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How to revise for MCAT

Last Updated on July 31, 2023 by Oluwajuwon Alvina

You’ve known you want to be a doctor for a long time, and have been studying for years with an eye on practicing medicine. Your decision is made and now it’s time to prepare for your Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). Like most pre-medical students, you have heard about the difficulty and significance of the test, and you may be wondering how to start studying for the MCAT.

Read study tips and approaches used by students who performed well on the MCAT exam. Featured students share study schedules, strategies, and do’s and don’ts that helped them prepare and perform well on the exam. 

There’s no right or wrong way to approach MCAT prep. If you spend ample time preparing, getting a competitive score is within your reach, says Julio Sierra III, Associate Director of Admissions, Eastern U.S. and Puerto Rico for American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine. Sierra, who reviews applications and extends admission offers to hundreds of students annually, recently shared several tips on how to prepare for the MCAT:

Introduction to building a great MCAT study schedule
You’ve probably heard stories about premed students who went to well-respected colleges, had extensive clinical and volunteer experiences, worked in the same lab for multiple years, and achieved a 3.9 GPA, but were still rejected from every medical school that they applied to. Odds are, these students had less than stellar MCAT scores, one of the most important factors admissions committees consider when evaluating applications.

If you think of medical school admission as a tiered evaluation process, the MCAT falls in the top tier of what admissions committees look at when they evaluate an applicant, in addition to your GPA and personal statement.

Why do admissions committees care so much about the MCAT? The MCAT is an attempt to compare students who come from a broad range of backgrounds, majors, regions, undergraduate institutions, and much more.

For example, let’s say that a Stanford student and a student from a small state school have the same application, but the Stanford student scored a 505 on the MCAT while the small state school student scored a 518. The small state school student proved a high science and critical thinking aptitude, and admissions committees will likely choose the small state school student, despite the differences in the undergraduate reputation.

Here’s the bottom line: lots of otherwise qualified students don’t get into medical school because of a low MCAT score. What’s more, a large number of these low MCAT scorers didn’t dedicate sufficient time to developing a study schedule because they weren’t “ready to completely start studying” or were “just getting started in the process.”

Creating a study schedule is the single most important piece of the MCAT puzzle that you will complete at the beginning of your test prep as it serves as a roadmap, friend, and accountability tracker throughout your entire MCAT journey. Students who are thoughtful and spend the time upfront creating a solid study schedule tend to perform much better on the MCAT.

Don’t be afraid to spend a few hours designing your MCAT study schedule—it will pay off in the long run when you crush the MCAT and get that acceptance call from your dream medical school. Let’s dive into what this guide covers and how to make an MCAT study schedule!

What this MCAT study schedule guide covers
To help you sit down and write out your own MCAT study schedule, we’ve developed a comprehensive guide that will help you achieve a 520+ score and get into medical school.

This guide will cover the following:

A step-by-step guide to building your own study schedule, which includes choosing a test date and mapping out each week until your exam

Answers to frequently asked questions about the MCAT study schedule

Example study schedules (1-month, 2-month, and 3-month MCAT study plans)

After reading through this guide, you’ll have all of the information needed to build yourself an effective study schedule that helps you achieve a high score on the MCAT.

Let’s get started!


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Part 1: A step-by-step approach to building an MCAT study schedule
Step 1. Choosing an MCAT test date

In order to build your MCAT study schedule, you’ll want to select a test date.

This is not often an easy question to answer, so there are a few questions you should ask yourself before selecting a test date.

When are you planning on applying to medical school?

Have you taken the classes absolutely needed for the MCAT? These classes include general chemistry, one semester of organic chemistry and physics, and introductory biology. (Note: there are medical school prerequisites)

What are the other time commitments you will have during the period you plan on studying for the MCAT? MCAT preparation is time consuming. You should be honest and realistic with yourself when determining your time commitments.

To assess your time, try this simple exercise.

1) Select your test date.

2) Write out every other time commitment you will have between now and your test date. These should include:

a. School and school studying time

b. Work

c. Volunteering

d. Class

e. Personal time

f. Holidays

3) Write out the average amount of time you will be able to study for the MCAT each week.

You should aim to study for at least 300 hours for the exam. In other words, if you study for 3 months (~90 days), you should average a little over 3 hours each day.

Be sure to select your test date carefully. Your study schedule will be constructed around this date.

(Suggested reading: When Should You Take the MCAT? The Ideal Timeline)

How many hours should I spend studying for the MCAT?
In general, you should spend at least 300-350 total hours studying for the MCAT. This includes content review, taking practice tests, reviewing the practice tests, and studying what you miss. The number of hours may slightly vary based on how long it has been since you completed the courses, your major, and/or your comfort with certain topics.

Step 2. Building the MCAT study schedule: content phase

Let’s now look at the anatomy of an MCAT study schedule. You can think of an MCAT study schedule as two distinct phases. The first phase is content heavy with a little bit of practice. This means 70% of your time should be spent studying content while 30% should be practice-based. The second phase of studying is practice-heavy with a little bit of content. During this phase, the numbers flip and you should focus on 70% practice and 30% content.

To split your study schedule into these phases, count the number of weeks you will spend studying for the exam. Are you studying for 4 weeks? 8 weeks? 12 weeks? 16 weeks?

If you are planning on spending 12 weeks studying for the exam, you should use 6 weeks for the mostly-content phase and 6 weeks for the mostly-practice phase.

How many months should I spend studying for the MCAT?
12 weeks, or 3 months, is generally sufficient time to spend studying for the MCAT at about 20 hours per week. This can be compressed or extended based on your schedule.

To begin building the content phase, write down the name of each chapter from your content review books in an Excel or Google Sheets page. Next, count the total number of chapters that you will need to complete. In general, most content books will have about 9-12 chapters per subject, which includes biochemistry, biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, and psychology and sociology.

If you have 12 weeks to study, aim to finish your content review in 6-8 weeks, which breaks down to between 7 and 10 chapters per week, or at least 1 chapter per day. Many students are surprised when they complete this exercise—there is a lot of content to go through!

Don’t fear, though. Not all of the content is important or high yield. For example, you are much better off spending time on biochemistry instead of physics, so you can put one biochemistry chapter on a Monday and take a deep dive into it while going more quickly through three physics chapters on Tuesday.

Here is an example of a study schedule showing a sample first 6 weeks of content mapped out:

mcat study schedule Template (3 months): Content phase (WITHOUT CARS)
MCAT STUDY SCHEDULE TEMPLATE (3 MONTHS): CONTENT PHASE (WITHOUT CARS)

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD A PDF VERSION OF OUR 3-MONTH MCAT STUDY SCHEDULE TEMPLATE: CONTENT PHASE (WITHOUT CARS)
This study schedule can be adapted for any set of MCAT prep books. Each book is shown by the color code at the top of the study schedule.

Let’s notice a few important features of this study schedule:

The study schedule goes through the books in parallel instead of one book at a time (i.e. first week biochemistry, second week physics, etc.). The benefit of working in parallel is that you won’t forget the subject that you studied at the very beginning.

This study schedule is based on a student studying part-time with 2-3 hours free per day, and some additional time on a Friday available to take a full-length exam. In other words, this is a manageable schedule if you have other time commitments.

The student finishes all of the content AND takes 2 full-length practice exams during this content-heavy phase. We cannot overstate the importance of these early practice exams, which make up the 30% practice in this phase. Taking practice exams early on is extremely important in showing you what content you should focus on and the depth to which you need to know it. Instead of memorizing very small details, you will find that the full-lengths tend to test your ability to reason through experiments or look at figures and graphs.

There are checkboxes at the end of each slot so that you can hold yourself accountable. Try to work an accountability tool into your own schedule.

Sunday is built in as a flexibility day here, but it can be whatever day works best for you. Take this day to recharge or catch up on small amounts of content that you were not able to get to during the week.

This content phase of the study schedule looks great! Something is missing, though. Can you guess what it is?

CARS is missing from this study schedule, and CARS will make up 1/4th of your final score. For Canadian medical schools, CARS is one of the main scores that admissions committees will look at. So, let’s adapt our study schedule to include CARS:

mcat study schedule Template (3 months): Content phase (WITH CARS)
MCAT STUDY SCHEDULE TEMPLATE (3 MONTHS): CONTENT PHASE (WITH CARS)

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD A PDF VERSION OF OUR 3-MONTH MCAT STUDY SCHEDULE TEMPLATE: CONTENT PHASE (WITH CARS)
Now, notice that you will be completing 1-2 CARS passages per day. Make these passages count as taking passages followed by careful analysis is one of the best ways to improve your CARS score.

This is an example of a solid mostly-content phase that will set you up nicely to begin your mostly-practice phase. Let’s take a deeper look at our next phase.

Step 3. Building the MCAT study schedule: practice phase

You are now mapping out the second phase of your MCAT studying journey. The mostly-practice phase will be 70% practice and 30% content, and the content that you review will be chosen based on what you find yourself missing in practice. For example, if you find yourself missing optics questions, go back and review the optics books chapter or watch the optics Khan Academy videos.

To build the practice phase of our test schedule, we want to work back from test day. Remember: at a bare minimum, you should work through all of the AAMC resources at least once.

When you take MCAT practice questions during this phase, it is not enough to simply take the practice passage, skim over the answer choice explanations, and move on. Rather, you need to understand why you missed the question, write it down, and study it later on. You should approach each new full-length with new information, or you won’t see an improvement in your score.

Here’s an example of what the practice phase of the study schedule we designed earlier might look like:

mcat study schedule Template (3 months): PRACTICE phase)
MCAT STUDY SCHEDULE TEMPLATE (3 MONTHS): PRACTICE PHASE)

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD A PDF VERSION OF OUR 3-MONTH MCAT STUDY SCHEDULE TEMPLATE: PRACTICE PHASE
As you read through this, you might wonder what MQL stands for. MQL stands for “Missed Questions Log,” and this is the personal document or excel sheet you use to track every single question you’ve missed throughout the course of your MCAT studying. The MQL should include enough information for you to get the question right the next time around.

For example, let’s say you miss the following question:

What type of enzyme is a kinase?

a) Ligase

b) Oxidoreductase

c) Transferase

d) Lyase

The answer is transferase, but let’s say you selected lyase. You should write down the definition of each answer choice that you don’t know in your MQL. Then, when it says to study the Bio/Biochem (B/B) MQL on your study guide, you will come back and memorize the definitions of these different enzyme classes.

Should I sign up for multiple MCAT test dates?
You are better off being extremely prepared to take the exam the first time around instead of relying on retaking the MCAT. As a safety valve, however, you can book a second exam to make sure that you will still have a testing seat and can always cancel it if necessary (the AAMC has specific refund policies, though).

Admissions committees will also expect to see a strong score increase on your second exam, not a small score increase that might just be the result of you taking the test a second time.
Let’s look at the important features of the practice-phase study schedule:

A flexibility day is built in every Sunday after the student takes a full-length exam. This is a great time to destress after taking a 7-hour exam.

A lot of time is built in for reviewing the practice you take and studying what you miss. It is not worth your time to take a lot of practice if you are not learning from your mistakes!

This schedule can be completed by spending an average of around 2-3 hours per day studying.

The week leading up to your exam, you should review your strong content areas since you likely haven’t looked at them in a while. For example, remember to review amino acids so that they are fresh on your mind.

You will bump up your CARS practice to 3-4 passages per day, and these can come from the AAMC CARS Question Packs 1 and 2, which contain 120 questions each.

How many full-length practice exams do I need to take before taking the MCAT?
At an absolute minimum, you should take the five AAMC full-length practice exams in addition to all of the AAMC practice resources. In most cases, a diagnostic exam plus two to three more full-lengths from a test prep company is sufficient, in addition to the AAMC materials. If you are studying over a prolonged period of time, it is not uncommon for students to take over ten full-length exams. However, taking additional exams will not help you significantly if you are not spending a lot of time reviewing these exams and studying the information that you miss.

Step 4. Refine your MCAT study schedule

Many students are fearful of changing their schedule after they have made it. The point of a study schedule is to guide you through the studying process—it is not law.

Refining your study schedule as you work through studying for a test like the MCAT is not only common, but it is often necessary and highly encouraged. Unexpected time commitments will inevitably arise, and you will have to shift some of your MCAT studying pieces around. Don’t be scared to do this!

It is a lot easier to shift your pieces around if you build in flexibility from the start, so don’t discount the importance of a flexibility day or a couple of flexibility weeks (instead of the days) before your test date. Flexibility days can be filled with work you didn’t get to during the week, but you should also try to use them as a time to relax, destress, and recharge for another week of MCAT studying.


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Part 2: MCAT study schedule templates
1-month MCAT study schedule

2-month MCAT study schedule

3-month MCAT study schedule

6-month MCAT study schedule


1-month MCAT study schedule
If you have one month to study for the MCAT, you know that you have no time to waste. It is possible to study on this short timeline if you have seven to eight hours every day to devote exclusively to MCAT studying.

As you look through this study schedule, you will notice that some content is sacrificed in favor of practice. While reviewing content is helpful, practice is much more valuable if you want to see a meaningful increase in your score because deliberate practice shows you exactly how the AAMC will ask you questions and pinpoints content weaknesses that you can review.

mcat study schedule Template (1 month)
MCAT STUDY SCHEDULE TEMPLATE (1 MONTH)

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD A PDF VERSION OF OUR 1-MONTH MCAT STUDY SCHEDULE TEMPLATE
To successfully prep for the MCAT in one month, you’ll need to quickly identify your opportunities for greatest improvement and master the strategies to target your weaknesses.

Our Select Plan (10 hours of live tutoring) for 1:1 MCAT tutoring can help you do just that. During this 4-week period, we will:

Administer our proprietary diagnostic exam to identify your specific strengths and weaknesses and create a customized day-to-day schedule based on your current time commitments, previous MCAT experience, and available resources to maximize every hour between now and your exam date.

Analyze your current strategy and identify the most high-yield areas for improvement.

Emphasize “need-to-know” content in anticipation of your test date.

Help you eliminate your bad habits—especially the ones you don’t know you have—while doubling down on what’s working for you in the short time remaining.

Some students mistakenly believe that there is too little time remaining to take a new approach to their MCAT prep. And while the best time to get good help was yesterday, today is the next best.

MCAT Select Plan (10 Hours)
1:1 Private Tutoring
Individualized Study Schedule
Content Tutoring

Strategy Tutoring

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE THE SELECT PLAN

2-month MCAT study schedule
Remember: the fewer days you have before the MCAT, the more study time you will need to spend per day. If you have two months to study for the MCAT, we recommend studying 5-6 hours per day.

With two months of prep time, you can devote much more study time to test content, though you’ll still want to prioritize test strategy, as strategy will likely have a greater influence on your score.

mcat study schedule Template (2 monthS)
MCAT STUDY SCHEDULE TEMPLATE (2 MONTHS)

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD A PDF VERSION OF OUR 2-MONTH MCAT STUDY SCHEDULE TEMPLATE
If you have two months to study for the MCAT, we recommend signing up for our Superior Plan, which includes 25 hours of customized, 1:1 MCAT tutoring, as well as all of the prep materials you will need (e.g., Kaplan books, AAMC exams) to be successful.

During this 8-week period, we will:

Study your diagnostic exam results to create an individualized day-to-day schedule that works around your schedule—school, work, extracurriculars—while building in sufficient MCAT prep for you to succeed on the exam.

Help you master the high-yield content that you’ll need to know for the exam, splitting lessons into targeted content coaching and strategy refinement. That way, you’ll focus on the areas that come up most, rather than those that barely move the needle.

Develop (or refine) a strategy that works for you when it comes to understanding passages, combining passage knowledge with your outside knowledge, and eliminating trap answer choices that the AAMC loves to throw at you.

While you have more breathing room with 2 months of prep time vs. say, 1 month, it’s still time to get serious because your exam date will be here before you know it. By consistently studying the right material several hours a day, you can avoid last-minute, minimally effective cramming.

MCAT Superior Plan (25 Hours)
1:1 Private Tutoring
Individualized Study Schedule
Content Tutoring
Strategy Tutoring
Score Increase Guarantee
Study Materials
AAMC Practice Exams

Tablet for Video Sessions

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE THE SUPERIOR PLAN

3-month MCAT study schedule
If you have 3 months to study for the MCAT, you’re in a highly favorable position because you can thoroughly address content and strategy deficiencies without needing to devote full days to MCAT prep to receive maximum benefit. With this timeframe, we recommend studying for about 3 hours per day.

mcat study schedule Template (3 monthS)
MCAT STUDY SCHEDULE TEMPLATE (3 MONTHS)

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD A PDF VERSION OF OUR 3-MONTH MCAT STUDY SCHEDULE TEMPLATE
With 3 months of prep time, you will benefit most from our Superior+ Plan (40 hours of live tutoring) for individualized, 1:1 MCAT tutoring. The Superior+ Plan is most popular among our students and includes all the materials you will need (e.g., Kaplan books, AAMC exams) for successful prep.

During your 12-week study period, we will:

Administer and review the results of your diagnostic exam to create a customized day-to-day schedule that will systematize your prep over the next three months. That way, you don’t have to think about what to focus on each day.

Review content that you most struggle with, especially the high-yield content areas that the MCAT question writers love to test you on.

Develop a strategy from scratch to help you answer more questions right while building your confidence to succeed on the exam.

A 3- or 4-month study schedule is great because it allows you to comprehensively prepare for the MCAT, with respect to test content and strategy. Moreover, you’re less likely to burn out because you can effectively space out your work. That said, 3 months is not that much time, so consistency and accountability will be hugely important to maximize your prep.

MCAT Superior+ Plan (40 Hours)
1:1 Private Tutoring
Individualized Study Schedule
Content Tutoring
Strategy Tutoring
Score Increase Guarantee
Study Materials
AAMC Practice Exams

Tablet for Video Sessions

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE THE SUPERIOR+ PLAN

6-month MCAT study schedule
With 6 months to study, you can comfortably prepare for the MCAT while balancing your academic, extracurricular, and personal commitments. 6 months of prep time would be ideal for you if you want to build up your content knowledge base before diving into practice tests and develop a high-yield strategy from the ground up.

mcat study schedule Template (6 monthS)
MCAT STUDY SCHEDULE TEMPLATE (6 MONTHS)

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD A PDF VERSION OF OUR 6-MONTH MCAT STUDY SCHEDULE TEMPLATE
If you have six months to study for the MCAT, our Top Scorer Plan (60 hours of live tutoring) for 1:1 MCAT tutoring will help ensure that you leave no stone unturned. During these 6 months, we will help you:

Create a customized day-to-day schedule based on results from our proprietary diagnostic exam that incorporates work, school, volunteer, life, holiday, and relaxation, so you know exactly what to focus on each time you sit down to study.

Learn all of the MCAT content that you need to know, including the most frequently tested content areas that will yield the largest score increases.

Develop an empirically-based and highly-refined strategy over the course of your content review phase so that you hit the practice phase ready to dominate your exam.

The highest-achieving students understand the importance of planning ahead. With 6 months of time to prepare for the MCAT, you can avoid much of the stress associated with cramming and maximize your results. By incorporating consistent practice into your routine, you can achieve true mastery and go into the MCAT with confidence. However, we want to warn you to not get too comfortable with your prep time, because the MCAT tends to sneak up on students. Even with 6 months, consistency and accountability are key to achieve your best score.

MCAT Top Scorer Plan (60 Hours)
1:1 Private Tutoring
Individualized Study Schedule
Content Tutoring
Strategy Tutoring
Score Increase Guarantee
Study Materials
AAMC Practice Exams
Tablet for Video Sessions

HOW TO STUDY FOR THE MCAT: 7 TIPS AND TRICKS TO ACE THE EXAM

The MCAT is one of the toughest obstacles you have to overcome to get into your dream medical school. Tough as it may seem, but it is easier to beat than you can imagine. With a tremendous amount of effort and commitment, you will get a high score. 

If you’re looking for tips on how to prepare for the MCAT, we got you covered! Today, we look at 7 MCAT studying tips and tricks that will help you ace the exam. Let’s begin.

1.   Create an effective study plan

Having a schedule that is suitable for you is one of the most important aspects of your MCAT preparation. The best way to study for MCAT is to prepare without sacrificing your other responsibilities. Because if you do, you won’t be 100% focused on your studies. You will always be thinking about other important things you need to take care of. 

The length of your MCAT prep depends on how many hours you can study per week. Some students have other commitments like a job or extracurricular activities, while others have a lot of time to stay at home and study all day. Your other daily activities play a major role in setting up an effective study plan. 

What are some study plans that you can follow? 

If you can afford to stay at home and study for MCAT all day, a 3-month study plan is ideal for you. If you have a job and can balance your time well, 4-6 months of preparation should be enough. If you are a busy student with lots of other commitments and spends a lot of time working, 8 months is an ideal length. 

The bottom line is, you have to be aware of how many hours a week you can spend studying for the exam. Doing so can make or break your performance on the test day.

2.   Take multiple practice tests

Another tip on how to study for the MCAT effectively is taking practice tests on a regular basis. The MCAT is a 7+ hour-long exam. It is lengthy, so it is best to take practice tests early in your prep. Taking it on a regular basis will help you familiarize the questions. The best way to study for the MCAT is by taking a practice test bi-weekly or once a month. 

There are a lot of free practice tests available online. These tests are great for your first month of studying, helping you familiarize the nature of the questions and concepts covered on the test.

After the first month of your prep, however, you would want to invest in full-length, premium practice tests that have questions that are relatively close to the actual admissions exam. In taking the best MCAT practice tests, it is a great idea to time yourself. This way, you will get used to the time pressure, something that the MCAT is sure to bring on the day of the test. 

3.   Use practice questions for content review

Students often wonder if they should focus more on content review than answer practice questions. The thing is, you can review content and practice at the same time by using those same practice questions for content review. 

To score high on the MCAT, it’s best that you have a good mix of content review and familiarity with the actual test. 

It’s highly recommended that you spend a lot of time on practice questions and just a little on content review. The latter will help improve your performance accuracy and efficiency during the actual admissions exam. This is why you can’t exclude it when preparing for the MCAT. 

The advantage of answering practice questions on your content review is that it will help you see what you’re missing out. Using practice questions during the content review will help you ensure that the concepts you are studying are actually asked on the MCAT. 

4.   Use high-quality prep instruction and materials

In preparing for the MCAT, quality is better than quantity. Even if you’re spending countless hours on review and practicing thousands of questions, if the quality of your instruction and materials are not that good, then you’re not reaching your potential. 

If you’re aiming for a very high score, chances are you’re taking MCAT classes or a prep course. If that’s the case, you should look for these qualities in your prep course:

  • High-quality instruction, through videos or live instructions
  • Provides full-length practice tests
  • User-friendly interface or app
  • Uses analytic tools
  • Score guarantee (recommended)

5.   Avoid overloading yourself

Most of the students studying for the MCAT are undergraduate students taking up a pre-med program. If that’s the case for you, it is important for you to not overload yourself by taking too many classes. 

If possible, try to lighten the workload in your undergraduate classes. This way, you will be able to spend some time studying for MCAT. Also, you don’t want to take your prep as an additional burden to your already existing responsibilities as an undergrad. Try to balance it out. 

6.   Track your weak points

Another tip on how to prepare for MCAT effectively is identifying your weak points and working on them accordingly. After taking your first few practice tests, you will be able to identify the areas you need to improve. 

You will be able to tell where your brain has a tendency to go wrong when you identify mistakes. More importantly, working out your mistakes will bring the most out of your studying

7.   Do some research on med school MCAT score requirements

Your MCAT score is one of the biggest factors medical schools will consider in evaluating your admission. That is why it is important for you to be aware of the MCAT score requirements set by the medical school you are applying to. If you know that specific requirement, you can use that as a baseline or a target score as you prepare for the test. 

Also, knowing the MCAT score requirement for the school of your choice will keep you motivated in preparing for the test. If you keep that requirement in mind, you can map out your actions and preparation towards achieving that goal.

Top 10 MCAT Study Habits

MCAT Study Guide: Chapter 3

Ready to dive into your MCAT prep and wondering the best way to prepare for the MCAT? Learn the top ten MCAT study habits that will actually boost your score.

MCAT beakers
  • 1. Find Your BaselineYour baseline score is the score you would receive if you showed up at the exam site today. Before you start studying for the MCAT in earnest, take a full-length practice test and mimic the actual testing environment to the best of your ability. The results of this first practice test will help guide your prep by showing you which areas you need to focus on the most.
  • 2. Don’t Sacrifice Practice for Content ReviewHere’s what the MCAT really tests:
    1. your ability to apply basic knowledge to different, possibly new, situations
    2. your ability to reason out and evaluate arguments
    Do you still need to know your science content? Absolutely. But not at the level that most test-takers think. For example, your science knowledge won’t help you on the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS) section.
  • 3. Focus on AccuracyIs speed your number one concern? You should still start with untimed practice. Whenever you’re acquiring a new skill, you need to learn to do it well before learning to do it quickly.As you begin working practice problems, do the section or the passage untimed and focus on improving your accuracy. Later, start recording how long it takes you to do a passage or section. Even after you have been studying for some time, it is still useful to do some untimed practice problems, focusing on avoiding the types of mistakes you tend to make.
  • 4. Build StaminaIt is difficult to maintain concentration over several hours under normal circumstances, let alone under stressful conditions. Prepare for test day by working passages over longer and longer periods with shorter and shorter breaks, until you can comfortably concentrate for a few hours at a time.
  • 5. Take as Many Full-length Practice Tests as PossibleExperience builds confidence. Once you have practiced doing several passages at a stretch, take on doing more and more practice tests.
  • 6. Simulate REAL MCAT ConditionsComplete full tests in one sitting, taking breaks between sections. Don’t have any food or water during the test except during the breaks. If you get cold or hot, don’t put on or take off clothing unless you’re on a break.
  • 7. Practice Dealing With DistractionsDo passages or practice tests under less-than-ideal conditions. Go to a reasonably quiet coffee house, or an area of the library where people are moving around (but not talking loudly). Practice tuning out your surroundings while you work.
  • 8. Manage Your StressManaging your psychological and physical condition is just as important as studying and practicing. It doesn’t do you any good to work all day every day if you are so burned out that your brain doesn’t function any more. Build times for relaxation, including working out, into your schedule.

Use your practice test results to teach yourself how to improve.

  • 9. Evaluate Your Work…Constant self-evaluation is the key to continued improvement. Don’t just answer the questions and tally your score at the end. Use the results to teach yourself how to improve. What kinds of questions do you consistently miss? What kinds of passages slow you down? What kinds of answer traps do you tend to fall for? What caused you to pick the wrong answer to each question that you missed?
  • 10. …Even the Answers You Got Right!Don’t just think about the questions you got wrong—also analyze how you arrived at the right answers. Did you avoid a common trap? Are there question types on which you are particularly strong? 

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