It’s officially crunch time. Your MCAT is 1 week away and you haven’t started studying. You already know that this is not an ideal situation, but you don’t have time to harp on the negative. You need to know how to navigate. Your strategy will be to practice, practice, practice. Assuming that you are already a whiz at the concepts tested on the MCAT, you now want to simulate test day as much as possible by doing practice questions and passages under timed conditions.
Day 1– Take a full-length practice exam. Score the exam and go over each question, beginning with questions from your weakest section. Understand why you chose each answer and review the concepts that are unclear to you.
Day 2– Use the AAMC question banks to practice for each section of the exam. Divide your day so that you spend 25% of your study time answering practice questions and 75% of the time reviewing your answers. For example, if you have 8 hours set aside to study, spend 2 hours (no more than 3) answering questions under timed conditions and 6 hours reviewing each answer. If you come across a question you missed because you didn’t know the concept, then stop and review it.
Days 3-5– Move on to the next section of the exam and repeat the method from Day 2. You should do a new section of the exam each day.
Day 6– Take a full-length practice exam and review your answers.
Day 7– Do no more than 4 hours of MCAT prep. Spend this time reviewing a nagging concept you’re rusty on, or reviewing practice questions. Once your 4 hours is up, do no more MCAT-related work for the rest of the day. Take this time to relax and be sure to get a good night’s rest.
What Are My Chances of Pulling This Off?
If you are confident in your content knowledge, then preparing for the MCAT in one week may be feasible. Knowing how to take the MCAT is almost as important as knowing the information that’s on it. That’s why you should focus your efforts on practicing how to take the exam once you’re down to the wire. Even though I would absolutely recommend postponing taking the MCAT if you can’t devote more time (at least 8 weeks) to prepare, I am always hesitant to declare what’s possible and impossible when it comes to studying. We all know that there are always exceptions. Regardless of the time constraints, be sure to be good to your body by taking breaks and allowing yourself to rest and recover. In a week this will all be over and you’ll have something new and fresh to agonize about—your score!