Ready, Set, Go!
IMPORTANT: read the whole schedule before you start this plan so you’re aware of the full breadth of what you need to cover and the basic way that it’s structured. You don’t want any surprises in your MCAT study plan.
As you get started, remember that study plans are a personal thing. Everybody is beginning at a different point, everybody takes a different amount of time to learn different things, and everybody has their own style for how to approach the MCAT prep process. It’s not going to take you exactly the time allotted in the schedule to complete that exact list of tasks. If you finish everything on the list and still have more time on your study clock, get a head start on your list for the next day or use the extra time to study a topic that you are worried about. That way, when you run into something that’s a challenge for you, you won’t fall behind.
Week 1 (25 hours): Break the ice
- Review MCAT essentials. Make sure you know the basics about how the MCAT works (logistics, timelines, etc.) and that you understand the registration process.
- Pick your MCAT test date. If registration is already open for your date, register. If it’s too early to register, put a note on your calendar for the date registration opens and be sure to register as soon as you can (some dates fill up fast!). Either way, make a decision about when you are going to take the test on day one of your studying. It’s your goal post for this entire journey, so you need to know exactly when it is.
- Personalize your study plan. If this plan doesn’t fit your schedule or your resources exactly, think about the adjustments you need to make now. Study plans are personal, and everybody has a real-life schedule that needs to work with his or her MCAT schedule! Going to a wedding one weekend that you know will knock out a few study days? Make a plan now for how you’ll make up those hours before or after. Have some additional practice tests you want to take? Think about when you will take them and how much time you should allow for them.
- Watch the Introduction and Strategy section of the video course. Be aware that our video course is much more fast-paced than others you may have experienced (Khan Academy, for example). It can be tempting to binge-watch, but to get the most out of the videos resist that urge! Instead, watch the videos when you are feeling alert and ready to focus, pause the video frequently to reflect, take notes, etc. Most importantly, when you get to a practice question, STOP THE VIDEO and answer the question on your own (even if you have to guess) before the explanation. Watch a few videos a day throughout the week, instead of watching all on one day. You’ll retain more information that way, plus, it will help you stay focused each day because you will be consuming info through multiple modalities (video, physical book, interactive online practice).
- Read Chem/Phys: Physical properties of matter. Remember that this is a study guide, not a textbook. It’s going to let you know right away, with just one read-through, whether you have a topic down, or whether it’s an area where you’re going to need some more work. Read the section of the Study Guide first, identify topics (if any) in which you need more work, and use that list of topics to structure your deep-dive studying. You can use any textbooks you have, your old class notes, or even just general Internet. The Internet is full of great resources for reviewing basic science content! Once you’re feeling good about covering your weak topics, read the section of the Study Guide again. If it all makes sense and you feel good about it, check the section off, and move on. If not, highlight or make a list of the topics you’re still not 100 percent confident about. You can come back to them later when you have extra time in your study schedule, as well as during your review weeks closer to test day.
- Read Bio/Biochem: Proteins. Same process as above.
- Read Psych/Social: The senses; the nervous system. Same process as above.
- Read something challenging and not directly MCAT-related. There’s no content to learn for CARS, but incorporating difficult, not-necessarily-interesting-to-you reading into your study schedule can help you improve your focus and comprehension for the real thing. Plus, it can be a nice break for your brain from all of that science!
- Complete the AAMC MCAT Sample Question Guide. Even at this early stage, do your practice questions right. Complete at least a whole passage on your own before you check your answers (no peeking!). Ideally, work through the whole Sample Question Guide in one sitting, and then review all at once. Remember that reviewing your practice is absolutely THE most important thing you are going to do among all of the important things that you do to get ready for the MCAT. Review thoroughly and thoughtfully, and take notes about topics or question types that are challenging for you.