Proven MCAT Study Plans [3, 4, 6 and 8-Month Schedules]

Proven MCAT Study Plans

In any challenge you face, effective preparation can tip the scales. 

This is where time and priority management comes in handy. In this article, we’ll show you how to re-frame your priorities, set them in order, and commit to the schedule to help you excel in the MCAT.

Creating an MCAT study plan should help you plan your MCAT study schedule in the most efficient way possible. So, how long should you study for the MCAT exam? Your MCAT study schedule and its effectiveness will depend on how much priority of the MCAT you put in your day. 

If, for example, your 30 day MCAT study plan will be devoted to 6 hours a day, then it means you prioritize 6 hours of MCAT study over anything else like extracurriculars or personal stuff. 

How important is the MCAT study plan for you? How important is each topic in your MCAT prep plan? How much importance do you put in practice exams? 

Your answers will dictate the right approach to studying and how to manage your schedule to prepare for the MCAT. 

MCAT Prep Plan Materials

Before we dive into your MCAT study plan, you’ll need the right materials to help you prepare for the journey ahead. 

Here are the essential materials to use throughout your MCAT study schedule:

  1. MCAT books – Whether you take on a self-study, in-person, or live online class, MCAT prep books are essential resources in your MCAT prep schedule.
  2. Practice Questions – Applying all you’ve learned is key to gauging your progress. For an MCAT study schedule 2 months before the exam, practice questions will put your knowledge to the test.
  3. Full-length practice exams – Full-length practice exams are an upgrade from practice questions. You can test your pacing, test-strategy, analysis, and comprehension level taking multiple exams throughout your MCAT study plan. Using the AAMC practice exams is a must.
  4. MCAT prep schedule planner – If you’re comfortable using a planner or journal to schedule your daily tasks, go for it. A simple calendar will even do. Some prep courses also offer their own MCAT planner. Either way, using a planner (1) for your MCAT study schedule helps you keep track of your progress. It also serves as a great organization tool to keep your headspace clear, thanks to easy referencing. 

MCAT Study Schedule: How to Plan for 3, 4, 6, and 8 Month Schedules

There is no one-size-fits-all to one’s learning experience. Whatever style you learn best, stick to it. For something as grueling as the MCAT, you’ll need to be in your best shape as much as possible. 

In this section, we’ll go over 4 study schedules for you to select the best study plan. 

3 Month MCAT Study Plan

Compared to an MCAT study schedule 2 months before the exam, this might prove to be difficult. Why? Because 1 month alone should already focus on full-length practice exams and feedback. 

If the results show that you need more time to review, 2 months might be cutting your prep plan slightly thinner compared to a 3-month plan.

 Who Is This Study Plan For: 

An MCAT study plan 3 months before the exam is perfect for medical students who don’t have any extracurriculars or jobs outside of their study schedule. 

For a stay-at-home and study-all-day type of learning, the 3-month MCAT study plan is a learning experience on an extreme scale. 

This is because studying in this timeframe would likely mean devoting 7-8 hours every day for 6 days a week

This Study Plan Is NOT For: 

If you have a full-time job or have a hard time committing to a lot of hours in a day, this isn’t for you. A study plan like this can easily lead to burnout so be wary in choosing this study plan.   

Schedule:

Monday to Friday: 

9 A.M. – 12 P.M. – Study 
12 P.M. – 1 P.M. – Break
1 P.M. – 3 P.M. – Study
3 P.M. – 4 P.M. – Break
4 P.M. – 6 P.M. – Study
6 P.M. – 7 P.M. – Break
7 P.M. – 8 P.M. – Study

Saturday – Rest day
Sunday – Rest day

Bottom Line:

You’ll be studying 40 hours per week with barely any time for extracurriculars. Most likely, you’ll be shut in for three months and this may take a toll on your mental health. 

What’s the advantage? This study plan is hyper-focused on the MCAT alone so you’ll be confident and prepared in the shortest time possible. 

MCAT Resources to Use:

We recommend using a lot of diverse and comprehensive review materials since you’ll only have 3 months to study. 

Here are resources you can use:

  1. Kaplan
  2. Examkrackers
  3. Gold Standard
  4. AAMC 

4 Month MCAT Study Plan

The 4-month MCAT study plan is similar to studying for 3 months only with more balance in between work and other personal commitments. 

Still, we don’t recommend using this plan if you have a full-time job since this may still take a lot of your time. Sure, you’ll have a more comfortable and healthier lifestyle but 4 months can still pack a punch. 

 Who Is This Study Plan For: 

This could be a last-resort option for those with a full-time job or extracurriculars and volunteer work. 

For those without a full-time job, this provides better balance and care for your mental & physical health. Even with responsibilities on your plate, 4 months gives you more flexibility to work in between schedules. 

This Study Plan Is NOT For: 

If you’re looking for more free time in between your study schedule and a lot of full-time commitments on your plate, this isn’t an ideal study plan. 

Schedule: 

Monday to Friday: 

9 A.M. – 11 P.M. – Study 
11 P.M. – 1 P.M. – Break
1 P.M. – 3 P.M. – Study
3 P.M. – 4 P.M. – Break
4 P.M. – 6 P.M. – Study

Saturday – Rest day
Sunday – Rest day

Bottom Line:

With a 4-month MCAT Study plan, you’re free to do more in-between your day. You’ll even have more break time to rest and give yourself a good amount of relaxation. 

When studying for the MCAT, the rest time is vital to successful MCAT preparation. Striking a balance prevents you from having burnouts. It also improves your productivity overall. 

This is one reason why a 6 week MCAT study plan is not recommended and is considerably cramming for the MCAT already. 

Cramming will most likely lead to higher levels of stress and anxiety, which could lower your chances significantly of passing the exam. 

MCAT Resources to Use:

Since you’ll have more time on your plate, an MCAT prep class and devoting more time towards practice exams would be ideal resources. 

Here are resources you can use:

  1. Gold Standard 
  2. The Princeton Review 510+ program
  3. Kaplan
  4. Next Step/Blueprint

6 Month MCAT Study Plan

Among all the study plans covered in this list, an MCAT study plan for 6 months offers the best balance and versatility. 

With or without a full-time job or any other commitments, partaking in this plan gives you the most time to gradually prepare for the MCAT. 

Rather than worry about the weeks you have left, you can focus on improving on weak areas plus review at a healthy pace. 

Who Is This Study Plan For: 

This plan is perfect for those who have a full-time job and want the most time possible on their hands to prepare for the MCAT. 

With other priorities at hand,  you can easily slide your study time between 3-4 hours every day for 5 days

This Study Plan Is NOT For: 

Someone who’s looking to get through the MCAT preparation process in a shorter timeframe. 

Believe it or not, some people prefer to complete the MCAT between 3 and 5 months because they prefer to be done with it as quickly as they can. 

Schedule: 

Monday to Friday: 

9 A.M. – 11 P.M. – Study 
11 P.M. – 1 P.M. – Break
1 P.M. – 3 P.M. – Study

Saturday – Rest day
Sunday – Rest day

Bottom Line:

What’s great about this plan is even if you miss a day or two, you still have plenty of time to adjust and make up for the lost hours. You can either do this by increasing the hours you study in a day or study for 6 days instead of 5. 

MCAT Resources To Use:

Resources to use for this study plan include:

  1. Kaplan
  2. Gold Standard
  3. Magoosh
  4. Examkrackers
  5. AAMC

8 Month MCAT Study Plan

Something you should remember about the MCAT is that studying with a longer time frame doesn’t always mean better. 

Why bother with this plan then? 

8 months give you all the time to study for the MCAT while still feeling like your daily activities don’t have to change at all. Actually, you wouldn’t feel a lot of pressure on this plan. 

You won’t even feel like you’re missing out on life if you study this long. 

Who Is This Study Plan For: 

This study plan is perfect for medical students who are looking for the most time to juggle work and 1 – 2 commitments outside of school along with studying for the MCAT. 

For anyone looking for the lightest workload, this study plan is the perfect option.

This Study Plan Is NOT For: 

A downside to the 8-month study plan is building momentum consistently for nearly half a year. It’s possible for your momentum and drive to slow down along the way. 

This isn’t ideal for students who don’t want too light of a workload and aren’t confident enough to strictly stick to a disciplined routine for a whole 8-month period.

Schedule: 

Study time is for 2 hours every day for 5 days a week. This can also vary per student however he/she wants to adjust or fit in their study time.

Bottom Line:

An 8-month study plan sounds tempting and carries a lot of benefits that allow proper rest and a “normal lifestyle” compared to the previous study plans mentioned.

If you choose this study plan, it’s best to also outline a plan on how to prepare for the MCAT in 2 months (2). 

Since 8 months give you plenty of rest in between and could affect your momentum, it’s best to build that momentum rapidly in 2-3 months. 

MCAT Resources To Use:

  1. The Princeton Review
  2. Gold Standard
  3. Magoosh
  4. Examkrackers
  5. Next Step/Blueprint
  6. AAMC

Table of Contents

Frequently asked questions

In the worst-case scenario, it’s possible but a highly challenging task indeed. A one month MCAT study schedule would mean using as many practice exams specifically, AAMC. 

MCAT books from Gold Standard offer a ton of diversity along with using flashcards. For a 30-day MCAT study plan, you can read more about it here (3).

The MCAT exam is not as difficult, given that you work smart using the right resources and commit to a schedule according to your study plan. 

Focusing on gaining a strong science background in biology and in psychology should provide plenty of help for the exam.

Conclusion

Hands down, a study plan within the range of 4 to 6 months offers the perfect balance for prep time, rest, and flexibility.

Now that the MCAT test day is finally approaching, find out the 10 proven test day tips to help you ace the MCAT exam!