The MCAT exam will be your gateway to med school, and having a good score is crucial in order to get accepted.
Most experts consider three months the minimum amount of time you should give yourself to study for the MCAT. How many hours? About 300+.
Ideal MCAT study schedule templates will have you devote 3-5 hours per day to your MCAT studies.
You will have to be committed to your own schedule and diligent in how you study to make it through the medical school admission process.
MCAT 3 Month Study Schedule Summary
- Over the three months, expect to study at least a few hours daily.
- Break your MCAT study plan into two sections - one for content knowledge review and one for taking and reviewing full-length tests.
- Work on CARS passages throughout the 3-month period to successfully prepare for the test content.
MCAT Study Schedule
Your 3-month MCAT study schedule template will start out in the content review.
This is the foundation of the MCAT prep before you move on to the more complex strategies and exams.
The first half of the study period should be devoted almost entirely to content review (though some practice questions will still be mixed in).
The second half will involve a transition into practice exams.
These training tests are key tools for developing your pacing and endurance for the real test.
The tests also help you pinpoint where to focus your MCAT prep by demonstrating your weak areas.
Let's get into a little more detail about your MCAT 3-month study schedule.
Take a Full-Length Practice Test
The first thing you need to do is to take a full-length practice exam.
Do it under the most accurate conditions you can - no interruptions; take breaks only at the allotted times; don't look up the answers to any questions.
You should do this for a couple of reasons. Full-length practice tests will give you a sense of how demanding the test will be.
You will see how hard it is to stay focused for that long and understand why you need to build your endurance.
Second, a full-length exam will give you a baseline from which to start your MCAT study.
This understanding of how far you need to go to get the score you want should motivate you to work throughout the next three months.
Finally, a diagnostic exam will help you determine which sections are your strengths and weaknesses so that you can prioritize your study for the MCAT.
With only three months available, it is critical that you spend less time in your strong areas and more time studying your weak ones.
One final word of advice, use a free exam from a source other than the AAMC for this initial diagnostic.
The AAMC only publishes a very limited number of practice tests, and you don't want to waste an exam from the test writers before you are ready to take full advantage of it.
Science Content Foundation
After completing the exam, it is time for you to dive into studying the core content of the MCAT.
This is where you will go over all the topics tested on the exam - biology, physics, general chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, sociology, psychology (behavioral sciences) - and thoroughly review them.
Whatever study materials you are using for your own MCAT study schedule (whether from a course, book, or another source), divide the material up so that you will make it through all the subject matter in the next six weeks.
"Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now." - Alan Lakein, businessman
Now, no matter how you divide it up, MCAT study schedules should always start with the most challenging and difficult subject for you first.
It means both earliest in the day and first in the series of subjects you study.
If biochemistry is your weakest area, you should study that during the first week of your 3-month MCAT study schedule.
And if you are studying both biochemistry and organic chemistry, study the biochemistry material before studying organic.
While studying, treat every review question like it is an actual test question. Work the problem, and then see if you got the right answer.
If you did not answer the question correctly, evaluate what made you miss the question.
Then, write that concept down on a piece of paper that we will call your Incorrect Questions List (IQL).
The IQL is going to be where you start to have a real opportunity to improve your score.
You should repeatedly review the ideas and concepts on your IQL over the three months so that they become easy for you to understand and recall.
Read More: MCAT General Chemistry Review
Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS)
We have discussed studying for the science sections, but what about the CARS?
When it comes to MCAT study schedules, the best thing for CARS is to practice answering passages and reading.
The test writers create excellent, high-quality practice passages that require you to read them carefully before answering the questions.
You cannot do test reviews for those ahead of time, as they can come from any of the humanities or social sciences.
In fact, the AAMC doesn't want you to "know" the answer; they want you to understand the basic components of the text, infer meaning, evaluate arguments and apply ideas from the passage to new contexts. That leads to good test scores.
The only way to get better at this is to practice. Do at least one CARS passage every time you study a science subject.
To answer the practice passages correctly, you need to read critically and try to understand what the author is trying to say.
Other than practice, the best way to do this is to read high-quality articles.
The Economist  and The Atlantic  are two publications known for well-written quality content. Regular reading of this sort will help you get used to following cogent arguments (whether you agree with them or not).
You will dedicate the second half of your 3-month schedule to practice tests.
During these six weeks, you should take 12 full-length practice exams; and at least half of them should be taken under real-test conditions.
"Scheduling downtime as part of your routine is hard but worth it, personally, even professionally." - Daniel Goleman, author
The day after you take an MCAT practice test, go back and review the MCAT practice questions. First, look at the practice questions you gave a wrong answer to, figure out why you missed them, and add them to your IQL.
If you have time, look at the practice questions you got right and verify that you know why you got them right. If it was a lucky guess, figure you why the answer was correct and add it to your IQL.
The following day, review items off your IQL - make sure you learn the concepts; go online and look for additional examples and problems you can try; work on drilling the ideas into your head.
MCAT 3 Month Study Schedule: Final Week
In our sample MCAT study schedule, the last week before your MCAT test dates should be about dialing things back.
Go ahead and study some high-yield topics and things you still need to get down cold.
Condense your notes and review some flashcards, but don't go crazy on MCAT preparation.
Take the day off before the exam. Eat a good meal. Go to bed on time. Get to the testing center a little early on test day. Your MCAT schedule is done.
This effective MCAT study schedule guide has given you everything you need to get the MCAT scores you want for your med school application.
I’ve laid out some key points to consider to help get started with this 3-month MCAT study schedule. Follow those, and you will be ready for your MCAT test date.