When you’re studying hard for the MCAT you may notice that the test manages to sneak its way into every other aspect of your life. At the same time, we realize (conceptually, at least) that taking a break is just as important to MCAT success as those long 8-hour study days. Finding time to do other things literally gives your brain an opportunity to recover and solidify the concepts and skills you just spent all day working on. Even short 10 minute long breaks give your brain the opportunity to recoup and refocus. In essence, taking MCAT study breaks can help boost your MCAT score!
“MCAT students underestimate the power of 60-minute study sessions. While it’s true that you also need longer chunks of time to drill down on content and to take practice tests, your 60-minute sessions will be a lifesaver. By allowing yourself to study in bursts, you’ll log more overall study time each week, and you’ll be less likely to procrastinate.”
–Magoosh MCAT Expert, Kat Thomson
Take It From Me
As an MCAT test-taking veteran, I’ve utilized marathon-style study methods wherein I’d sit at a desk in a room (usually with no windows) for upwards of 8 hours studying. It’s no fun and in the end, it did nothing to help me achieve my goal MCAT score. Not only did I burn out, I also spent a lot of that time avoiding the task at hand. When I finally realized that this method of studying was ineffective, I made a point to add in 5-10 minute breaks every hour. I also scheduled time off to do things that were not MCAT-related at all. I felt so much better about studying and my MCAT score reflected that. Even still, I know what it’s like to be “in the zone” and how hard it is to peel yourself away from the books when you have your eyes on the prize. So here are my best MCAT study breaks that help keep you fresh and focused.
Best MCAT Study Breaks
- Hang out with people who aren’t taking the MCAT – The journey to becoming a physician requires you to spend a LOT of your time with like-minded individuals. If we’re not careful, medicine (and the pursuit thereof) can completely consume us. It helps to spend time with loved ones who couldn’t care less about the MCAT or med school, even though they totally support you and your goals. It will allow you to see that life is still going on outside of the MCAT.
- Enjoy a hobby – Taking time out for hobbies may be able to serve a dual purpose. Med schools love to hear about your hobbies outside of medicine! Take time to do things you truly love, like reading, watching movies, creating art, or playing sports — not just things you think med schools want to hear.
- Schedule your time off – Even with the best MCAT study break ideas, it’s easy to feel guilty about not studying. Scheduling your time off, whether its short study breaks or a day off, helps to relieve that lingering feeling because you know it’s a part of your study schedule and will ultimately help you build time-management skills for the MCAT. Make the most of it!