Get a jumpstart on your test prep by following this 6-month MCAT® study plan written by Kaplan experts. Planning out your MCAT study schedule is the best way to stay organized and avoid falling into the trap of procrastination. Even with six months to prepare for the MCAT, you will need to set aside a good chunk of study time each week to earn a competitive MCAT score. Remember: the MCAT does not solely reward you for your content knowledge—it rewards your ability to apply the content; this is what differentiates test takers from each other and why you should give yourself plenty of time to study for the MCAT. Let’s take a look at how the next six months should shape up for you.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- MCAT 6-Month Study Plan: Month 1
- MCAT 6-Month Study Plan: Month 2
- MCAT 6-Month Study Plan: Month 3
- MCAT 6-Month Study Plan: Month 4
- MCAT 6-Month Study Plan: Month 5
- MCAT 6-Month Study Plan: Month 6
- MCAT 6-Month Study Plan: The Week Before the MCAT
- Is Six Months Enough Time to Study for the MCAT?
- Top MCAT Study and Practice Materials
MCAT 6-Month Study Plan: Month 1
Here is a step-by-step process for kicking off your 6-month MCAT study plan.
Begin your MCAT prep by taking a practice test or question set that covers all the topics on the MCAT. This will help you familiarize yourself with the test structure and content and establish your baseline performance. The MCAT Sample Test is a great resource for this. Kaplan also has a free online practice test and three full-length tests included with the Kaplan MCAT Books.
Once you’ve taken your first practice test and have a diagnostic score, use your results to determine which MCAT content areas you need to work on the most. Use your test score to modify the below study plan to meet your needs. For example, if you did well on all endocrine system and immunology questions, you might only study those topics briefly and focus more of your energy on biology subjects you didn’t do as well with, such as cell biology and genetics.
Build a personalized weekly study schedule. Proactively fill in your calendar with study blocks, planning on studying at least three hours per day, six days per week. Put specific topics to study into each block so you use your time well and ensure that you have en ough prep time set aside. Give yourself a day off of studying every week so you have time to recharge.
Set up a rotating schedule that works through these MCAT topics:
Use the AAMC Sample Questions and Sections and choose passages based on the content areas you have reviewed for realistic test practice. You should study for the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS) section every day. Use the AAMC Sample Questions and Sections to read passages and work on passage-related questions.
Begin with the basics of each subject area, and focus on a different topic each day. You’ll want to spend at least an hour to an hour and a half on each study topic.
Building a Weekly MCAT Study Schedule
In the first month, you will also want to build out your MCAT study schedule. Map out each week with a variety of topics covered to spread out your content review and practice, and be sure to include a day off from studying to avoid burnout.
Here is a recommended weekly MCAT study schedule:
|Biology, Biochemistry, and CARS
|General Chemistry and CARS
|Organic Chemistry and CARS
|Physics and CARS
|Psychology and Sociology and CARS
|Revisit problem areas and modify Study Plan
Tyler Fara, Manager of Content and Instructional Design, MCAT, DAT, OAT, PCAT
“Think of the MCAT as an opportunity. We’ve all struggled with certain topics in chemistry, physics, biology and so on. But you’re older now, you’ve seen other sciences and more advanced classes, and you’re a better student today than you were before. As you study for this test, there are going to be so many moments where you think, “I finally understand this topic! It finally makes sense!” Seek those moments out. Don’t shy away from a topic just because it challenged you previously. This test is your opportunity to overcome those prior obstacles.”
MCAT 6-Month Study Plan: Month 2
In your second month, continue your content review, but begin to incorporate a little more practice. Remember: the more you practice, the better you will retain the content and the more second nature it will become for you. Start using Kaplan’s MCAT Qbank to get customized quizzes that fulfill your prep needs. This is also the time to begin building your passage reading and question-answering skills.
MCAT 6-Month Study Plan: Month 3
Your primary goal for your third month of MCAT prep is to complete your initial content review. You’ll continue to review content as you progress, but you’ll want to finish the bulk of it now, so you are only revisiting topics as necessary in the upcoming months. Incorporate even more practice, pivoting to longer quizzes that target some of your weaker areas. If there is science content that you struggle with, be sure to brush up on it now, so you have plenty of time to practice with it as you move towards test day.
At the end of this month, take your first full-length exam since establishing your baseline in month one. Even more importantly, schedule at least three days to review your full-length exam (and track it on a Why I Missed It Sheet). In reviewing the first full-length exam, you will uncover your areas of opportunity, which is where you will want to pivot to next.
MCAT 6-Month Study Plan: Month 4
At the beginning of this month, start to take section-length exams, followed by another full-length exam in the middle of the month to continue building your critical thinking and test-taking skills. Review this new full-length exam to identify where you should place your focus. Meanwhile, practice in your areas of opportunity to build your overall MCAT test-taking skills.
MCAT 6-Month Study Plan: Month 5
This month will look a lot like the fourth month, but now you should be getting into a rhythm. Take one full-length exam at least every ten days (or take one per week if you want to get more practice in before test day), and continue reviewing the full-length exams to hone in on your areas of opportunity, and follow that up with practice.
MCAT 6-Month Study Plan: Month 6
The MCAT is right around the corner—you’re in the home stretch! Take one full-length practice test per week (or so) but no more than that so you have plenty of time to review them. This is also when you will want to adjust your sleeping patterns so you are ready to wake up on time on test day. Continue to focus on your areas of opportunity, but don’t get bogged down in every single topic. Focus on the higher yield topics.
MCAT 6-Month Study Plan: The Week Before the MCAT
The last week before you take the MCAT is critical. Ideally, your last full-length exam will be on the same day of the week you are taking the actual MCAT, just a week earlier. Once again, start the week by taking and reviewing your practice test, looking over every question, and using the results to modify your study plan if needed.
What to Do the Week Before the MCAT
- Early in the week, take an AAMC Practice Test. Set aside time to review the test.
- For your remaining few days, spend time reviewing the content areas that were your biggest opportunities on your last full-length test. If you’ve never truly mastered a topic, though, now is not the time to attempt to learn it. Instead, focus on the material that you struggled with the first time through but think you can master given just a little more time.
- If you have time, travel to the testing center first to ensure you know how to get to the correct building, where to park, and where your test room is. Having all these logistics out of the way will help reduce your stress on test day—and ensure you aren’t late!
- Take the day before the test completely off; your brain needs to rest before the marathon of test-taking to come! Eat healthy, balanced meals and get a full night of rest to mentally and physically prepare for test day. On the day you take the MCAT, wake up with plenty of time to spare, and be sure to eat breakfast before leaving.
MCAT 6-Month Study Plan: The Final Week Schedule
Here’s a recommended schedule of what to do the week before the MCAT:
|AAMC Practice Test
|Test Review and Study Planning for Final Week
|Final Content Review
|Final Content Review, Visit Test Center
|Final Content Review
With this 6-month MCAT study plan, you should be well on your way to test day success. While you’re preparing for the MCAT, it might seem like the end of your studying will never come. But it will, and thanks to your diligent preparation, you can feel confident walking into the test.
Is Six Months Enough Time to Study for the MCAT?
Yes, for most students six months is enough time to study for the MCAT. Kaplan recommends studying for the MCAT over a period of four to six months for a total of 300 to 350 hours. Getting started on your MCAT studies early means you’ll have more time to focus on each subject area and overall MCAT test strategy. Following a 6-month MCAT study plan, like the one below, will help you avoid burnout and stay on track to take the test in six months’ time.
Top MCAT Study and Practice Materials
Here are the study materials we recommend using during your 6-month MCAT study schedule.
Kaplan MCAT Resources
- MCAT Practice Questions: Kaplan’s MCAT QBank saves you time with targeted questions. You’ll learn from your mistakes and raise your score with in-depth explanations.
- MCAT Question of the Day: Sign up for free to receive realistic MCAT practice questions delivered straight to your inbox.
- Kaplan’s MCAT Complete 7-Book Subject Review + Online Resources: With Kaplan’s MCAT books, you not only get the printed resources that cover the subject matter from all the test sections but also access to three full-length practice tests online and additional science videos. The book set is worthwhile for these tests alone since they provide realistic practice that includes scaled scores and percentiles for each section as well as detailed explanations for every question. Additionally, Kaplan’s MCAT 528 Advanced Prep Book and Online Resources will give you more preparation.
- MCAT Flashcards: Prep for the MCAT on the go with 1,000 essential flashcards to help you master the material and increase your MCAT score.
- Take a Class: If the idea of studying for the MCAT on your own is stressful, consider taking an MCAT prep class such as Live Online, On Demand, or In Person—all teach you the strategies and skills you’ll need to score high on the MCAT. The courses’ study plans will help you decide what to study, when to take practice tests, and how to perform your best on test day. Students who put in the work with Kaplan raise their score by 15 points on average.*
AAMC® MCAT Resources
- AAMC’s MCAT Essentials Guide: Before you register for the MCAT, you’ll be required to review the official information in the Essentials Guide. You’ll learn about test logistics, content, and timing. If you’re just beginning your MCAT prep, this is a great place to start.
- AAMC Full-Length Tests: The AAMC offers four full-length practice tests to purchase online.
- AAMC Free Planning & Study Resources: The AAMC offers free resources to students studying for the MCAT, such as a Free Sample Test which has the same look, feel, length, and functionality as the actual exam.
- AAMC Sample Questions and Sections: The AAMC website offers two different packages of practice questions. The first is the Official MCAT Section Bank, which includes 300 practice questions in section packs of natural sciences, behavioral sciences, and social sciences. The second is the Official MCAT Question Pack, which has passages and questions from old MCAT tests covering Biology, Physics, Chemistry, and Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS).
- Online calendar: Online calendars are helpful for keeping track of and being able to access your personal MCAT study plan from anywhere. Stay accountable by sharing your calendar with others so they know your schedule and can help you stay on track.
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*15 point average only applied to students who completed 6,000+ practice questions and 600+ study activities during their program. A recent study conducted by Kaplan showed that students who completed a minimum of this work saw an average score improvement of 15 points from their first to their highest practice exam. Students who started with lower scores saw greater increases. Students who completed fewer practice questions, study activities, or who did not engage in the full program, saw lower score increases. Learn More.