In order to properly answer that question, we need to uncover just how much time you have before the test. Here are some questions to answer followed by an example schedule.
When are you taking the test?
EX: May 18th
How important is that test date?
EX: I’d like to at least finish the MCAT by May so I can apply with the scores a month later in June.
If it’s flexible, would you feel more comfortable postponing it?
EX: I don’t feel comfortable postponing it. I’m at a 6 or 7 confidence level when it comes to the MCAT right now.
Okay, now that we’ve got the MCAT test date set, I’d recommend studying every day. Again it’s a lifestyle change. Much like you eat, sleep and work – you’re going to be studying for the MCAT just as often. With that being said, what’s your sleep schedule like?
EX: 1am – 8:30am
I recommend 6 hours of solid sleep, from 11:30pm – 6:30am, is this manageable?
EX: It’s going to be hard getting up at 6:30am every day, but I’ll do it.
Okay, now, what are non-negotiable hours of the day (ie. work hours or church or school)?
EX: I graduated already, so I work in a research lab 3 days a week MWF from 9am-2pm
So you have 4 days a week of solid studying plus 3 days a week of limited studying. Now in order to maintain stamina for the next few weeks of studying, it’s necessary to implement some parts of the routine which promote a healthy mind and body. Do you exercise, meditate, read, listen to music, go for walks etc?
EX: Yeah I just usually go for walks and watch TV and hang out with my boyfriend when I have spare time.
Okay, and of all the sections of the MCAT, what are you most comfortable tackling right away?
EX: CARS for sure
So we’ll make sure to warm up every study session with CARS and incorporate time for walks, TV and your relationship. I think I have all I need to generate a schedule. Today’s date is 2/17/17 and your test is on 5/18/17 – that gives you roughly 12 weeks to study. 4 days times 12 weeks gives you 48 days of uninterrupted studying. At 8 hours of study per day that’s 356 hours of uninterrupted studying plus 3 days per week times 4 hours of interrupted studying would give you a total of 500 hours of studying.
Perfect. 500 hours of studying.
Remember, 500 hours is only 0.1% of the rest of your life.
Here’s another way to think about it:
Out of 1440 minutes of a single day 0.1% is equivalent to about a minute and a half. Think about jogging at a fast pace for a minute and a half.
Sure, it’s hard work, but you can do it.
Once you do it, you’ll feel great.
For the sake of posterity, here’s an example of a schedule I put together for one of my students. He only had 336 hours to study, but it was uninterrupted daily MCAT work for 6 weeks straight.
He ended up improving his score from a 497 to a 505 in 6 weeks.
Later on, we’ll cover how to track your time and keep yourself accountable.
Here’s a quick recap:
- Find out exactly how much time you have to study
- Draft a realistic schedule that will provide you with the right mind-body balance in order to provide you with the stamina to undergo hours of focused study.