If you are reading this, test day is coming up and you need a 1 month MCAT study schedule. The MCAT is a tough nut to crack. You can spend months learning everything you need to know about the exam and still score poorly. In my opinion, this is the worst part of the Medical School application process. I spent over six months studying for the MCAT with what I thought was the ideal MCAT study schedule.
The result? A mediocre MCAT score.
- But, I have discovered the key to success with this exam. And I promise you, this strategy works.
- Even though there are tips and tricks to the MCAT that are universal, you have to develop the skills needed to excel on the MCAT at your own pace.
- Overview: MCAT Schedule 1 Month
But, I have discovered the key to success with this exam. And I promise you, this strategy works.
Despite what MCAT companies will tell you, the key is not taking a class or even hiring a private tutor. The answer is much simpler than that.
Although MCAT prep courses are very good at teaching you the subject material on the exam, they are not able to tailor to the specific needs of every student.
I took the Princeton in-class MCAT course. The teachers in this specific program were great. I probably learned more about physics during my MCAT prep than I did during my year worth of physics classes in undergrad. That being said, I ultimately did not master the skills I needed to do well on the MCAT. The teachers did everything they could, but I needed to figure out how to take the actual exam by myself.
Even though there are tips and tricks to the MCAT that are universal, you have to develop the skills needed to excel on the MCAT at your own pace.
In the end of the day, doing well on the MCAT means learning how to take the MCAT. You can review chemistry, biology, physics, and psychology till the cows come home but you won’t do well on this exam if you can’t speak MCAT.
As I said, my MCAT teachers were great and I had access to all the MCAT review content I would ever need. However, I could not bring my MCAT score up whenever I took a practice exam… or the exam itself.
This changed after I started this 1 month MCAT study schedule. And the best part is, I implemented this strategy to improve my average MCAT score by 12 raw points to put me in a competitive bracket. Now, half of the 12 medical schools I applied to have offered me interviews.
Here is the 1 month MCAT study plan that will make you an MCAT expert.
Overview: MCAT Schedule 1 Month
The 1 month MCAT study schedule in a nutshell: Practice test, practice test, practice test.
The best way to practice for the real MCAT is taking the real MCAT over and over. The more practice tests you take, the better.
Simply put, the 1 month MCAT study schedule is a repetitive process of taking a practice test day 1 and then reviewing that test day 2. Doing this over and over will force you to review material that you are struggling with and condition you into taking this 7.5 hour exam.
This is highly focused studying. Every time you review a test, you are focusing only on material that is common to the exam. You are also figuring out why you miss certain questions and how the MCAT tries to trick you. I can’t stress enough how valuable this kind of studying is vs. extra time spent reading a book.
Not going to lie, this will be a tough 30 days. You will need to wait until summer to implement this MCAT study schedule so that you can devote all your time to studying. No time to waste doing anything else but taking the exam and reviewing the material you struggled with.
However, if you stay focused and work hard for 30 days, you will see amazing results.
Before I go into detail about this MCAT study schedule 1 month guide, I will add one disclaimer: this MCAT study plan works best if you have a grasp on the MCAT subjects. In other words, the MCAT prerequisites should be somewhat fresh in your head. This doesn’t mean you need to have everything memorized, but you should remember most of the basic concepts.
If you feel like you need a refresher, take some time to evaluate how much MCAT content review you need to do. Maybe spend some time watching Khan Academy MCAT videos (I wrote a post on the benefits of Khan Academy and how I think it should be used) to refresh yourself on a class or two you haven’t taken in years.
If you haven’t taken your MCAT prerequisites in years, consider devoting 3 or 4 months to studying for this exam. You can then simply tack this MCAT study guide to the end of your study period and still see great results.
Further Reading: Best MCAT Prep Books 2019
Having said all that, this 1 month MCAT study guide will raise your MCAT score a lot regardless of how prepared you are.
Without further ado, here is the detailed breakdown of how to make and execute the 1 month MCAT study plan.
Obviously, you want a solid plan going into this. The preparation period has 3 steps.
Step 1: Gather Together 12-15 MCAT Practice Exams.
You will need 12-15 MCAT practice exams to implement this strategy. The more exams you have the better. You can always do more than 15 practice tests, but I believe 12-15 is a doable and sufficient amount.
So where do you find these 15 MCAT practice exams?
First, we start with the AAMC material. You will have to buy the Official MCAT Prep Bundle from the AAMC. From this material alone we can knock out 9 of the practice tests. There are technically only 4 full-length practice tests (if you count the sample test) but that’s okay. You can “create” the last 5 exams by combining the section bank, question packs, and the official guide questions.
Here is how you make these custom MCAT practice tests.
The MCAT exam is 230 questions. The section bank has 300 questions divided into 100 biological and biochemical foundations of living systems questions, 100 chemical and physical foundations of biological systems questions, and 100 psychological, social, and biological foundations of behaviors questions. There are two biology question packs containing 120 questions each. One chemistry question pack containing 120 questions. One physics question pack containing 120 questions. Two CARS question packs containing 120 questions each. And finally, there is the AAMC official guide which contains 120 questions in all 4 MCAT categories (basically half a test).
If you lump all these questions together, you can make 5 additional MCAT practice tests.
Here is an example of how I organized these questions into the 4 separate categories of the MCAT in order to make 5 practice exams.
As you can see, I divided all the questions into sets of 50 or 60 questions. The actual exam is broken into 3 sets of 59 questions and 1 set of 53 questions, but this is close enough.
Also, I spaced out the actual AAMC MCAT practice exams. I did this because the practice exams are scored and I could use them as checkpoints to see how much progress I was making.
What about the last 3 to 6 exams?
Now we have to turn to 3rd party MCAT companies. In my opinion, Blueprint (formally NextStep) practice MCAT exams are the closest to the real deal. You can get one of their exams for free by signing up for their mailing list. They also have several others for purchase.
And there we go. Step 1 is complete. We have collected 12 to 15 MCAT practice tests.
Step 2: Make a Calendar
Next, you need to make a 30-day calendar to organize which days you will take an exam, review the exam, or take a break.
The basic structure of the exam will be to take a full-length exam one day and then review that exam the next day. This MCAT study schedule can be altered slightly to match the pace of the user. For instance, some people may get away with no breaks and finish up in 25 days. Others might require a 35-day MCAT study schedule to allow more review time and breaks.
Here is an example of what your calendar could look like.
This MCAT calendar is designed for 12 practice exams. There are a few break days and a couple of the AAMC exams have 2 days for review instead of 1. You can always add more tests to this schedule at the cost of a break day or two.
I recommend adding 1 to 3 “cushion” days. You never know when you might need an extra day to take care of something. Your MCAT study schedule must have at least 1 break day before the actual exam! This is very important. Do not study the day before your exam.
Step 3: Clear Your Schedule
Now you will have to figure out when you will take the MCAT. My opinion is to wait until the school year is finished and take it over the summer. As you can tell from the MCAT study schedule above, you will only have time to study for the MCAT. The exam is 7.5 hours long and the review is even longer. Typical college years end in early May. This gives you time to study for the MCAT and take it early June. Not only will you be able to study without any distractions, but this will also allow you to apply to medical school without having to delay too long for the test results.
Also, tell your friends and family what is going on.
It’s summertime. People want to hang out, families go on vacation, and you are stuck in the library studying. It’s only temporary. Time will fly and you will be taking the MCAT before you know it. The benefit of this 1-month MCAT study schedule is that even though it’s intense, it won’t take up your entire summer.
It will all be worth it once you are saving lives as a doctor.
So turn off your phone and cut out the distractions. Let everyone know you are taking the MCAT.
You have successfully prepared for the exam, now it’s time to begin studying.
Step 1: Taking the MCAT Practice Exam
On the days you take a practice exam, make sure to treat this day just like a test day. Wake up early, grab a hearty breakfast, and drive to a location that is not your home. The actual MCAT exam starts at 8 am, so you will be sitting down taking the exam at 8 am. Turn off your phone and put away your notes.
The AAMC and Blueprint (formally NextStep) full-lengths will simulate the exact timing of the actual MCAT exam. They will give you 95 minutes per section (90 for CARS) and they will give you the standard 10-minute breaks and 30-minute lunch. Obviously, the custom tests we created up above are not timed like the full-lengths. You will need to make sure you are timing them with your phone or stopwatch exactly like the real MCAT.
Make sure you are timing your practice tests EXACTLY like the real MCAT. Don’t cheat yourself.
I can’t stress how important this is. One of the most challenging aspects of the MCAT is timing. You need to get a really good feeling about how much time you should devote to every passage and even how long it takes you to eat lunch!
Finally, when the exam is done, take a break. You should be done around 2pm or 3 pm, leaving you with plenty of daylight. This exam overworks your brain, you need to rest before doing a thorough review!
Step 2: Reviewing the MCAT Practice Exam
This is where the learning happens.
Be prepared to get up early and study for a long time. Reviewing the MCAT practice exams takes much longer than doing the actual exam. This will be especially time-consuming in the beginning. Gradually, as you take more tests, you will make fewer mistakes and not need as much reviewing.
Review the questions you got wrong and correct. If it is a passage problem, read the parts of the passage that confused you and figure out why it confused you.
If you need a refresher on a certain concept, I recommend watching Khan Academy MCAT videos on that topic. Khan Academy is great because it organizes all the testable MCAT topics in a way which allows you to easily access a specific concept as needed. For instance, if you missed a question related to viruses, you can simply click on the topic “Viruses” and watch their videos about viruses.
Make sure you only use MCAT text books and websites for review.
This is very important. Although the MCAT is designed to encompass all your premed prerequisites, it focuses on certain criteria more than others. If you are reviewing a particular topic, an MCAT book will give a simple overview while a standard textbook might go into much more detail than needed.
Step 3: Supplement With Extra Review
If you have extra time after reviewing an exam, spend some time going over the pure memorization topics.
Even though it is impossible to memorize everything on the MCAT, there are certain things you just need to memorize. For instance, you need to know all 20 amino acids by heart. There is also a lot of terms to memorize in the psych/soc section. As you review your MCAT practice exams, take note of topics that require pure memorization and spend your extra time in these areas.
Following this strategy, you will see results right away.
One of the beauties of this 1 month MCAT study schedule is that you can see the progress you make. Your first test might not go as well as you planned, but you will see your score increase as you take more and more.
This 1 month MCAT schedule is intense. There is a lot of material out there about how to score high on the MCAT. At the end of the day, the only thing that really matters is how much you practiced the exam. This schedule is designed to make sure you take as many practice exams as possible and really focus your studying on what is really important.
Have any questions? Leave a comment below!