7-8 MCAT

Wednesday: 9-1 MCAT, 1-2 Lunch, 2-5 MCAT, 5-7 Break, 7-8 MCAT

Thursday: 9-1 MCAT, 1-2 Lunch, 2-5 MCAT, 5-7 Break, 7-8 MCAT

Friday: 9-1 MCAT, 1-2 Lunch, 2-5 MCAT, 5-7 Break, 7-8 MCAT

Saturday: Off

Notice there is barely time for working out and mental health breaks during these 5 days of studying. Don’t say we didn’t warn you! Keep this schedule in mind when you read articles about 3-month MCAT studying schedules. Most of them are not realistic and will only hurt your scores.

Overall: Studying 40 hours a week, you will be ready to take the MCAT in 3 months.

Popular Commercial MCAT Prep with 3-Month Schedules

Gold Standard MCAT Prep Check out the required materials

  • See our review of Gold Standard’s MCAT Prep

Kaplan Check out the required materials

  • See our review of Kaplan’s MCAT Prep

Examkrackers Check out the required materials

  • See our review of Examkracker’s MCAT Prep

Related: A Day in the Life of a Medical Student

30 hours per week (4-Month MCAT Study Schedule):

Studying for 30 hours per week is close to a full-time commitment and should be treated as such. That said, it’s not as intense as 40 hours per week and can lead to a more comfortable and healthy test prep period. An MCAT study schedule of 30 hours per week is best for those who are not working full-time and should be considered a last-resort option if you have other responsibilities such as work, school, or family commitments.

Overall: Studying 30 hours a week, you will be ready to take the MCAT in 4 months.

Popular Commercial MCAT Prep with 4-month Schedules

Gold Standard MCAT Prep Although not designated as an actual “4-month schedule,” Gold Standard recommends doubling the length of time of their 2-month schedule – Check out the required materials

  • See our review of Gold Standard MCAT Prep

20 hours per week (6-Month MCAT Study Schedule)

20 hours of studying a week is the sweet spot when it comes to creating an ideal MCAT study schedule. As a truly part-time commitment, you can balance full-time commitments such as work, school, or caring for family members. If you miss a day of studying, it’s possible to make it up by increasing your hours the next day.

A typical MCAT study schedule could range from 3 hours every day, to 4 hours for 5 days. Planning outside commitments will influence when you study and for how long. What should be avoided is the temptation to skip a day or two of studying when you’re tired. You can always change up your study schedule to match how you feel, whether that means studying before going into work or getting the bulk of your prep in over the weekend when you have no other obligations.

Overall: Studying 20 hours per week, you will be ready for the MCAT in 6 months.

Popular Commercial MCAT Prep with 6-Month Schedules

Gold Standard MCAT Prep

Although not designated as an actual “6-month schedule,” Gold Standard recommends stretching out the time you take to complete the 3-month schedule over 6 months. 

-Check out the required materials

Kaplan

Similarly, not designated as a “6-month schedule,” you can simply stretch out their 3-month schedule for 6-months which gives you more free time and makes the schedule easier to cope with! 

-Check out the required materials

  • See our review of Kaplan’s MCAT Prep

Examkrackers

Not a “6-month” schedule, but again, we recommend you stretch out their 3-month schedule to fit a 6-month schedule. 

-Check out the required materials

  • See our review of Examkracker’s MCAT Prep

15 hours per week (8-Month MCAT Study Schedule)

The MCAT is a test of your endurance. Studying 15 hours per week is certainly no sprint, but is an easy enough target to hit and for some people, it can be a superior strategy to cramming and taking the MCAT after 40 hour study weeks.

An MCAT study schedule of 15 hours per week is the lowest recommended study load, and there is a risk of forgetting what you have already learned if you take too long to get through the required prep. 15 hours per week means that you can easily juggle 1-2 other obligations and not feel like you are missing out on life for the next 8 months. At this rate, we recommend studying daily for 2 hours rather than cramming 15 hours into 2 days.

Overall: Studying 15 hours per week, you will be ready for the MCAT in 8 months.

Popular Commercial MCAT Prep with 8-Month Schedules

Gold Standard MCAT Prep Although not designated as an actual “8-month schedule,” you could quadruple the length of time of their 2-month MCAT schedule – Check out the required materials

  • See our review of Gold Standard MCAT Prep

Looking for a full review of the best online MCAT prep courses? Check out our list of the best MCAT prep courses available! Planning on taking the MCAT this year? What’s your MCAT studying schedule? Let us know by commenting below!

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