Building a Successful MCAT Study Schedule

April 18, 2014
Emily Hause

MCAT study schedule

mcat study schedule

Hello excited MCAT test-takers! So you’ve decided you’re going to take the MCAT. You’ve picked a test date, started your Kaplan MCAT class, and you’re ready to get started. One of the very first things you’re going to want to do is build a MCAT study schedule. It can be an incredibly intimidating prospect, but building a schedule is a vital component to achieving success on test day. First off, you’ll want to check out the AAMC’s recommendations for getting started on MCAT studying.

The AAMC recommends at least 300 hours of study time before taking the MCAT. That sounds like a ton of time! Fortunately, you’re not going to do all 300 hours in one sitting! Chances are you’ll be spreading your study time out over 2-3 months or even more depending on your prerequisite classes, extracurricular activities and other commitments which means that you’ll be studying about 20-30 hours each week.

I always tell my students that studying for the MCAT is like working a part-time job and you can schedule your studying the way you would schedule shifts at work. Depending on how you’ve spaced out your studying, you can plan study blocks that are 3 hours or even less per day! Studying seems much more manageable when it’s broken down into small chunks. Now let’s build that schedule!

1. Start by building in required commitments such as classes (including your MCAT class sessions), volunteering, and

Layer on
friends and family commitments such as weddings, birthdays, and baby showers.

Build in your
study blocks which are 2-3 hour chunks of dedicated MCAT study time.

Don’t forget to plan time for
exercise and stress-relieving activities.

Make sure you have enough time for things like grocery shopping and laundry while also having
one study-free, non-scheduled chunk of time per week.One thing that people often forget to include while building a schedule is travel-time between events. If you’re planning to study at the library, and it takes you twenty minutes to walk there, you need to account for that time in your schedule.

Making a good study schedule is difficult! Don’t hesitate to consult your instructor or me if you have questions or need feedback on your proposed study schedule!

Do you have any scheduling tips to share?

Happy studying!

Emily Hause Emily has been a teacher for Kaplan for over eight years; she's taught MCAT, ACT, SAT, SAT2 and tutored pretty much every subject under the sun in both the classroom and live online (aka Classroom Anywhere) settings. She's also worked for Kaplan in content development and teacher mentorship roles. Emily is currently a fourth-year medical student at the University of Colorado and is hoping to go into Pediatrics. She's involved in many campus opportunities such as being a Prospective Student Representative, admissions committee member, CU-UNITE member, and co-president of the Education and Teaching Interest Group. Prior to medical school, Emily got a BA in Biochemistry and Spanish from Lawrence University and a Masters in Public Health- Epidemiology from the University of Minnesota. In her free time, Emily enjoys dancing, baking, playing tennis and exploring her new Colorado home.

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