Last Updated On: April 18, 2021
The MCAT is one of the hardest standardized tests you will have to take on your path to becoming a medical doctor besides your board exams. If you are planning to apply to medical school, then you have undoubtedly heard some stories of this dreaded exam. One of the biggest reasons students don’t get the MCAT scores they desire is because they don’t make an MCAT study schedule and stick to it.
In this guide, we will be walking you through the important steps to creating the perfect MCAT practice schedule for you. Keep reading to find out how to boost your MCAT scores and get into the med-school of your dreams.
What is an MCAT Study Schedule?
An MCAT study schedule is a day-by-day schedule with specific content topics and hours you need to practice. Most MCAT study schedules range from 1 to 6 months or more, depending on how many months to study you have available. MCAT study schedules are the best way to work on your MCAT preparation as they provide many benefits when you study for the MCAT.
Why Do I Need A Study Schedule?
Stay on Track
One of the major pitfalls when it comes time to studying for the MCAT is the lack of focus some students have. You lead a busy life, so we understand how hard it can be to make time to study for MCAT. An MCAT study schedule can help you stay on track to a designated number of hours per week that are realistic for you.
You can create an MCAT study schedule with checkboxes to help you feel great about finishing up with your MCAT studying every day. It will also give you a big picture of what you need to do to accomplish your test day.
As a pro tip, we recommend adding the checkbox with the things you need to bring to your MCAT exam, so you won't forget any of the essential items on the test day.
Monitor Your Progress
We strongly recommend you monitor your progress throughout your MCAT journey. MCAT study schedules are the best way to track and monitor your progress.
You can set up practice test intervals to see how much you have increased your score. You can monitor every aspect of your progress, from full-length practice exams to section-specific MCAT practice questions.
Monitoring your progress helps you find the areas where you need to improve most. Let’s face it, we all need to see that we are improving to stay motivated. It is helpful to see how well you are doing and how much you have improved. It is similar to taking progress pictures when you start exercising.
We recommend you write down your scores on your MCAT study schedule every time you take practice exams. This will give you a quick look at how well you are doing.
Another great benefit of an MCAT study schedule is that you can adapt it to suit your needs. A study schedule can be adapted to any student.
If you are a busy student, then you can adopt a study schedule to suit your needs of only studying for only a couple of hours per day. On the other hand, if you have a lot of extra time, you can use a study schedule to study for 3 or more hours per day.
You can also adopt a study schedule midway through if you need to. If your daily schedule changes, you can easily change your MCAT study schedule to adapt to your new routine.
6 Factors to Consider When Making an MCAT Study Schedule
1. Choose Your MCAT Test Date
The very first step in creating your own MCAT study schedule is to choose your test date. You should schedule your MCAT exam as early as possible. The registration for the MCAT is open from January to September. There are approximately 25 test days, and they tend to fill up quickly.
We recommend scheduling your MCAT at least 3 or more months in advance, so you can get the location and date you prefer. You should be prepared to practice hard in the months leading to your MCAT.
2. Consider Your Commitments
We all have previous commitments that can make MCAT prep difficult. Many premed students are still finishing up their undergraduate studies and work part-time jobs while they are starting their MCAT prep journey.
Even if you just have a Sunday night bowling league to attend, you need to write it down on your MCAT study schedule. We understand you still need to have a life while you prepare for the MCAT. Even if it is a fraction of what it once was.
We recommend carving out hours daily for MCAT study that you know you can commit to. Even if you don’t have much time to prepare, we recommend scheduling those hours daily, so you can stay on track.
Recommended Article: Is the MCAT Difficult?
3. Hours Per Day
We strongly advise you to think long and hard about the number of hours you can dedicate to MCAT prep before making your MCAT study schedule. You should create a feasible goal that you can achieve each day. You should start with 3 hours daily for 3 months. If you think this is a realistic goal, then you can commit to a 3-month MCAT study schedule.
If you only have 1 hour to learn every day, you might want to try a 6-month study plan. The last thing you want to do is over-commit and not accomplish your daily goal. It can cause frustration and decrease your motivation.
We recommend creating your MCAT study schedule based on a 70% study and 30% practice split. You should be prepared to use mostly MCAT review content to facilitate your studying.
You should use high-quality MCAT content such as materials from the AAMC and other reputable sources. You should devote the majority of your time to MCAT content and section review.
Practice makes perfect, and you are going to need a lot of it to ace the MCAT. You should devote about 30% of your study time to practice.
The best thing you can do is take practice tests and practice questions. You should review each practice exam thoroughly and read all the answer explanations for the questions you missed.
6. Study Materials
Now that you’re on your way to creating your MCAT study schedule, you might be wondering what materials are best to use for an MCAT study plan. Since we know what it is like to be a college student, we are all about the free MCAT resources you can find.
In our opinion, you should be using the free MCAT resources provided by the AAMC before moving on to buying additional study materials. You should have the AAMC MCAT Essentials Guide, which is a great place to find testing logistics and other prep material. 
We also recommend taking advantage of the 4 full-length practice tests available through the AAMC website. You will also have access to previous MCAT questions and answers from the AAMC.
They have 2 question banks; the official MCAT question bank with over 300 questions and the section packs, divided into natural, behavioral, and social sciences. The section packs cover biology, chemistry, physics, and critical analysis and reasoning skills (CARS).
You might also want to invest in a content review book, which will give you the basics of every subject on the MCAT. If you can afford it and need extra practice, then you should consider enrolling in an MCAT prep course or getting one of the top MCAT prep books.
MCAT Study Schedule Example
Now that you have a thorough understanding of the key components of building the perfect MCAT study schedule, let’s take a look at an example of a 3-month MCAT study schedule. This study schedule requires you to commit to 3 hours per day for 6 days. That brings you to a total of 18 hours per week.
MCAT Study Schedule Week 1
Before you even start studying, we recommend you take a diagnostic test under real MCAT conditions to identify your strengths and weaknesses. You can find one of these practice tests on the AAMC website.
You should use this initial MCAT score and diagnostic test to gauge which content areas you need the most help in. When reviewing content, make sure you decide how to get started by identifying key improvement areas.
If you did well in your review of the reproductive system, then you should set aside less time to study for that section. If you scored poorly in your general chemistry review, dedicate as many hours as possible to review that section.
You should build a weekly study plan with a specific amount of time, or block, to study daily. You should allow for one day off per week, so you don’t get burnt out before the MCAT. When you study for the MCAT, assign specific study schedules for every topic.
We recommend setting up a rotating review of biochemistry, biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, math, and behavioral sciences.
In our opinion, it is best to incorporate CARS practice daily to ensure you grasp the main concepts and improve your overall reading ability.
MCAT Study Schedule Week 2 - 8
This section will focus on specific topic areas to study for weeks 2 - 8. Once you get to week 3, you should have a nice routine to follow. For your study guide, we recommend choosing specific topic areas for each week. It might look something like this.
- Biochemistry: Non-Enzymatic Proteins
- Biology: Genetics and Evolution
- General Chemistry: Atoms and Periodic Trends
- Organic Chemistry: Structure and Stability
- Psychology and Sociology: Learning and Memory
- Physics: Waves and Sound
- CARS: Reading Comprehension
Once you get to week 9, we recommend you take another full-length MCAT. When taking the MCAT, time yourself exactly as you will be timed on the day of the exam. Review your scores and study schedules and adapt your study time accordingly.
This plan is for 3 months of study, but it can easily be adapted to accommodate 6 months. You can alter the study guide time blocks to fit your needs. We recommend printing these MCAT study schedules on a large calendar and putting it somewhere where you can see them daily.
MCAT Study Schedule Summary
In this guide, we have given you the best information on study materials and a detailed schedule that you can adapt to suit your needs. The best study tips we can give you are to create your schedule and track your progress.
With our detailed study plan, you should be on your way to your dream MCAT score. We provided you with a 3-month schedule, but you can adapt this schedule to fit any length of time. If you need to study for 6 or 12 months, then reduce the number of hours you spend on each topic area per day.