One of the major factors essential to achievement in any field is planning. And the same thing applies when preparing for the MCAT. It is true that some students are capable of breezing through the MCAT exam and earning an excellent score without studying much beforehand. Nevertheless, most students require a structured MCAT study schedule to maximize their studying and ensure a solid performance on test day.
Considering that it is such an important preparation tool, an MCAT study schedule must be personalized to suit your specific circumstances. Therefore, designing your own MCAT study schedule requires careful thought and assessment on your part. So, follow along with these steps to help guide you through the planning process:
Consider your undergraduate training or the amount of time that has passed since you graduated from undergraduate school. If you do not have a strong science background, then your study schedule should certainly start with an in-depth science review. If you do have a strong science background, then your study schedule should start with a review of material that applies to the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (MCAT CARS) section. In other words, your study schedule should start with you addressing your weaknesses.
This step touches on step 1 as well. Once you determine your strengths and weaknesses, you should go through and prioritize each MCAT subject accordingly. For instance, if you consider Organic Chemistry your hardest subject, then designate it as your number one priority. If Physics comes easy to you, then designate it as your last priority--but a priority nonetheless!
Look to your grades for direction in completing this step, as they are a good starting point for determining the amount of time you need to study. Students with a science background who earned an A in all of their science courses may only need three months or less to prepare for the MCAT. On the other hand, students without a science background or those who have not studied the sciences recently, would need to allow up to six months to prepare.
Schedule a minimum of three hours of study time each day. If you cannot fit MCAT study time in everyday at least strive for every other day. In which case, you should increase the number of hours you spend studying on those days. Select your top two priority subjects and plot them into your schedule for two days a week. Make sure you spend two-thirds of all your study time reviewing your top priority (most difficult) subject. And no later than one month prior to your test day, take one to two MCAT practice tests each week.
Once you get a ways into your study schedule, you may feel like you do not need to study anymore. On the contrary, it is highly important that you stick to your schedule and review material often. It is also very important that you review material from earlier in your schedule as well as the questions you miss on practice exams.
For more tips on developing your study plan, click here: MCAT study schedule.