Studying for the MCAT in 1 month takes serious focus and dedication, but it is not completely impossible. As someone who prepared for the MCAT in about 5 weeks, I know that it can be done, but I would highly recommend waiting until you have more time to study, if possible. You will need to devote most of your waking hours to your preparation. Being so focused can definitely be stressful! During your month of studying, you will be spending over 40 hours per week preparing for the exam, so it’s imperative that you eliminate all distractions.
As for your plan of action, your study strategy will be quite different from a 12-week or 8-week study plan. With only 1 month to cram, it’s best to focus your prep almost completely on answering practice questions and taking practice exams. If there is a topic that you know is a weakness, then by all means, take time to review the content, but the practice questions should guide your studying. This means that you should start each day by doing timed practice problems. Always score your questions and focus your content review on the sections that have the lowest scores and work your way to the sections you scored well in. For every practice question you want be sure you know why you got the problem right (was it a lucky guess or are you a whiz at biochem?) or why you got it wrong. This may require you to consult an online source or your class textbook. Whatever method you choose, be sure that you understand the question before moving on. Below is a study plan that outlines how you should tackle the month.
- Week 1– Begin your prep by taking a full-length practice exam. Then, beginning with the section with the lowest score, review each question in the entire test. Combing through the exam will help to reveal any weaknesses you may have. If your missed questions are content-based, then review the concepts for clarity. For the rest of the week do practice problems and passages under timed conditions, making sure to review all of your answers.
- Weeks 2 & 3– Utilize AAMC‘s question banks and continue doing timed practice problems. Review your answers.
- Week 4-Take another full-length practice exam. Note any increases or decreases in your score since the first week’s exam and focus your content review/practice accordingly. Comb through the exam and repeat last week’s “practice and review” method. For the rest of the week, do practice problems in any weak areas. Do nothing MCAT related the day before the exam and be sure to get a good night’s rest.
Things To Remember
If you have a strong foundation in your prerequisite courses, you will find that it’s not so much the content of the MCAT as it is the format that makes it so tough. Solving practice problems will help you learn the style of questioning to expect, while reviewing your answers will help to develop your own method of getting into the “groove” of taking the MCAT. Essentially, you’re learning how to take the test. Also, it’s easy to go into complete ‘panic mode’ and attempt to study for 20 hours a day. Don’t do this. Your body needs rest to recover and process all the information you’re cramming into your brain. Be sure to get a full night’s rest, eat a balanced diet, and take breaks to clear your head. This month will be intense, but it will be over before you know it.