One-Month MCAT Study Plan
Experts suggest that students take the Medical College Admission Test one year before they plan to enter medical school and begin studying for the MCAT three to six months before their exam date. However, those with work and school commitments that take up most of their time might need a briefer study schedule.
Whereas students who begin studying earlier can pace themselves, you'll need immense dedication, discipline, and focus to cram the recommended 200 to 300 hours of MCAT test prep and study time into a single month. Grad Prep offers personalized study schedules to help you prepare for the MCAT in 4 weeks and achieve the high score you're aiming for.
In this article, you'll find helpful tips on:
- Creating a one-month MCAT study schedule with GradPrep.com
- Studying one week before the MCAT
- What to do one day before the MCAT exam
Planning a One-Month MCAT Study Schedule
Most MCAT test takers try to average at least 10 to 15 hours of studying per week over their four to six months of test prep. To get the same amount of study time in a month, you'll need to review MCAT study materials for 30–40 hours a week. In other words, you'd have to study 5 to 8 hours a day for six days a week.
Decide How Much Study Time to Devote to Each Section
Make efficient use of your limited time by examining your weak spots and prioritizing the MCAT sections and concepts that you struggle with the most. Each test taker measures the MCAT difficulty differently, so start by considering your personal academic strengths and weaknesses and arranging the following exam portions on a scale from easiest to most challenging:
- Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
- Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
- Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
- Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
Depending on how sharp your analytical skills are and how well you grasp the basic principles of biology, chemistry, psychology, and sociology, the order in which you place these sections may vary. If you're unsure, consider taking an MCAT practice exam to see which topics come easiest to you.
Create an MCAT Study Schedule
The next step is to develop a study strategy that ensures you dedicate enough time to reviewing each MCAT section and fits your current work and school schedules. If you stick to the recommended six-day study schedule, you might consider designating two days of the week for the two portions of the exam you find hardest and focusing on the two easier sections for one day each.
As you're planning out your personalized MCAT study schedule on GradPrep.com, be sure to do the following:
- Set Realistic Study Goals: Since you only have a month to prepare, you may feel as if you need to study all day, every day. However, pacing yourself, scheduling breaks, and taking a day off each week can prevent burnout and help with information retention.
- Make Time for Other Important Commitments: Those with work, school, and family responsibilities should incorporate those details into their study schedules. Once you account for those commitments, you can designate some of your remaining hours for MCAT study.
- Adjust Your Schedule as Needed: MCAT exams take place in the morning, so if you're unaccustomed to waking up at this time, schedule your first study sessions earlier in the day. Also, try to find extra room in your schedule so you can review as much material as possible.
Gather Test Prep Materials and Start Studying
Once you decide what to study on which days and for how long, it's time to start your MCAT test prep. Stick to the schedule you created on your Grad Prep account, and use the website's Study Progress Tracker to ensure you review enough material and complete enough practice prompts by test day.
How to Study a Week Before the MCAT
One week before your MCAT test date, you'll want to cut back on your daily exam review and practice tests. Tapering your study schedule at this point is a great way to conserve energy so you can feel focused and relaxed when you arrive to take the MCAT. If possible, reduce your daily study time from a heavy five to eight hours to a light two to three hours the week before your exam.
When Should I Take My Last Practice Test Before the MCAT?
According to most MCAT experts, tutors, and previous test takers, you should take your last full-length MCAT practice test four days before your scheduled exam date. Schedule one day to take your last practice exam, and then take another day or two to review your results and do a few practice passages and a bit of last-minute content review.
How to Study the Day Before the MCAT
Last-minute cramming can be stressful and ineffective, so it's important to avoid heavy studying the day before the MCAT. Instead, focus on double-checking your list of things to bring to the MCAT exam center, and then take time to rest. Relaxing the day before your MCAT exam date is an excellent way to ensure that you're in good mental and physical condition on test day.
Take this time to spend time outdoors, have a relaxing spa day, or do other enjoyable activities that are good for your mind and body. If the thought of not studying at all makes you feel anxious, set aside one hour of your morning to do some basic science content review or go step by step through a practice passage you've already done to solidify your test-taking strategy in your mind.
What to Eat Before the MCAT
Consuming a lot of caffeine, sugar, and processed foods the day before the MCAT can leave you feeling sluggish and uncomfortable during the test. To ensure you stay full, energized, and focused on test day, incorporate more healthy fats, fiber, protein, and complex carbs like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into your diet in the days leading up to your MCAT exam.
On the morning of your exam, wake up early and eat a good breakfast full of these nutritious foods. To maintain your blood sugar levels and keep distracting hunger pangs at bay, you should also pack a healthy lunch and snacks to enjoy during your exam breaks. Bring foods like:
- Protein bars
- Sports drinks
- Carrot sticks
- Trail mix
- Peanut butter crackers
How Much to Sleep the Night Before the MCAT
On the day before the MCAT, you might feel tempted to stay up late and get some last-minute studying done. However, late-night cram sessions can cause test takers to feel tired and unfocused on test day. Aim for the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep to ensure you feel well rested and alert throughout the 7.5-hour MCAT exam.
Get Ready for the MCAT in One Month
Preparing for the MCAT in one month is a challenging task, especially when you have a busy schedule due to job, school, and family obligations. If you have a limited one-month time frame to get ready for your exam, Grad Prep's personalized study plans and four-week MCAT test prep program can help you carve out adequate study time so you can hit your target score.