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Building an MCAT Study Schedule: Beyond Basics

September 15, 2017
Emily Hause

Consider these techniques for building your MCAT study schedule.

Make the most of your limited pre-med prep time.

One of the biggest questions we often get asked here at Kaplan by pre-med students is how to build an MCAT study schedule. It’s an especially important question when you’re preparing for the MCAT while also doing other essential pre-med activities—such as taking classes, volunteering, working, conducting research, and being an all-around awesome medical school applicant.

We have a couple of posts about the basics of building a solid MCAT study schedule, but today we’d like to hit on a few of the more advanced considerations.

Build in different times for separate subjects

Beyond simply putting a box in your calendar that says “study MCAT” on Saturday morning from nine to noon, you should actually figure out which subjects you’re going to study. Is Saturday all about biology? Are you going to spend 1.5 hours on biochem review, then move on to physics?

The same principle applies to homework slots for school. Build in time for your English paper as well as time to work on the lab report you’ve got to turn in. Making sure you think about which school subjects and MCAT subjects you need to cover helps ensure that you haven’t neglected any of them, a strategy that will in turn help you be more efficient

Get specific about your MCAT study schedule goals

In a similar vein, make sure you’ve been specific about how you’d like to progress as you plan for success. Your goals should be specific—e.g., specify that you want to go up by two points in the CARS section of the MCAT when you take your practice test next week.

If your goals are specific enough, you can then build an MCAT study schedule to help you achieve them. If you want your CARS score to increase by two points, then set aside time to do two timed CARS passages every day for two weeks. Correct the ones you get wrong to help improve your score.

Remember travel time

One of the most overlooked aspects of creating an MCAT study schedule is using your travel time effectively. Unfortunately, we haven’t learned to teleport quite yet. If we could, we could utilize every last second of the day. Since we haven’t, you can get creative about how you introduce studying into your travel time.

It’s easier if you’re using public transportation and can read, flip through flashcards, or even do practice questions using the Kaplan online interface while you commute. If you’re driving or walking, you can get MCAT review lectures downloaded onto your iPod or CDs that you can use. It may sound nerdy, but it’s effective and might just prove to be a useful study strategy once you get to medical school.

Your winning medical school application is within reach. We offer live online MCAT prep courses that can help get you there.



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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