Your MCAT score is one of two major numbers that medical school admissions committees will review. Most pre-medical students know that they need to get a good score. The question many will ask then is: how many hours should I study for the MCAT? This is a great question that unfortunately does not have an easy answer. There are some students that can do fine on the exam with only 30 or so hours of studying. There are others that can study for over 500 hours and still do poorly. However, there is a general trend that students that study more hours do better on the MCAT. That is true of just about any college class though. You cannot expect to get good grades without putting in the effort.
How Many Hours Should I Study for the MCAT?
There is no magic number that works for everyone. You need to determine for yourself how many hours you need to study. To figure this out, ask yourself the following questions:
- How well do I recall the concepts tested on the exam? This is an important one. The MCAT covers a lot of subjects (general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, biology, biochemistry, psychology, and sociology). The less you recall, the more hours you will need to put into your studies. If you have not taken all of these classes, you will definitely have extra work to do.
- How comfortable am I with applying scientific principles and concepts? Having scientific knowledge is one thing. Being able to apply them is another. The MCAT is not a test of your ability to memorize random facts. The exam will require you to apply your knowledge of science to novel scenarios and newly introduced information to answer the questions. Your ability to do this will determine how many practice questions and practice passages you need to do.
- How comfortable am I with the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS) section? Unlike the three science sections of the exam, the CARS section of the MCAT does not require knowledge of any concepts. It really tests your ability to think critically and analyze passages. Depending on your aptitude with this, you may have to do more or less practice passages.
- What is my target score? Logically, the higher your target score, the more you will need to study.
- What is the minimum score that I would accept? Target scores are sometimes set a bit high. There is no pre-medical student that does not want a 528. However, you also have to be realistic. By determining what the minimum score you would be happy with is, you can also better gauge how much time you need to put into your studies.
- Based on my answers to the questions above, how much work do I need to do? This is the last question. From answering the previous questions, you already know how much content review and practice you need to do. Now, translate the amount of work you need to do into hours. This may be just 50 hours for some but much more for others. If you’re looking to brush up on specific topics, Magoosh offers online prep for the MCAT.
In the end, it doesn’t matter how many hours you study for the MCAT. What matters is that you study for as long as you need to be prepared for the exam. That can be a lot of hours for some students and not so many for others. What can help you is studying efficiently. To help you with your studies, we’ve written posts on Taking Notes for the MCAT and Top Tips for MCAT Studying.