3-three-month-months-mcat-study-schedule-plan

How to Study for the MCAT in 3 Months

Creating your MCAT study guide is one of the most important aspects of preparing for the MCAT, but it can also be one of the most difficult. The AAMC recommends that the average pre-med student spend between 300 and 350 hours over several months preparing for the MCAT. Three months might seem like plenty of time to prep, but you’ll still need to set aside many hours of study time each week in order to score competitively on the MCAT. Below is a weekly plan designed to help you get the score you want.

[ RELATED: How to study for the MCAT in 1 month ]

Get your own copy of Kaplan’s 3-month study plan for the MCAT

MCAT Study Essentials

Before you get started, you’ll need to identify and gather your study materials. Here are some we recommend:

  • AAMC’s MCAT Essentials Guide: Before you register for the MCAT, you’ll be required to review information about test logistics, content, and timing found in the Essentials Guide. This is a great place to get started on your MCAT prep.
  • AAMC Full Length Tests: The MCAT website has four full-length practice tests available.
  • AAMC Sample Questions and Sections: The AAMC web site has two different packages of practice questions available. The Official MCAT Section Bank has 300 practice questions separated into 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).
  • MCAT Practice Questions: Kaplan’s MCAT QBank has in-depth explanations, so you’ll learn from your mistakes and raise your score.
  • 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: An online calendar can be a great tool for keeping track of and accessing your personal study plan from anywhere. Plus, you can share your calendar with others so they know your schedule and can help you stay on track.
  • Take a class: If the idea of studying and making a schedule completely on your own seems daunting, consider signing up for a class such as Kaplan’s MCAT Prep. Our Online Course class sessions cover the strategies and skills needed to succeed on the MCAT, and the course’s study plan helps you decide what you should study, when to take practice tests, and how to pull it all together for Test Day.

Now that you have your resources, it’s time to begin studying. Since you have three full months to study, you should focus on reviewing the test content broadly so you can pick up points from each section of the test. While you shouldn’t completely ignore sections you’re most comfortable with in your studying, you shouldn’t make them your sole focus; it’s certainly a confidence-boost to focus on material you know well, but in the long run it won’t help your score as much as if you spend time reviewing content you’re less confident in. Use the following plan to guide your studies.

Rebecca, Kaplan MCAT Expert

MCAT 3-Month Study Schedule: Week 1

  • Start your studying by taking a diagnostic practice test or completing a question set that covers all the topics from the MCATto familiarize yourself with the whole test and establish your baseline performance. The MCAT Sample Test is a great resource for this. There is also a free online practice test available from Kaplan, as well as 3 Full-Length tests included with the Kaplan MCAT Books.
  • Use your initial test results to determine which content areas you need to work on. Make changes to the study plan below accordingly. For example, if you did well on all reproduction and nervous system questions, you might only study those topics briefly and spend more time on a Biology subject you didn’t do as well with, such as amino acids and the immune system.
  • Build a weekly study schedule. Fill in your calendar with study blocks, planning to study at least three hours per day, six days per week. Take one day off from studying each week to give yourself some time to recharge. Assign specific study topics to each block so you know what to study when, and so you’re confident that you have enough prep time set aside before the test.
  • Set up a rotating schedule that works through these topics:
  • For test-like practice, use the AAMC Sample Questions and Sections and choose passages based on the content areas you have reviewed.
  • In addition, study for the Critical Analysis and Reasoning (CARS) section daily. Use the AAMC Sample Questions and Sections to read passages and work on passage-related questions.

Start with the fundamentals of each subject area, and split your time between different topics each day. In order to get the most out of your study time and really focus on each test topic, you should plan on focusing on individual topics for at least an hour to an hour and a half.. Here’s a sample calendar of what your first week of study might look like:

SundayMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturday
Full Length TestTest Review; Study PlanningBiology, Biochemistry + CARSGeneral Chemistry, Organic Chemistry + CARSPhysics, Psychology and Sociology + CARSRevisit problem areas; 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

MCAT 3-MONTH STUDY SCHEDULE: WEEKS 2-8

  • Devote study blocks on a rotating basis to Biochemistry, Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Physics, and Behavioral Sciences.
  • For test-like practice, use the AAMC Sample Questions and Sections and choose passages based on the content areas you have reviewed.
  • In addition, 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.

Organize your time around your existing commitments. Some days you may be able to schedule more than one topic; on other days, you may be able to fit in only one subject. Remember to work on CARS every day. An example week might look something like this:

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

Specific topics to study each week include:

MCAT Study Plan: Week 2

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

MCAT Study Plan: Week 3

  • Biology: The Nervous System
  • Biochemistry: Enzymes
  • General Chemistry: Compounds and Stoichiometry
  • Organic Chemistry: Bonding
  • Physics: Work and Energy
  • Psychology and Sociology: Learning and Memory
  • CARS: Reading to Find the Most Important Information

MCAT Study Plan: Week 4

  • Biology: The Endocrine System
  • Biochemistry: Carbohydrate Structure and Function
  • General Chemistry: Chemical Kinetics
  • Organic Chemistry: Alcohols and Ethers
  • Physics: Thermodynamics
  • Psychology and Sociology: Cognition and Language
  • CARS: Reading to Find the Most Important Information

MCAT Study Plan: Week 5

  • Biology: The Respiratory System
  • Biochemistry: Lipid Structure and Function
  • General Chemistry: Equilibrium
  • Organic Chemistry: Organic Oxidation and Reduction
  • Physics: Fluids
  • Psychology and Sociology: Emotion and Stress
  • CARS: Foundation of Comprehension Questions

MCAT Study Plan: Week 6

  • Biology: The Cardiovascular System
  • Biochemistry: DNA and Replication
  • General Chemistry: Thermochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry: Aldehydes and Ketones
  • Physics: Electrostatics
  • Psychology and Sociology: Identity and Personality
  • CARS: Reasoning Within the Text Questions

MCAT Study Plan: Week 7

  • Biology: The Immune System
  • Biochemistry: RNA Transcription and Translation
  • General Chemistry: The Gas Phase
  • Organic Chemistry: Carboxylic Acids
  • Physics: Magnetism
  • Psychology and Sociology: Psychological Disorders
  • CARS: Reasoning Beyond the Text Questions

MCAT Study Plan: Week 8

  • Biology: The Digestive System
  • Biochemistry: Biological Membranes
  • General Chemistry: Solutions
  • Organic Chemistry: Carboxylic Acid Derivatives
  • Physics: Circuits
  • Psychology and Sociology: Social Processes and Behavior
  • CARS: Reading and Answering Within the Time Allowed

Ready to get started on your MCAT prep? Try our free online MCAT course.

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MCAT 3-MONTH STUDY SCHEDULE: WEEKS 9-11

  • Begin each week with a practice test, and follow up with a full day of test review. Carefully evaluate the topics and types of questions that you are missing, and use that to hone your study strategy.
  • 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; Study PlanningBiology,  Biochemistry + CARSGeneral Chemistry,  Organic Chemistry + CARSPhysics, Psychology,  Sociology + CARSRevisit problem areas; modify Study PlanDay Off

Specific content areas for Weeks 9 through 11 include:

MCAT Study Plan: Week 9

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

MCAT Study Plan: Week 10

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

MCAT Study Plan: Week 11

  • Biology: Genetics and Evolution
  • Biochemistry: Bioenergetics and Regulation of Metabolism
  • General Chemistry: Electrochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry: Separation and Purification
  • Physics: Atomic and Nuclear Phenomena
  • Psychology and Sociology: Social Stratification
  • CARS: Synthesis of Reading and Answering Questions

MCAT 3-MONTH STUDY SCHEDULE: THE FINAL WEEK

Once again, begin the week by taking and reviewing your practice test, looking over every question and using the results to modify your study plan if needed. 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 an AAMC Practice Test available from aamc.org. Set aside time to review the test as well.
  • For your remaining few days, spend time reviewing the content areas that you struggled the most with on your last full-length test. If you’ve never truly mastered a topic, though, now is not the time to attempt to learn it. Instead, focus on the material that you struggled with the first time through but that you think you can master given just a little more time.
  • If you have time, travel to the testing center first to make sure you know how to get to the correct building, where to park, and which room your test will be in. Having all these logistics out of the way will help reduce your stress on Test Day—and ensure you aren’t late!
  • Take the day before the test completely off; your brain needs to rest before the marathon of test-taking 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 day of the MCAT, wake up with plenty of time to spare, and be sure to eat breakfast before leaving to give your brain the fuel it needs.

MCAT Study Plan: Final Week

This plan will put you well on your way to success on Test Day. But keep in mind that if after three months you don’t feel prepared for the MCAT, or you aren’t scoring near where you want to be on your practice tests, you should consider changing your test date. It’s better to postpone your plans and get the score you want the first time than to not do well and have to retest anyway.

SundayMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturday
AAMC Practice TestTest Review; Study Planning for Final WeekFinal Content ReviewFinal Content Review, Visit Test CenterFinal Content ReviewDay OffTest Day!
Study schedule for your final week of MCAT prep

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