The most common challenge a medical student face when preparing for MCAT tests is coming up with an MCAT studying schedule which is going to actually work. No – sitting at the desk for x number of hours does not count as a schedule!
I know I’ve said it before and I guarantee I’ll say it again but one of the absolute best things you can do to help your studying is getting your schedule right. Work smart – not hard remember. And your schedule is a big part of that.
The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has issued guidelines that recommend that an average premedical student should study for between 300 to 500 hours when preparing for MCAT tests. The preparation can take three months or more, but students will need to spend a significant amount of time studying per week.
Of course, StudyingTV viewers should know that time spent studying is a very rough guideline at best. Check out the Memory Hack on getting twice the results in half the time if you haven’t already. It’s things like this that give you a real edge over someone who just tries to spend 80 hours a week at the desk.
You should know that no one perfect study schedule out there works for all premedical students. You should stick to the guidelines established by the AAMC that requires medical school applicants to study for at least 300 hours. No study schedule works for every student, but there are guidelines that you can follow to meet your study needs.
The Things You Need To Consider Before Coming Up With Your MCAT Study Schedule
1. Be Realistic
In creating your daily study schedule, you should first determine the amount of time you are willing to study every week. The excitement of joining a medical school may make some premedical students feel that they should be studying all the time. Studying all the time is not realistic because you have other responsibilities such as spending time with family, exercising, eating and resting. Moreover, over-studying can lead to a burnout that interferes with your ability to understand.
2. Examine Other Things You Have To Attend To
If you are a busy student attending classes and working every day, then you may only be able to manage two hours of study each day. You should design your study schedule based on your availability. Additionally, you should incorporate one day of rest every week for restorative purposes.
3. Your Study Schedule Should Reflect Your Natural Biological Clock
All MCAT tests are administered in the morning hours. This means that if you are a night owl, you should change your studying and sleeping patterns to match the time of the day you will be sitting for your exams. Adjusting your study and sleep pattern is especially important in the last few weeks before the test.
We’ve covered it before but there are pros and cons to being either an early riser or a night owl. But there are no advantages to falling asleep during an exam.
1. Study Schedule For The Long-Term Planner
The long-term planning schedule is suitable for premedical students who study while holding a full-time job. This plan suits students planning to study for their MCAT the whole year or more.
If you base your MCAT study schedule in the long-term, maybe you can study for just two days per week. Absorbing a significant amount of content as a long-term planner, you may need to spend months or years studying for your MCAT tests. As you get closer to taking the tests, increase your reading time by a few hours and read or take tests for not less than four days per week.
It is worth noting that spreading your study time for more than one year may make it difficult for you to maintain your momentum. You can ensure accountability by taking days to assess your progress based on the reading schedule. If you are looking for a specific resource to help you study as a long-term planner, you should go for a self-paced study schedule that allows you to access study resources in the long-term.
2. Study Schedule for the Average MCAT Studier
The study schedule for the average MCAT studier is best for high school juniors who are considering taking their MCAT tests at the end of the year and having light work or class schedules. Premedical students willing to devote only six months or less to their MCAT studies can also benefit from this approach. Studying for your MCAT test two or three days every week perfectly fits the study schedule for the average studier.
If you decide to base your study schedule on the average MCAT studier, you will have to make some commitments. Your study schedule should be designed to fit between your work schedule and classes. This approach can afford you three to five days every week that you can devote analyzing your MCAT materials for many hours. If you can keep up with this pace, then you will be able to accelerate it as the test approaches.
One important thing you should note is that saying you will study for your MCAT tests as you attend other classes is one thing, and doing it, is another. Cases of students studying aggressively for their MCAT tests, and their midterms and finals, and then undergo a burnout have been reported. To avoid putting yourself in such a situation, make sure that your class work is light if you are planning to study for your classes and MCAT tests simultaneously.
3. The Quick Studier
The quick studier approach to preparation for MCAT tests is suitable for premedical students planning to sit for the exams over the summer. This approach is suitable for students planning to spend three or fewer months studying for their MCAT tests.
If you opt for the quick studier approach, you should study six days every week for several hours per day with short breaks in between. However, you should note that the quick studier approach could easily lead to burnouts. This can be avoided by integrating time for family, relaxation and friends in your study schedule.
4. The Study Approach for Premedical Students Who Did Not Succeed in the Past
If you have tried preparing for MCAT tests in the past and then ran into some issues, there is a special studying approach for you. Students who derail from their study plan often derail because of health difficulty, family trouble, and work struggles among other unforeseen negative events. Adopting a fresh approach can assist you in getting back on track for your MCAT studies.
After dealing with all the issues that derailed you in the first place, you should tear down your original studying plan and start afresh. It is important to keep your spirit alive because having to start studying from the bottom again can be discouraging, especially if you had made significant progress last time. You should also focus more on self-evaluation than last time.