study for the mcat in two months

How to Study for the MCAT in 2 Months

Creating your MCAT study guide can be one of the most important but challenging aspects of preparing for the MCAT. According to the AAMC, the average pre-med student should spend about 240 hours preparing for the MCAT over three months. As the official MCAT prep of the AMSA, Kaplan recommends that you spend 300-350 hours studying so you can be above average. If you’re planning on taking the MCAT in two months, you’ll need to put aside a significant amount of study time each week for in order to be able to score competitively.

[ RELATED: 1-Month MCAT Study Guide ]

Before you get started, you’ll need to gather together your study materials. Here is our recommended list:

 

Get your own copy of Kaplan’s 2-Month Study Plan for the MCAT >

MCAT Study Essentials

  • AAMC’s MCAT Essentials Guide

    You’re required to review the official MCAT info in the Essentials Guide before you register for the MCAT. It’s full of information about the test, including logistics, content, and timing. The Essentials Guide is a great place to get started on your MCAT prep.

  • AAMC Full Length Tests

    Two full-length online practice tests are available for purchase on the MCAT website. The first, the Sample Test, is unscored–it only tells you if you get a question correct or incorrect, and gives you an unscaled percentage. The second, the Practice Test, is timed and represents the complete MCAT test experience, including a scaled score and percentile ranking.

  • AAMC Sample Questions and Sections

    Two different packages of practice questions are available through the AAMC web site. The Official MCAT Section Bank has 300 practice questions in three section packs (natural sciences, behavioral sciences, and social sciences). The Official MCAT Question Packs have passages and questions from retired MCAT tests covering Biology, Physics, Chemistry, and Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS).

  • Kaplan’s MCAT Complete 7-Book Subject Review + Online Resources

    With Kaplan’s MCAT books, you not only get the printed resources that cover the subject matter from all the test sections but also access to three full-length practice tests online and additional science videos. The book set is worthwhile for these tests alone, since they provide realistic practice that includes scaled scores and percentiles for each section as well as detailed explanations for every question. Additionally, Kaplan’s MCAT 528 Advanced Prep Book and Online Resources will give you more preparation.

  • Online Calendar

    Creating an online study calendar is helpful for keeping track of your personal study plan from almost anywhere. And, if you share your calendar with others, they can help keep you accountable so you stay on track with your studies.

  • Take a class

    If you’re daunted by the idea of studying completely on your own, as well as the challenge of making a complete study schedule, consider taking a class such as Kaplan’s MCAT Prep. Both live and online classes are offered to help you cover the skill and strategies you’ll need to earn a competitive score on the MCAT, and the course’s study plan will help you determine what you should study, when you should take practice tests, and how to pull it all together for Test Day.

Week 1

  • Begin your MCAT prep by taking a practice test or question set that covers all the topics on the MCAT. This will help you familiarize yourself with the test structure and content and establish your baseline performance. The MCAT Sample Test is a great resource for this. Kaplan also has free online practice tests and 3 Full-Length tests included with the Kaplan MCAT Books.
  • Once you’ve taken your first practice test and have a diagnostic score, use your results to determine which MCAT content areas you need to work on the most. Your test score should be used to modify the below study plan to meet your needs. For example, if you did well on all endocrine system and immunology questions, you might only study those topics briefly and focus more of your energy on Biology subjects you didn’t do as well with, such as cell biology and genetics.
  • Build a personalized weekly study schedule. Proactively fill in your calendar with study blocks, planning on studying at least three hours per day, six days per week. Put specific topics to study into each block so you use your time well and ensure that you have enough prep time set aside. Give yourself a day off of studying every week so you have time to recharge.
  • Set up a rotating schedule that works through these topics:
  • Use the AAMC Sample Questions and Sections and choose passages based on the content areas you have reviewed for realistic test practice.
  • You should study for the Critical Analysis and Reasoning (CARS) section every day. Use the AAMC Sample Questions and Sections to read passages and work on passage-related questions.

Begin with the basics of each subject area, and focus on a different topic each day. In order to really focus, you’ll want to spend at least an hour to an hour and a half on each study topic. Here’s a sample calendar of what your first week of study might look like:

SundayMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturday
Full Length TestTest Review and Study PlanningBiology, Biochemistry, CARSGeneral Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, CARSPhysics, Psychology and Sociology, CARSRevisit problem areas and modify Study PlanDay Off

Specific content areas for Week One include:

  • Biology: Cell Biology
  • Biochemistry: Amino Acids, Peptides, and Proteins
  • General Chemistry: Atomic Structure and the Periodic Table
  • Organic Chemistry: Nomenclature
  • Physics: Dimensional Analysis, Basic Math and Statistics
  • Psychology and Sociology: Biological Basis of Behavior
  • CARS: Reading to Find the Most Important Information

Weeks 2-5

  • Devote blocks of study time on a rotating basis to Biochemistry, Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Physics, and Behavioral Sciences.
  • Use the AAMC Sample Questions and Sections and choose passages based on the content areas you have reviewed for realistic test practice.
  • In addition, continue studying for the Critical Analysis and Reasoning (CARS) section on a daily basis. Use the AAMC Sample Questions and Sections to read passages and work on passage-related questions.

Because you likely have already-existing commitments, you’ll need to organize your study blocks carefully and deliberately. Some days you may have time to study more than one topic; on other days, you might only have time to study one subject. Remember to make CARS a daily priority.  An example week might look something like this:

SundayMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturday
Biology, Biochemistry, CARSGeneral Chemistry, CARSOrganic Chemistry, CARSPhysics, CARSPsychology, Sociology, CARSRevisit problem areas and modify Study PlanDay Off

Specific topics to study each week include:

 

Week 2:

  • Biology: Reproduction, Embryogenesis and Development
  • Biochemistry: Protein Structure and Function, Biological Membranes
  • General Chemistry: Bonding and Chemical Interactions, Compounds and Stoichiometry
  • Organic Chemistry: Isomers, Bonding
  • Physics: Kinematics and Translational Motion, Work and Energy
  • Psychology and Sociology: Sensation and Perception, Learning and Memory
  • CARS: Reading to Find the Most Important Information

Week 3:

  • Biology: The Endocrine System, The Nervous System, The Digestive System
  • Biochemistry: Carbohydrate Structure and Function, Enzymes
  • General Chemistry: Chemical Kinetics, Solutions
  • Organic Chemistry: Alcohols and Ethers, Organic Oxidation and Reduction
  • Physics: Thermodynamics, Fluids
  • Psychology and Sociology: Cognition and Language, Emotion and Stress
  • CARS: Reading to Find the Most Important Information, Foundation of Comprehension Questions

Week 4:

  • Biology: The Respiratory System, The Cardiovascular System
  • Biochemistry: Lipid Structure and Function, DNA and Replication
  • General Chemistry: Equilibrium, Thermochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry: Aldehydes and Ketones
  • Physics: Electrostatics
  • Psychology and Sociology: Identity and Personality, Social Processes and Behavior
  • CARS: Reasoning Within the Text Questions

Week 5:

  • Biology: The Immune System
  • Biochemistry: RNA Transcription and Translation
  • General Chemistry: The Gas Phase
  • Organic Chemistry: Carboxylic Acids, Carboxylic Acid Derivatives
  • Physics: Magnetism, Circuits
  • Psychology and Sociology: Psychological Disorders
  • CARS: Reasoning Beyond the Text Questions, Reading and Answering Within the Time Allowed

Weeks 6-7

  • Begin each week by taking a practice test, and use the entire following day for test review. Carefully evaluate the topics and types of questions that you are missing, and use that to inform your study strategy and calendar.
  • For test-like practice, use the AAMC Sample Questions and Sections and choose passages based on the content areas you have reviewed.
  • Continue to study for the Critical Analysis and Reasoning (CARS) section on a daily basis. Use the AAMC Sample Questions and Sections to read passages and work on passage-related questions.
SundayMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturday
Full Length TestTest Review and Study PlanningBiology, Biochemistry, CARSGeneral Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, CARSPhysics, Psychology, Sociology, CARSRevisit problem areas and modify Study PlanDay Off

Specific content areas for Weeks 6 through 7 include:

Week 6:

  • Biology: The Musculoskeletal System, Genetics and Evolution
  • Biochemistry: Carbohydrate Metabolism, Bioenergetics and Regulation of Metabolism
  • General Chemistry: Acids and Bases, Electrochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry: Nitrogen and Phosphorus-Containing Compounds, Separation and Purification
  • Physics: Waves and Sound
  • Psychology and Sociology: Social Thought Processes
  • CARS: Synthesis of Reading and Answering Questions

Week 7:

  • Biology: Homeostasis and the Excretory System
  • Biochemistry: Lipid and Amino Acid Metabolism
  • General Chemistry: Oxidation and Reduction
  • Organic Chemistry: Spectroscopy
  • Physics: Light and Optics, Atomic and Nuclear Phenomena
  • Psychology and Sociology: Social Structure and Demographics, Social Stratification
  • CARS: Synthesis of Reading and Answering Questions

Week 8

As usual, begin your week by taking and reviewing your practice test, examining every question and using your results to update your study plan if necessary. Spend extra time reviewing CARS, re-reading the passages to determine what information you actually needed and what you didn’t.

  • Early in the week, take the AAMC Practice Test available from aamc.org. Be sure to set aside time to review the test afterward.
  • For your last few days before the MCAT, use your time to review content areas on which you scored lowest on your last full-length practice test. Focus on material you think you can master with just a little more time and practice; don’t attempt to learn topics with which you’ve never truly felt comfortable.
  • If time permits, travel to the testing center before Test Day to make sure you know where to park, how to get to the correct building, and which room your test will be in. Getting these logistics out of the way will lower your stress levels on Test Day–and ensure you aren’t late!
  • Take the day before the MCAT completely off; your brain needs rest before the MCAT marathon to come! Eat healthy, balanced meals and get a full night of rest so you are mentally and physically prepared for Test Day. On the morning of the MCAT, wake up early and eat a good breakfast before you go.
Example Study Calendar

This plan should set you well on your way to success on Test Day. But remember: if you don’t feel prepared for your test after two months or you aren’t scoring anywhere near where you want to be on your practice tests, it may be worth it to change your test date. It’s better in the long run to postpone your plans than have a less-than-ideal score on your MCAT application and have to retest anyway.

SundayMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturday
AAMC Practice TestTest Review and Study Planning for Final WeekFinal Content ReviewFinal Content Review Visit Test CenterFinal Content ReviewDay OffTest Day!