Figuring out how to study for the MCAT, create a balanced schedule, and prepare effectively can be a daunting task, so we’ve gathered up some helpful tips and resources to help you get started!
Creating a Study Schedule
In general, it is recommended that you spend 3-4 months studying for the MCAT, especially if you are looking to score in the higher percentiles. When making arrangements for your studying, it is important to set a balanced, feasible, and sustainable schedule that accommodates your other time commitments, such as work, volunteering, classes, etc. While everyone’s day-to-day activities look different, here is a helpful schedule that gives you a better idea of what a good study schedule looks like! It is also important to note that in your last few weeks of studying, you should aim to complete a number of full-length practice exams. The most accurate ones come straight from the AAMC, but there are many prep companies that also have full-length practice exams to purchase.
General tip: if you are getting within a few points (+/- 2 points) of your target score in your final full-length practice exams, you should be good on test day!
Practice Exams and Paid Resources
There are many prep companies and websites that offer practice full-length exams as well as other paid resources, such as online courses, question banks, and tutoring. Here is a comprehensive list of some websites to look at! Most prep companies (Blueprint, Altius, PR) also have free diagnostic practice exams! However, take this with a grain of salt since each company’s scoring is different.
- Practice exams are the most representative of the MCAT.
- The full bundle (4 exams + question packs) is highly recommended!
- They also offer a free un-scored sample exam.
- Blueprint / NextStep
- Each practice exam has 5 attempts, so you can use one account and split the cost with friends!
- Their practice exams are fairly representative of the actual exam. They also offer online courses.
- Offer online self-study programs of different bundles/prices
- Live online two-month course (as recommended by an advisor)
- They provide online practice tests, a complete 7-book MCAT Subject Review Set, a question bank that can be divided into different sections of the MCAT/topics within the sections, optional channel sessions focusing on specific concepts (ex: thermodynamics), and a study plan to go with the flow of the course. See this link and scroll to see all the features.
- Before class: content review (mostly done by yourself)
- Every session, you are to complete a diagnostic quiz that gives suggestions on what topics you should focus on and videos to help you review before class.
- During class: MCAT strategies
- Instructors go through high yield questions. They teach you how to read the passage, what to look for, the types of questions asked, and the types of answers choices that are usually right/wrong. However, they do not emphasize content review during class.
- They offer many types of courses, including winter boot camps, self-paced schedules, and tutoring.
- UWorld (question bank)
- Different bundles: free 7-day trial, 90 days, 180 days, 360 days
- Questions (both passage and individual content) for Orgo, Gen Chem, Physics, CARS, Biochem, and Bio.
Review Books and Other (Free) Resources
In preparing for the MCAT, content review is still very important and can be done in a variety of ways. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
- Kaplan 7-Book Subject Review (most popular)
- Edition doesn’t matter very much as though the content is similar across all.
- You can usually find a discount or buy a used version for a reduced price!
- Princeton Review and many others
General tip: the practice questions in some of these review books tend to be more detailed than you’ll see on the actual MCAT. It is more useful to use these books for content review as opposed to full-length exams.
- Psych/Soc Content Review Document (300 and 90-page versions)
- Anki – MilesDown MCAT Decks (Ortho528/premed95/miledown)
- Reddit MCAT section (use with a grain of salt)
- Khan Academy videos
- Dr. Ryan Grey’s MCAT podcast
- MPrep Daily Questions, Kaplan, BluePrint – question of the day sent to your email
- Jack Westin – daily CARS passages sent to your email
- The website also has passages and content review questions for the other sections too.
It’s no doubt that studying for the MCAT can be overwhelmed and stressful, but even the smallest of organization and structure can make your studying more bearable and effective. No matter where you are in your MCAT journey, just know that this time will pass and your hard work will pay off!
Feel free to read any of our other blog posts on the MCAT for more helpful tips.