Are you thinking of studying medicine, do you want to prepare for the MCAT exam but don’t know when to start?
In this article we are going to answer the question ‘’How long should you study for MCAT?’’, We will establish the ideal study time for you to have a successful result and we will give you some tips that will help you in your study plan.
How long should you study for MCAT?
You must study for the MCAT from 4 to 6 months before. Dedicating between 15 hours a week to study.
After the fun and excitement of high school graduation, the countdown begins to the next big chapter in your life.
The Medical School Admission Test (MCAT) is an admissions test for medical schools, primarily in the US Most people who take the MCAT are juniors or seniors preparing to graduate from a standard 4-year school. A well-prepared student will study and take the MCAT exam early so that there is a chance to retake the exam if the score is low.
What ‘s the MCAT?
The MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) is a standardized, computer-based test required for admission to almost all medical schools in the United States and Canada. It’s administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).
According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, more than 52,000 students apply for admission to allopathic medical schools. Of those, around 20,000+ students were accepted.
Admissions officers use the MCAT to predict your success in Medical School. The exam is designed to measure the skills you’ll use when you get there, including basic science, verbal reasoning, and writing skills. The MCAT is a 7 1/2 hour computer-based exam that has a reputation for being one of the most challenging standardized tests.
The test assesses a student’s abilities in the areas of physical science, verbal reasoning, writing samples, and life science.
With all these stats in mind, don’t expect your trip to be child’s play. There is, of course, a certain degree of preparation required. That is what this post is about. We give you some very useful and practical tips to get a stellar score on your MCATs.
When should I take the MCAT?
The MCAT is offered from January to September in the United States, Canada, and other international sites. You can take the MCAT up to 3 times a year, up to 4 in a two-year period in a row, and up to 7 in total.
May and June are some of the most common months to take the MCAT. This allows college courses to be completed which can be beneficial in providing the necessary knowledge for the MCAT sections. Additionally, MCAT scores are available approximately one month after taking the exam, and by taking it early, one can send one to highly competitive medical colleges.
Tips: studying for the MCAT exam
The MCAT is a marathon, not a simple race. To be successful and get the maximum score, preparation is essential.
1. Establish a preparation time
This is the most important thing you can do for yourself. There’s no point trying to lie to yourself and say “it’s just another test, don’t worry about it.” This can help you calm down for the moment, but it will always cause a tide of panic later on. The point of having the right time is to paralyze the panic.
Your medical career path will depend on how well you do on your MCATs. Make sure you spend at least three to six months preparing for the exam. Most of the candidates can score the best results with constant and uninterrupted preparation between done 2.5 to 6 months.
But, that is usually when there are no other commitments that demand your attention or time. But, if you have a full-time job -dedicating 8 hours a day just for studies will not be feasible. You could start your study a year in advance, but remember that you will need to rehearse a great deal of information more quickly as the big day approaches.
You have to approach studying for the MCAT like it’s your job, literally. You should be studying at least 6-8 hours a day with minimal interruptions to prepare for the large amount of material that you are expected to know.
You should also try to follow a study routine every day while doing this program. The MCAT is the longest exam you will take (so far) and it is important to increase your stamina for the test.
If you schedule the exam for a morning slot, wake up each day as if it were the day of the exam. Eat your breakfast, drink your coffee, and then review the material you covered the day before.
Take an hour off just to give it a break from your computer screen or textbook printing, but then it’s important to get back to your notes after an hour.
Even if you are tired, believe me, you will not have the stamina you need to survive this test. You have to train your mind to respond to short intervals of pauses and work even when you are tired.
Tip: You will end up forgetting most of the information you rehearsed if you start too early before your exam date. The only exception to this rule is if you have a job and can only spend a small window of time preparing for it.
2. MCAT Practice Test
The Princeton Review offers free online preparation tools such as a comprehensive exam, video lessons, and exercises.
Kaplan offers free preparation tools such as half-length practice exams and sample classes. The MCAT Self Prep offers free online courses that include practice questions produced by the actual MCAT writers. Khan Academy Offers free video tutorials on different concepts tested on the MCAT.
Although these MCAT prep courses can be expensive, it’s an investment in your future and it’s much easier to appreciate the content in your mind after that.
3. Practicing with distractions
Let’s be honest. You are distracted many times during your MCAT test. Even if the conditions in the test center are perfect, that 5-minute word of warning at the end of each section counts as distractions. Have you lost your thought guide? It possibly does.
The best way is to practice it. Do practice tests in any distracted condition. Instead of taking your best practice tests under probationary conditions, take them in a quiet coffee shop, in a library, or somewhere not completely devoid of distractions. If you become familiar with these types of distractions, your performance on the MCAT test will not suffer as much.
4. Relax and fight stress
Studying for the MCAT is stressful and time consuming. It is an inevitable part of every student’s life. But remember, it can either be used to drive you to improve your work or let it be your own downfall.
As you prepare for the MCAT, you will encounter many difficult conditions – both psychological and physical. You can combat stress with ample nutrition, rest, and exercise to be in good physical and psychological condition.
5. Evaluate your performance
How do you evaluate your own performance? Self-assessment and persistent improvement go hand in hand. Blaming a low score is easy. However, you must have responsibility and be honest with yourself. This is how you can assess test readiness and measure progress.
Evaluate your performance based on – the type of questions you miss each time, your speed, your response to trick questions, etc.
Find the answers to all these questions and try to solve them. You can compare your time; discuss strategies for difficult tests, study with others to review and evaluate and judge your performance.
6. Focus on your strengths and weaknesses
Many pre-med students, overconfident in their intelligence, tend to focus on their strengths when preparing for the MCAT; which is not a good strategy.
If you decide to take a prep course or study on your own, use the practice tests and use the results as a guide to refine a study plan that will help you further develop your strengths and work on your weakest areas.
This is very important to keep in mind in your MCAT study plan. If you are going to score higher, focus on your weaknesses. It is not optimal to give the same time to all subjects.
7. More understanding, less memorization
The MCAT is not designed to access your skills in remembering data and formulas – it tests your general critical thinking and thinking skills. So be sure to focus more on understanding and less on memorization.
If you think you can go with the memorization materials and wait for the MCAT ace, you’re wrong. Rather, you have the ability to read the passage carefully, extract the important information, apply your reasoning skills, and choose the answer based on critical analysis.
8. Don’t be hard on yourself
Undoubtedly, studying for the MCAT is stressful and sometimes you are its most unpleasant enemy. Sometimes to pass the exam you tend to push yourself too hard and things get worse.
Just remember if you study and prepare well, you will definitely get it right. The MCAT will measure how much you have prepared and studied, so if you have certainty and confidence, you will do well. It will never be helpful to be so rude to yourself.
9. Don’t be afraid to push your exam back!
This is a great test, the consequences are enormous. The best thing you can do for yourself is to be honest and decide if you are really ready once test day approaches.
If you’ve been scoring poorly on practice tests, having a hard time mastering some subcategories, or just feeling too anxious about all of this, pay the penalty and change your test date.
Although you are able to take the MCAT multiple times, in reality, the Admission Board will only consider your first attempt. If you score much higher on the second try, even a sensational score can influence your application and potentially knock you out of the picture instantly.
Only you will really know if you are ready. It is important to have confidence in the process. Your MCAT score is a magic key that can open a lot of doors for you or close a lot of them, so you want to make sure you do the best you can.
And remember that not only the MCAT is important for your admission, you must also have a good GPA.
Final tips before MCAT exam day
Before the day of the MCAT test, get a good night’s sleep the day before for a minimum of 8 hours. Before an exam, give your brain a day off. Go for a movie, play some sports, bake a cake, Netflix, and just chill.
Earplugs, draft paper, and writing equipment are provided in the test center. Don’t forget to pack high-protein snacks to recharge your brain during breaks. Also, bring your identification to the center.
If you feel stressed at any time, take deep breaths to reset your system and rejuvenate yourself. Remember, there is a wealth of useful MCAT information and resources available online. As long as you spend time on homework, there should be no surprises to come on your test day.
Hopefully, now you will have an idea of where to start your cracking preparation for this exam. If you are still confused, don’t worry. Look for a guide, consult online resources or look for a professional on the subject
FAQS: How long should you study for MCAT?
How many hours a day should I study for the MCAT?
The minimum you must study daily for the MCAT is two hours a day in 8 months of preparation.
Is 3 months enough to study for MCAT?
It depends. 3 months could be enough if you put in a lot of hours a day (you can bournout easily). Ideally, you should prepare at least 4 months before.
Is 4 months enough time to study for the MCAT?
You can work in that time moderately. Take 2 months full time on all the MCAT content and another two months to review the content.
Can you study for MCAT in 2 months?
If you plan to study in two months for the MCAT you will have to take the whole day to study, and it may not be enough. You will have to push yourself to the maximum and it can be counterproductive.
What is the hardest section on the MCAT?
The lowest scores are obtained in the CARS section (Critical Analysis and Reasoning section), it could be considered the most difficult.
In this article we answered the question ‘’How long should you study for MCAT?’’, We established the ideal study time for you to have a successful result and gave you some tips that will help you in your study plan.
If you have any questions or comments please let us know!
How to Juggle MCAT Prep and Work. (2020). Retrieved October 9, 2020, from Princetonreview.com website: https://www.princetonreview.com/med-school-advice/how-to-juggle-mcat-prep-and-work#:~:text=Most%20people%20need%2010%E2%80%9315,hours%20of%20MCAT%20study%20time.
Kowarski, I. (2019). What the MCAT Test Is Like and How to Prepare. Retrieved October 9, 2020, from US News & World Report website: https://www.usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/top-medical-schools/articles/what-is-the-mcat-test-like-and-how-do-you-prepare-for-it
Sklar, D. P. (2013). Preparation for Medical School: reflections on the MCAT Exam, premedical education, and the medical school application process. Academic Medicine, 88(5), 553-554.