MCAT Study Schedules

These are questions I have heard many times.  It’s a tough one to answer because it is going to be different for every student. There are 2 main things that you have to keep in mind in creating an MCAT study schedule: content & practice.

Content

A proper MCAT study schedule needs time to go over content. This is going to be one of the biggest variables for MCAT takers.  If you just finished a PhD in biochemistry and have a masters degree in psychology, you can probably get away with a couple of weeks of studying.  However, if it’s been years since you have seen any content, you may need to spend a couple months going over material.

That being said, I often see students creating their MCAT study schedule and make the mistake of just studying their areas of weakness without paying any attention to what areas are highest yield.  Every student I meet with, I start with a general breakdown of how many content questions they are likely to see from every category:

Category Number of Questions Percentage of the MCAT*
Biology 44 25%
Psychology 38 22%
Biochemistry 30 17%
General Chemistry 21 12%
Sociology 18 10%
Physics 15 8%
Organic Chemistry 12 7%

*This table only covers areas that you need to review content for.  Critical Analysis and Reading Skills is left out of the calculations.

Let’s say you were trying to create an MCAT study schedule and know that you are weak in Organic Chemistry.  Spending a month covering that topic and never covering any Biology/Biochemistry would be a poor use of time.  So study your weak areas, but make sure to hit the high yield stuff too!

Practice

No student is prepared for the MCAT if they don’t make time in their study schedule for practice.  There are multiple reasons for this.

  1. The MCAT is long. If you are going to keep up your steam for the test, you need to build up stamina.  Realistic practice is the only way to do that.
  1. The passages that are on the MCAT are not the sort of thing that most people read for fun. If you want to get good at it, you must set aside time for practice in your study schedule.  The more passages you read, the easier they are to understand.
  1. MCAT writers are tricky. Their bag of misleading answers seems unending, but it is finite.  With every wrong answer you identify, the better you get at identifying traps that the MCAT writers are setting for you.
  1. Even if you study all of the content on the MCAT, not all of the information is going to stick. Doing practice questions will help guide you to identify your weak areas- the areas that you need to spend a bit more time reviewing.

So when creating your MCAT Study Schedule, make sure that you are creating plenty of time for both content and practice.  You can see some example study schedules here: 1 month12 weeks20 weeks.

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