How to Create an MCAT Study Schedule that Works for You

We’ll discuss several key principles behind creating a MCAT study schedule, including the importance of setting measurable goals, how to stay motivated and avoid burnout, as well as being flexible and adjusting to your needs.

To succeed on the MCAT, you need to be organized. And with SO much material to keep track of, like hundreds of hours of material, it’s easy to get lost, feel frustrated, and walk away. Thankfully, we’re here to help you focus and rocket to your goal score by giving you the tips and strategies you’ll need to kick off your long and important MCAT prep journey. It all starts with the creation of your own study schedule to guide the way.

Oh, and maybe actually scheduling your MCAT because slots do fill up quickly!


Set Goals

How to Create an MCAT Study Schedule - SketchyAll good study MCAT study schedules start by setting your goals. Specific, measurable, and achievable. If you plan with these three words on repeat, you’re gonna rock your MCAT prep…unlike all of your other resolutions you’ve briefly committed to this year.

Let’s walk through each goal-setting concept so they’re all Caribbean turquoise clear.

First up, be specific. Don’t just say that you’re “going to take practice exams.” Say “I will take 6 practice exams before my exam date.” 

Now, did you notice that the specific goal contained a number? Having numbers attached to your goals means that you can track your progress and know exactly where you stand. No surprises. Keep those for laundry day when you discover a few extra bucks in your pocket. Hopefully before they go through the wash cycle.

And speaking of cycles, be careful of the vicious cycle of comparing yourself to others. Your goals are YOUR goals that will only work for YOU. We’re not talking about your best friend who scored a 528 and learned three languages last year. I’m not saying that you won’t achieve those goals if they are indeed your goals, but common, you already know three languages, don’t you?


Stay Motivated and Avoid Burnout

How to Create an MCAT Study Schedule - SketchyOK, it’s time for a little more praise. Kudos to your commitment of finding ways to optimize how you prep for the MCAT. MCAT prep demands will spill into your social life, or perhaps make you feel like it’s non-existent. The good news is that there are a few key principles to help you plan around your obligations, stay motivated, and avoid burnout.   

The first principle to follow is being consistent, like choosing consistent times of the day to study, and maybe even a consistent location. Establishing healthy habits and routines really are the secrets to success.

Don’t worry if you feel like you’re consistently struggling. That’s normal. And don’t be afraid to let your communities know what you're up to and the social pressures you might be feeling. The intellectual burden is REAL.

That’s why we also suggest that you take one day off per week. Your mental health is important and you need to figure out what works best for you to reduce stress. You probably won’t be yachting off to the Maldives. But if you do, we know some great travel companions. Seriously though, make sure to include down time to keep you fresh regardless if you’re prepping for 3, 6, or 12 months.   


Organize Your Resources

How to Create an MCAT Study Schedule - SketchyNow, if we haven’t said it enough yet, we’re gonna say it at least one more time: Your MCAT prep is unique to you based on your schedule, your content knowledge, your needs, and your budget. We’ve discussed strategies for picking the best resources that fit your style in previous blog posts. Make sure to check out Comparing and Contrasting Different MCAT Prep Options and How to Review MCAT Practice Test Results Like a Pro


Establish Your Baseline

How to Create an MCAT Study Schedule - SketchySpeaking of practice tests, we strongly recommend that you take a diagnostic exam or practice test and review your results at the beginning of your MCAT prep. Doing so will provide the baseline you need to structure your perfect schedule. It’ll be perfect because it will contain the topics YOU should focus on. Your strengths may be someone else’s weaknesses. And your strengths and weaknesses may change over time, so don’t freak out. You’re in control and can adjust topics on a week-by-week or month-to-month basis.     


Your Study Schedule

You’ll see all of our tips and strategies built into this awesome sample 3-month study schedule. But we can’t just stop there. We do have a few more suggestions to make your MCAT study schedule even more awesome. Like you’ll be so proud of it that you’ll post it in the fridge for all of your roommates or family members to see. Maybe we should even make some cool Sketchy character stickers to reward you along the way. We’re not kidding. Let us know if you’ll use them.

OK, first things first, write in your dates to make the schedule REAL. And then you can start to plan your days and get into YOUR routine. Although you’re in a routine, every day will be different. Different subjects, different questions, and different passages.

If you’re on a 3-month schedule, plan for at least 20 hours of study per week. You can reduce the hours per week if you have more time, such as a 6-month schedule, in which you can plan on studying around 10 hours per week. It’s always a good idea to block off more time than you think. If you don’t need it, well, reward yourself for #winning. And if you fall behind, try to start the next week on schedule and fit in the work you missed into the next one or two weeks. If you can’t catch up, consider shifting your schedule forward, and don’t hesitate to move your exam date if you won’t be ready.

Another clutch rule to live by, practice CARS every day. Yikes, I hear your moans and groans and can relate. I went into Engineering so I didn’t have to read a lot of boring articles or books that just collected dust. So, if you’re a scrawny Engineering major like me, you’ll DEFINITELY want to read CARS-like academic or journalistic writing every day to build your CARS muscles.

Finally, in terms of content review, we recommend starting with the foundations in Biochemistry and Biology before you layer on Chemistry and Physics. Then finish off with the icing, that is Psychology and Sociology. Along the way, make sure to coordinate your content review for the same topic across your resource types. For example, mix your Physics Qbank questions into your Physics sessions. If you have access to more full-length exams beyond AAMC tests, weave them into the second half of your study schedule. And try to avoid taking more than one full-length exam every five to seven days.

Since your studying days are now numbered, make sure to include Sketchy in your plans to save you more than a few hours of studying time! Your friends and family will thank you.

 Save 15% off Sketchy with code SHOWDOWN15 Let the games begin.



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