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Whether you’re pursuing a medical or other pre-health career such as pharmacy, dentistry, or optometry, we’ve got you covered on admissions and prep for the MCAT, PCAT, DAT, and OAT. Setting up a good study schedule is half the battle when it comes to balancing MCAT prep with other obligations. The first step to any MCAT prep plan is gauging how much time you have to study up until Test Day. Keep in mind that effective studying occurs over large chunks of time—several hours at a time—and that you might even need additional time to “get in the mood” for studying.
For those of you who are full-time students, it will come as no surprise that school will be a major time commitment that you will have to balance with studying for the MCAT.
It may not seem like much, but put together, these strategies can add up over the course of weeks to give you the solid preparation you need. Jobs, research, volunteer work, and other non-academic obligations are something you inevitably deal with, whether you’re a student or not. If you’re a student looking for part-time work, try taking a job in a library, at an IT helpdesk, or as a tutor in one of the hard sciences like biology, physics, or chemistry. If you are conducting research, it may be worth mentioning to your PI (especially if they are an MD or DO) that you are studying for the MCAT. If you are working full-time or on a schedule that isn’t very flexible, you will need to fit your studying into your time off.
The more obligations you have to balance, the more important it becomes to use a calendar to organize your time.
Sign up for one of Kaplan’s MCAT prep course options, where you can find out your strengths and weaknesses through our adaptive learning technology, Smart Reports, and get our Higher Score Guarantee. Kevin Yang is a second year DO student with an interest in emergency medicine and its related fields.
He currently serves as an MCAT Mentor for students in the Kaplan Advantage Plus course and advises them on study strategies and test prep advice.
When not busy with school or work, he enjoys biking, writing, thrifting, video games, and internet trivia. I realize that with so much to cover on the MCAT it’s overwhelming, and having a definite ‘number’ potential makes the task less daunting. If you google this question you’ll come across some ‘very helpful’ articles suggesting you should plan to invest just 3 months or 300 hours.
However, given that the new MCAT is both longer and covers more topics than the old exam,  you’ll find that preparing for the new test will require a larger investment of time. Of course every student is unique, and so the length and method of studying must also be unique. In fact, I’ve outlined the different types of students I frequently encounter as an MCAT tutor and assigned each a different length of study. I have worked with hundreds of students since the new exam’s introduction in 2015, analyzing their study habits, schedules, and progress from Baseline Full Length to final MCAT score. This is assuming you’ve taken college level courses on nearly every subject, even if you’ve forgotten it all. The first step to figuring out how many months is to determine how many hours you can devote to MCAT prep on a daily and weekly basis. In coming up with the 500 hour estimate I took these unexpected study interruptions into account by assigning each month exactly 4 weeks or 28 days. I realize that many students preparing for the MCAT have not taken AT LEAST one of the required topics and will be self-studying. The more courses you have to self-study, the more time you’ll want to add on for learning this material from scratch.
If you’re a student who is out of school and quit your job so that you can focus 100% of your time on MCAT prep, you’ll have to view MCAT prep as a full time job.
Allow time for working out in the mornings, hanging out with friends or relaxing by yourself 1-2 nights a week, and most definitely getting a full night’s rest. I also recommend getting a volunteering or shadowing position for a few hours a day once a week. Every time she leaves that clinic she is determined to work hard and reach her goal so that one day, SHE can be a leader in her community teaching people HOW to take care of themselves before a minor illness turns into an emergency.


40 hours per week at 7 study hours per day for 6 days, or 8 study hours per day for 5 days a week, that’s a full time job.
At 40 hours per week it will take you approximately 12.5 weeks or just over 3 months to prepare for the MCAT. Sometimes taking a study break is MORE IMPORTANT than cramming in a few more hours of information.
If you feel that 3 months studying 40 hours per week is too intense, but still desire to treat MCAT prep as a full-time occupation, I recommend devoting 30 hours per week.
This can be broken down anywhere from 4.5 daily hours for 7 days, 5 daily hours over 6 days, or even 6 daily hours for just 5 days. This type of schedule leaves you time for taking care of a family, working a part-time job, or taking a couple college courses. This of course assumes that you are making regular progress and improving on your full length exams as needed.
I recommend devoting 20 MCAT study hours per week if you’re juggling a full-time but non-strenuous job, a regular semester schedule, or a family that requires lots of time and attention, especially those with little kids. Many 30-hour per week students wind up falling into this category as work and life sometimes gets the better of their schedule.
Many students prepare for the MCAT while juggling at least 2 full-time demands including negotiating school work and family.
This gets tricky during the final weeks of your prep when you’re required to take a weekly 7.5 hour exam AND review.
If you currently find you can devote LESS THAN 15 hours per week I challenge you to evaluate your schedule and decide what you can cut to free up some more time. I realize that what I’m asking may sound unreasonable, but let’s be realistic for a moment. If you can’t consistently carve out 15 hours per week for MCAT prep, how will you figure out how to devote that amount of time (and more!) as a medical student? So when you think about your MCAT study timeline, consider how much time you’ll need in terms of the number of months you’ll need to prepare, AND  also the number of hours you’re able to commit AND STICK TO on a weekly basis. Hey Leah, I like this program being broken down into chunks but was wondering what you thought would be best…I have been trying to do the 40 hours a week schedule. My problem is sometimes I begin to hop around when I study and feel completely disorganized (which I feel could be affecting my performance). With 3.5 months to study (40 hours per week schedule), how long should Phase 1, 2 and 3 be ideally? So I am set on taking my MCAT Aug 25th, and am starting to study May 16th after finals in which I will ONLY be studying. Right now, I’m doing about 15-16 hrs a week because of classes,volunteering, and work. Alkene Reactions Overview Cheat Sheet – Organic ChemistryThe true key to successful mastery of alkene reactions lies in practice practice practice. Whether you’re rescheduling your MCAT exam or simply planning ahead for a Test Day in June, July, or August, read on and find out how to optimize your summer MCAT prep with helpful study tips and insights. It’s well known—at least among MCAT prep and medical school admissions experts—that completing the AMCAS application as early as possible will benefit you in the long run.
Although the AMCAS application can submitted without MCAT scores, medical schools will only review an application once it is complete. If you took the text this past month or are planning to take it in May, take note: the AAMC has informed us that spring test scores will take longer than the traditional turnaround period. As a result, your application timeline may be delayed, which is an important factor to consider for your MCAT prep and when deciding whether to apply during the upcoming cycle or if it would be best to wait until the following summer to put your AMCAS application together. Surprisingly, many students have trouble organizing such large blocks of time—the relative lack of urgency makes it easy to put off studying until it’s too late. Ideally, you should have a solid, uninterrupted block of several hours each day to devote to MCAT prep. If you underestimate it or go into Test Day without adequate preparation, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
Google Calendar is one efficient way to manage your schedule, and it will also simplify your life by syncing to multiple devices and sending you reminders about your daily events.


You may also want to fit an MCAT prep course into your overall study schedule to help you learn in a classroom setting, online, or with a private instructor.
Even if you manage to incorporate some of these practices into your life during your MCAT prep, remember that something is better than nothing. The first two positions often have stretches of time where you may be able to study for the MCAT, and the last option will help you internalize information as you teach it—often a very successful method of review. It may not be easy, but keep in mind that you’re likely to be following a similarly (if not more so) hectic schedule in medical school, so—harsh as it might sound—you might as well get used to it. Other MCAT prep hacks involve taking a short nap after work to refresh your mental stamina and creating suitable blocks of time—we recommend three to four hours every day—to study rather than going for broke on weekends. He has been working for Kaplan for nearly three years, both teaching and tutoring the MCAT and SAT.
Students looking ahead to their exam date want to know how many months they should set aside in preparation for the MCAT. For the average student, the 500 hour number appears to be a solid target number for achieving a successful score.
Those remaining 2-3 days will allow you to handle emergencies and any catching up without freaking out. She is reminded on a weekly basis exactly what happens to people’s health when preventative health education and affordable medical care are lacking in communities. Sometimes the extra time between practice exams is critical for allowing your brain to ‘catch up’ and keep up. Perhaps you can cut back on your work hours, take fewer classes during the upcoming semester, or find a babysitter to look after the kids while you sneak away for a few hours of solid study time. By the time she finishes chapter 1 in each of the 7 sciences, it’ll be a month later with dozens of chapters still to go. The discipline you learn while preparing for the MCAT will only help you to prepare for your demanding medical school curriculum. For example, if you’ve already finished 50% of content my answer would be very different compared to just starting out. It is the most accurate and authentic source for test prep that gives you innumerable test questions to practice with. The application is available at the beginning of May and can be submitted in the beginning of June. Due to the turnaround time for scores, taking a summer exam means that your AMCAS application will not be complete with scores when submissions open in June. Without school to worry about, pre-meds spend their summers taking additional college classes, exploring different hobbies, or simply relaxing.
Depending on how fast you can understand new material and how much time you need for review before it stays in your head, you could be looking at a month or two of work.
Kaplan recommends that you do two exams a week throughout your MCAT prep course; however, you can adjust this based your speed and time available—you want to have a good idea of how you’ll do before you go in on Test Day. You want to be fully prepared to knock the MCAT out of the park in one shot and not have to worry about it ever again. If so, keep in mind that you will also have to balance that time commitment with the rest of your prep. Through innovative technology and a personalized approach to learning, we’ll equip you with the test insights and advice you need to achieve your personal best. Saying no to family and friends has been such a struggle as well and although I know that they understand, I feel like I’m letting them down.
After that, it will take approximately two to three weeks for the AMCAS application to be processed and verified before being sent to your medical schools of choice. Keeping up with your MCAT prep study schedule will require a substantial amount of time, so factor this in before you make summer plans.
The biggest challenge may be studying in the evening when you would normally be relaxing (trust me, you’ll get used to this in medical school).



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