At this point in the semester, a lot of undergrad are probably in the same boat as me. We have spent the last two, or so years focusing on classes, and hopefully passing. Now, the reality that we actually have to study, take, and pass the MCAT is dawning on you. You thought you had so much time, but you realize your MCAT date is only four months away and you still have so much to do. Don't worry. As long as your create a productive study schedule, that you are able to stick through, you should be okay.

Figure out how much time you have to study


The MCAT is a rigorous exam that requires an even more rigorous study schedule. Before you begin studying, you want to see how much time you have until the date you want to take your MCAT, and also take into account your responsibilities. It is recommended that students spend 300-500 hours studying for the MCAT. If you only have two months until your MCAT, that means you need to study for the MCAT 40 hours a week - it basically becomes a full time job, so if you have a job, or classes - you may want to push your MCAT off till you have more time to study.

Figure out your weaknesses

You want to figure out your weaknesses, so while you're developing you plan you are spending more time focusing on the sections you need the most help in. The best way to do this is by taking a full length MCAT exam. You can find a free one through Next Step, or you can take the more accurate full lengths developed by the AAMC that cost about $35. The MCAT is split into four sections: Chem/Phys, CARS, Bio/Biochem, Psych/Soc. Your full length will give you a composite score, as well as a individual score on each section that will help you to better understand your weaknesses, as well as the layout of the MCAT

Buy MCAT prep books/or a course

You don't need to take an MCAT prep course, though some do find it beneficial, but you will definitely need to purchase a set of prep books. There are a variety of MCAT prep books available, but personally i chose Kaplan. However, you can expect the same general things in all prep books: practice questions, extensive lesson review chapters, and some even include full length test. These are all very useful resources for studying.

Sit down and create a daily schedule

Now that you have an idea of the time you have to study, your weaknesses, and you have your prep books - it's time ot create your actual schedule. What worked best for me is buy an daily planner solely for my MCAT prep, and in there I would create a checklist everyday of what topics I wanted to take notes on in my prep books (about 1 hour per chapter), as well, I put in what practice questions I wanted to do (about 1-2 hours spent solely doing practice questions), and then I might spend about an hour completing CARS passages. Of course, you want to spend more time reading and completing practice questions in the areas that you need most work in. As well, around the last month leading up to your exam, you want to try to take a full length test once a week. This should really help you get used to the MCAT format, while practicing concepts

Get started!

You have your study schedule. You know exactly what you need to do everyday, so the only thing left to do is get started! Find a quiet section of the library with no distractions, sit down, and open up your book.

Suggestions based on a 3-4 month study schedule

For the first month or so: Focus on content review. Do the practice questions that are in your prep books, and read the chapters/sections that you find most difficult. Take notes on these sections as well as notes on the questions you got wrong/why you got them wrong. You can even make flashcards if you find this beneficial.

2+: After the first month, you should have most of your content review done, and should really be spending most of your time doing practice questions over and over. I find it best to pick a section, Chem/Phys for example, and do random practice questions on those topics for about two hours. While doing practice questions, you want to ensure you are still taking notes on the questions you got wrong/why you got them wrong. As well, you want to continue practicing your flashcards if you decided to make some. If you find certain subjects are still giving issues, Khan Academy has great MCAT videos that are very effective at explaining concepts.

3+: At this point, you are taking your MCAT very soon. You want to start taking a full length exam once or twice a week at this point. The first full length test you take after two months of studying, should accurately reflect the sections you really need to work on. Spend the remaining days before your exam continuing completing questions in these sections, as well as completing full length exams