Once you decide to commit yourself to studying for the MCAT (AAMC MCAT), one of the first logical questions you’ll ask yourself is, “Where do I start, and what’s the best way to study?” After you poke around online you’ll find that most premeds rely on some kind of MCAT study schedule to tell them where to go and what to do.
An MCAT study schedule tells you what to study, when to study, and how long to study (When should you take the MCAT?). The rigid and pre-defined nature of an MCAT study schedule closely resembles what you’re used to from college classes: a course syllabus with outlined steps and occasional quizzes and test.
You’ll find MCAT study schedules inside of live prep courses (think Kaplan and Princeton Review), prep books, and in online programs like S2NED. Read more about those in “The Top 4 Ways to Study For the MCAT.”
Why Study Schedules Lead You Down the Wrong Path
Sticking to a lock-step study schedule is a decent way to get yourself to actually start studying, but there’s one big trap that lies inside the “follow the dotted lines” approach to MCAT prep.
Here’s the problem: Strict study schedules don’t allow you to focus on your weakness. Instead, they expect you to devote equal time to each MCAT section. That’s a big mistake.
Devoting equal time to each section is a mistake because you’re likely to be strong in one or two subjects and weaker in another, so when you devote equal time to each section you neglect your weakest section and your lowest score never improves.
A big secret: Your odds of acceptance go way up if you raise an MCAT section score from 8 to 10. If you raise a 10 to an 11, you’re not really reaping much of a reward. Focusing on your lower scores is far more important than studying for the sections you already ace.
Don’s MCAT Study Schedule/Plan That Works
The best study schedule is the one you create yourself. I know that’s not the answer you’re looking for, but hear me out. There’s an easy way to do it.
Start by assessing your weakest section first. Take one free practice test online (E-mcat) and identify your weakest section. Drill into that section like a cavity! Of course you’ll still need to study for the other sections too, but you need to dedicate far more energy to your weak spot.
Whether you’re using an MCAT prep book, online MCAT prep materials, or a live MCAT prep course like my MCAT Club, the custom-tailored study schedule that hones in on your weakest subject is by far the most effective way to boost your score.
I provide a self-assessment to all members of The MCAT Club, so if you have any doubts about where to start and how to study for the MCAT, join the Club now and take my self-assessment. It will point you in the right direction and help you avoid wasting time on study plans that won’t work for you.