12 week MCAT study schedule

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is offered yearly, from the month of January to September. There are also about 25 MCAT test dates you can choose from. To avoid undue pressure, make it your goal to take the MCAT as early as possible. If you can, take the MCAT no later than mid-May before the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) application submissions start in early June.

Moreover, finishing the MCAT earlier gives you plenty of time to complete your AMCAS application as, like all things, the earlier you are able to fulfill application requirements, the better for you.

Deciding on your MCAT date

Although taking the MCAT before June is highly recommended, applicants will have their own academic schedules and other factors to consider. So if you need to study up more, or have coursework to finish, you can always opt to have the MCAT as and when you know you’re ready to tackle it.

Of course, your academic schedule may not allow you to take an early bird test. So, in case you have coursework to complete, or more studying to do, there’s no reason for you to feel pressured to take the MCAT before you are ready. You can always take it later in the year when you know you are prepared.

Studying for the MCAT in 3 months

In order to prepare sufficiently for the MCAT, you need to put together a study guide to which you can commit yourself. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) advises average pre-med students to devote anywhere between 300 and 350 hours preparing for the MCAT. To avoid getting overstressed, it’s best to spread out your preparation time over several months.

This three-month MCAT preparation schedule may seem generous at first, but keep in mind that you’ll need to budget hours of weekly study to get the ideal score you want. Here’s a weekly plan that’s designed to ensure you score competitively on the MCAT.

Week 1

Prior to starting your review proper, take a diagnostic practice test first, or answer a question set covering all topics from the MCAT. This familiarizes you with the test as well as sets your baseline performance. Also, by looking at the results, you’ll know exactly which areas require more attention during your review. You can do this by accessing the MCAT Sample Test.

Allocate at least three hours of MCAT study per day, six days a week. Use the one day off to recharge and decompress. Identify which topics to study for each block, and be sure to stick with it. Also, see if you can make a rotating schedule that covers the following topics:

Start with the basics of each subject area, and commit early on to devoting an hour to an hour and a half per topic.

Make sure you build a weekly study schedule. Create study blocks in your calendar, and devote at least three hours per day to studying, six days per week. Assign specific topics to each block, so you know what to study when. Also, be sure to take one day off from studying each week to give yourself some time to recharge.

    • Sunday: Biology, CARS
    • Monday: General Chemistry, STRAT
    • Tuesday: Organic Chemistry
    • Wednesday: Physics
    • Thursday: Psychology, Sociology
    • Friday: Review weaknesses/areas for improvement; modify study plan
    • Saturday: Day Off

    For Week 1, you may want to cover:

    • Biology: Proteins, Enzymes, Cells, Mitosis
    • General Chemistry: Basics of Chemistry Part 1
    • Organic Chemistry: Basics of Organic Chemistry Part 1
    • Physics: MCAT Math Part 1
    • Psychology and Sociology: Biological Basis of Behavior
    • CARS: How to Approach CARS 1/3

    Week 2

    • Biology: RNA and the Genetic Code
    • General Chemistry: Basics of Chemistry Part 2
    • Organic Chemistry: Basics of Organic Chemistry Part 2
    • Physics: MCAT Math Part 2
    • Psychology and Sociology: Sensation and Perception
    • CARS: How to Approach CARS 2/3

    Week 3

    • Biology: Carbohydrate Metabolism
    • General Chemistry: Thermochemistry and Thermodynamics Part 1
    • Organic Chemistry: Hydrocarbons 1/2
    • Physics: Kinematics
    • Psychology and Sociology: Learning and Memory
    • CARS: How to Approach CARS 3/3

    Week 4

    • Biology: Metabolism
    • General Chemistry: Thermochemistry and Thermodynamics Part 2
    • Organic Chemistry: Hydrocarbons 2/2
    • Physics: Dynamics
    • Psychology and Sociology: Cognition and Language
    • CARS: Identification and Analysis of CARS

    Week 5

    • Biology: Digestive and Renal System
    • General Chemistry: Kinetics, Equilibria and Ksp Part 1
    • Organic Chemistry: Carbohydrates 1/2
    • Physics: Torque, Work, and Energy
    • Psychology and Sociology: Emotion and Stress
    • STRAT: Navigating and Pacing

    Week 6

    • Biology: Endocrine System
    • General Chemistry: Kinetics, Equilibria and Ksp Part 2
    • Organic Chemistry: Carbohydrates 2/2
    • Physics: Fluid Mechanics Part 1
    • Psychology and Sociology: Identity and Personality
    • STRAT: Triaging and Wrong Answer Pathologies

    Week 7

    • Biology: Nerve and Muscle System
    • General Chemistry: Acids, Bases, and Buffers
    • Organic Chemistry: Reagents and Reactions Part One 1/2
    • Physics: Fluid Mechanics Part 2
    • Psychology and Sociology: Psychological Disorders

    Week 8

    • Biology: Blood and Circulatory System
    • General Chemistry: Electrochemistry and Redox Reactions Part 1
    • Organic Chemistry: Reagents and Reactions Part One 2/2
    • Physics: Electricity and Magnetism
    • Psychology and Sociology: Social Processes and Behavior

    Week 9

    • Biology: Meiosis, Mendel, and Evolution
    • General Chemistry: Electrochemistry and Redox Reactions Part 1
    • Organic Chemistry: Reagents and Reactions Part Two
    • Physics: Circuits
    • Psychology and Sociology: Social Thought Processes

    Week 10

    • General Chemistry: Electrochemistry and Redox Reactions Part 2
    • Organic Chemistry: Separation and Purification
    • Physics: Periodic Motion, Mechanical Waves and Sound
    • Psychology and Sociology: Social Structure and Demographics

    Week 11

    Week 12

    • Psychology and Sociology: Social Stratification
    • Psychology: Intro to Study Design
    • Psychology: Data Interpretation
    • Psychology: Synthesis and Review

    Start each week with a practice test and use the results to self-evaluate and as a basis for modifying your study plan. Use the remaining days or time reviewing content areas that you have specific difficulties with.

    As your test schedule nears, make time to visit the testing center to know the exact location of your room and building, as well as to find your prospective parking spot. This way, you’ll avoid added stress and getting to the testing center late.

    Tips for self-care when studying for the MCAT

    Although your primary goal is to score competitively in the MCAT, don’t forget to practice the following:

    • Eat healthy, balanced meals with the optimum amounts of protein, carbohydrates, good fats, vegetables and fruits
    • Stay hydrated; drink lots of water
    • Get seven to eight hours of sleep every night
    • Do nothing the day before your MCAT; rest, relax
    • Wake up early on the day of the MCAT
    • Eat a good breakfast on the day of the MCAT

    These preparations should help you do well come MCAT test day.

    However, even if you’ve put in the time and effort to prepare, if you don’t feel sufficiently ready for the MCAT, you may want to consider deferring your test. Postponing your MCAT test-taking may be better than taking the test ill-prepared or dissatisfied with your preparations and then retaking it afterward.

    Make sure that as your MCAT schedule nears, you’re feeling confident and ready. If it causes you anxiety, then reconsider taking it. Your state of mind is critical if you are to perform competitively for this very important test.

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