Studying for the MCAT

Woman sitting at a table with books and laptop studying for the MCAT exam.

MCAT Study Schedule

How to Study for the MCAT

Preparing for the MCAT is a challenge, but knowing how much time you need to prepare and developing a study schedule can make it a little easier. With the right groundwork, planning, and time management skills, you can create a winning strategy to prepare for the exam and get your best possible score on the MCAT.

Know Your Habits

When Will Studying for the MCAT Fit Best in Your Life?

Everyone is different, so the most effective study method depends on your preferences and daily schedule. Some people prefer reviewing material for an hour before heading off to work, while others like to set aside a few hours after dinner every night to review previous practice exams.

However you study best, tailoring your study plan to your learning style and daily life is key. You'll need to focus and concentrate when going over your MCAT prep materials, so choose a part of your day when you don't feel mentally fatigued.

If a heavy course load or long hours at work leave you exhausted, studying either before or during lunch breaks could be beneficial.

Choose a Timeframe

How Long Should You Study for the MCAT?

Figuring out how long to study for the MCAT can be tricky. Some experts suggest beginning your schedule at least 6 months prior to taking this rigorous exam.

Determining how many hours to study for the MCAT can also help you create your study schedule. Most test-takers aim for 200-300 hours of study time, averaging 10-15 hours over at least 4 to 6 months.

Develop a Strategy

Map Out Your MCAT Study Needs

Everyone has their own unique schedule, preferences, and responsibilities, so there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to study plans. For those without work or school commitments, studying 5 hours a day for the MCAT on a 3 month study schedule might be ideal.

When developing your own schedule, being aware of the amount of time you should devote to reading and studying is critical. As you're planning, take an MCAT practice exam to which sections you'll need to prioritize.

If you need to cover a lot of material as well as full course load or work commitments, you may have to dedicate your weekends to accomodate a 6 month MCAT study schedule. The following timetable can help you create a reasonable yet effective weekend study plan:

    • 6:00AM - 7:30AM: Wake up, shower, and get ready for the day. Engage in a light workout and have a healthy breakfast to get your mind and body properly fueled.

    • 7:30AM – 11AM: Study for the MCAT by reviewing practice questions, reading passages, looking over a previous test, or brushing up on less familiar subjects.

    • 11AM – 1PM: Take a break and use this time to relax, have lunch, return texts and phone calls, or check out your social media.

    • 1PM – 4PM: Finish studying materials from your first round of MCAT prep time or move on to answering questions from specific sections of the exam.

    • 4PM – 6PM: Disengage and recharge, have dinner, watch a show, or stretch your limbs with a little yoga practice.

    • 6PM – 8PM: Review the material you've covered during the day, note down any areas of difficulty, and organize your MCAT prep resources for tomorrow's session.

  • 8PM – 10PM Step away from your desk and de-stress. Treat yourself and do whatever you find most relaxing whether that's watching a movie, reading, or spending time with friends, and get at least 8 hours sleep.

Personalize Your Plan

Creating Your Own Best Way to Study for the MCAT

This MCAT study schedule template is a good place to start, but it won't work for everyone. Use it as a guide and create a personal plan by focusing on troublesome subjects and being realistic about your time and commitments.

Whether you set an MCAT study schedule for 4 months or a full year, dedicating time every week to exam preparation is a smart way to earn a good score. However, be sure to give yourself extra time for unexpected events to avoid disrupting your long-term plan.

If you need resources to help you stay on track, GradPrep offers a variety of services to help with MCAT preparation. You can find individual practice tests, skills practice questions, detailed answer explanations, and even a progress tracker to ensure that you will be ready on exam day.

Study Resources

Online MCAT Test Prep

Exam Registration

MCAT Sections

MCAT Scoring