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How to Study for the MCAT: Your 6-Month Study Plan

how to study for the MCAT -magoosh

Wondering how to study for the MCAT? Ask and you shall receive! In response to many requests from our students, we’ve put together a six-month MCAT study schedule to guide you, day-by-day, through the twenty-four weeks leading up to your MCAT.

The study schedule includes:

  • A daily MCAT study plan covering six months of content (to help you get a 528 in 528 hours!)
  • A list of essential MCAT study materials.
  • Links to free flashcards and videos!

What to Expect from the MCAT Study Schedule

The plan outlined in the study schedule will guide you through how to study for the MCAT over the course of 26 weeks at a rate of 15-25 hours per week. You can expect to cover biology on a weekly basis and most other topics at bi-weekly rate.

This plan is set up on a Sunday to Friday schedule, with Saturdays off. The first day of the week (Sunday, in this case) is the most time intensive, because these are the days you’ll be taking practice tests, which take 7 hours to complete! Every Friday is set aside for reviewing the week’s content and organizing your study materials and strategies.

The schedule is designed to be followed at a rate of 2-4 hours per day, 6 days per week. (Except for those 7 hour practice exam days!)

And here’s something cool: If you study 20 hours a week and tack on an extra 8 hours at some point, your total study time will be 528 hours! As in a perfect score, get it? That is a lot of studying. But if you’re reading this 6 months before the exam, you could really have a shot at a top MCAT score if you commit to this study schedule.

Click here for Magoosh's 6-month MCAT study schedule

MCAT Essential Materials Overview

You can follow this schedule without purchasing materials beyond the Magoosh course and a notebook, but in that scenario you would need to recycle many of the 700+ practice questions and take fewer practice exams…which is definitely a valid option if you’re on a tight budget! However, to follow this schedule precisely, you should plan on investing an additional $150-$250.

 
Here’s a quick overview, to give you an idea of what materials you’ll need:

Magoosh’s MCAT Product:

Magoosh is our online MCAT prep course that offers:
• 250+ unique lessons on all MCAT subjects
• 700+ practice questions, with video explanations after every question
• Material created by LSAT experts
• 24-hour access to online materials from any internet-connected device
• Email support from experienced LSAT tutors
• Customizable practice sessions
• Full-length timed practice tests
• Personalized statistics based on your performance

Try our free 7-day trial!

Khan Academy:

If you are on a tight budget, make use of Khan Academy for practice questions and advice on how to study for the MCAT.

The Official Guide to the MCAT Exam (4th Edition):

The Official Guide to the MCAT Exam, (4th edition), published by the Association of American Medical Colleges, is available in electronic and print formats. It is very important that you purchase the 4th edition, because the MCAT exam was reconstructed in 2015.

Magoosh’s WebApp Flashcards:

Magoosh’s WebApp flashcards are specifically designed for the new MCAT! Our free bundle contains 237 flashcards. This is a great starting place to assess your knowledge and improve your scientific vocabulary. The flashcards can be accessed online and as an app on your iPhone or Android.

AAMC Sample Diagnostic Test:

You will be taking the AAMC sample diagnostic test during the first week of the study schedule. It provides an assessment of your strengths and weaknesses, both in terms of content and question type.

One AAMC Practice Tests:

We recommend buying both tests, but at the very least you should purchase one. The practice test is a crucial tool, and our study plan suggests you take it early on in your studies and again towards the end. It provides a scaled score. If you’re considering purchasing both full-length exams and all the official practice questions, you will save money if you get the entire AAMC bundle.

AAMC MCAT Section Bank for the Physical, Biological, and Social Sciences:

Students who have taken the MCAT since it was revised in 2015 have complained that many of the MCAT practice tests and prep books don’t reflect the increased focus on biochemistry and the social sciences.

The writers of the actual MCAT developed an online bank of 300 practice questions specifically designed for the new MCAT, which are underrepresented in the universe of MCAT test prep materials. If you already have books or an online program with sample MCAT questions, you can certainly use those instead.

AAMC Online CARS Practice Passage Bundles:

You should purchase both AAMC online CARS practice passage bundles (Volume 1 and Volume 2), since you will need at least 50 practice passages, and these online bundles are reasonably priced – they contain 18 passages each.

The Magoosh course contains practice CARS passages, and you will have 5 from the official AAMC book. If you already have books or an online program with sample CARS questions, you can certainly use those instead.

Click here for Magoosh's 6-month MCAT study schedule

Additional Reading:

Bookmark at least 5 established online newspapers, news magazines, or sources that contain sophisticated coverage on current events. You can also read paper versions to give your eyes a break from looking at a screen.

Recommendations include:
The New Yorker
The Atlantic
The New York Times Magazine
The American Interest
The Toronto Star
Foreign Affairs

Notebook(s):

To stay organized during your studies, you should be using one or more large notebooks or electronic documents divided by content area (biology, chemistry, physics, organic chemistry, sociology, psychology, and CARS).

You need a consistent place to store notes that allows you to quickly draw diagrams and write equations. Unless you have a computer or tablet with a high-quality stylus, a paper notebook is essential.

Study Log:

You should also have notebook or electronic document or spreadsheet for logging your study hours. You can combine this with the notebook mentioned in #7 or purchase a separate notebook, which I recommend. Keep track of the date, the time of day, the topic or subjects you studied, and the total number of hours you logged that day.

Also, make a note about anything you noticed regarding your productivity on that day. Were you comfortable? How was the lighting? Were you tired or distracted? By tracking the number of hours you study, you will be more motivated to add to the total count. Also, you will be able to quickly assess trends in your studying, such as a reduction in number of hours studied, which will alert you to revamp your program.

…Lots of blank index cards!

And that’s it. 🙂

For a more detailed list of study materials, you should check out the “MCAT Essential Materials” and “MCAT Highly Recommended Materials” subsections in the study schedule.

Click here for Magoosh's 6-month MCAT study schedule

Time to get started!

Ready to jump in? With over a hundred days of instruction, this study schedule definitely has you covered. And don’t forget to leave us your feedback in the comments!

Happy studying! 🙂

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