For aspiring medical school students, meticulous preparation, tireless studying, and sleepless nights tend to be synonymous the admissions process. But it’s a single acronym that tends to inject the most paralyzing fear and dread in the hearts of each medical school applicant: M-C-A-T.
Every year thousands of aspiring doctors, practitioners, therapists and professionals attempt to beef their medicinal and scientific knowledge, all in hopes of achieving an exemplary score.
And though it may differ from student to student, many medical professionals and current med school students cite MCAT preparation and test taking as one of the most grueling and time-consuming components to their current career.
In order to ensure you’re dream school is within reach, it’s necessary to form some kind of MCAT study schedule.
However, just as no two applicants are identical, no two MCAT study plans should contain paths that mirror one another. Although the bulk of your preparation will come in the form of complex chemistry, biology and physics equations, consider taking note of some of the ways you can create a perfectly customized MCAT study schedule for your test-taking success.
MCAT Study Schedule Basics
Ideally, individuals looking to take the MCAT within the upcoming year should allot three to six months of persistent preparation and studying beforehand.
Ultimately, this equates to roughly 300 hours spent bent over books, crammed in study sessions and cutting flashcards.
However, not all MCAT study schedule habits will bear similar qualities for each applicant.
1. Find out how you learn best.
Although former instructors may have crammed a certain studying or learning style down your throat in the past, a customized MCAT study schedule is the perfect way to start playing off your unique studying styles.
Do you accumulate information most effectively solo or in a group? Are you keener in strictly memorizing, or incorporating practice tests?
Would you benefit from the help of a tutor? There’s a fairly good chance you’re well-versed in certain MCAT subjects more than others. Consider enlisting the help of a tutoring service or faculty member for your weakest areas.
2. Disperse your studying.
Although you’ll need to be putting some serious hours into your MCAT study schedule, try opting for a more dispersed time frame for each session. Although cramming sessions may have sufficed in certain college lectures, the MCAT is a substantial and weighty exam – never leave your score up to chance.
While you’ll need to be putting in an extensive amount of time, try opting for under two hours for each session. Studies have proven that study sessions lasting longer than two hours are associated directly with a decreased amount of productivity.
3. Carve out unique ways to hit the books.
For a sizable majority of applicants, dedicating an hour or two to solely studying for the MCAT can be a challenge – especially for those already knee-deep in an undergraduate program. To ensure you reach your studying quota for the week, try breaking up your sessions into convenient smaller ones.
Take the time to form some flash cards for quick, effective and simple studying. A set of cards can be ripped out while on the bus, during commercial breaks, or in between classes.
4. Find a suitable environment to study in.
Although portable flash cards can provide an excellent means of studying on-the-go, try to allot the bulk of your studying to a single place, such as a library or other quiet study space.
Try to avoid studying solely from home. Although you’ll certainly enjoy the comfort of channel-surfing and resorting to couch-napping every now and then, it’ll likely detract from your studying diligence over time.
While you can toy with the various ways of forming the pitch-perfect MCAT study plan, the only true method for testing success is consistency. Always keep your career goals just beyond the horizon, and always relate the work you’re completing now as a necessary step towards your future medical career.