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Jul 21 2007

How long should I take to study for the MCAT?

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Author: Dr. James L Flowers
Category: MCAT Prep Tips

As long as it takes!

This sounds simplistic… and it is. You can find many suggestions on how to study. E.g.,
1. ehow-studying for mcat
2. aamcmcatstudysuggestions
3. studentdoctorforumsuggestions
4. studysuggestionssomethingawful .

The real issue is more profound and penetrating. In determining how long you need to do anything will depend on where you want to go and where you are at in relation to that point. I feel the steps to answer this question are as follows.

Step 1: Set your goal MCAT score. This doesn’t mean you have to get all 12’s or 14’s. It means you should spend some time deciding which medical schools you want to attend, and reviewing their statistics as relate to MCAT scores and GPA’s. The best source for this is found at  AAMC MCAT and GPA Scores.

Step 2: Assess your current MCAT score. The simplest way to get an idea of where you are at currently is to take one or more of the AAMC practice tests. The CBT3 is free…you will have to purchase the others. But, this will give you the most realistic idea of where you are at in relation to your goal.

Step 3: Assess what you need to focus on to bridge the gap between current and goal scores. This can be tricky. The AAMC practice tests provide some analysis of what your strengths and weaknesses are. Start here. You can now spend time on your areas of weakness that will translate into the greatest impact on your target score.

Step 4:  Develop a realistic schedule based on the realities of your life and the results of your practice tests. It is unlikely that there are any two students out there with the same identical factors of goals, current status, strengths and weaknesses, and non-MCAT schedule. This is why certain canned or preset MCAT prep courses will miss the mark for so many students. Use the information you have generated to set your schedule. It should be evident, that the further your current score and goals are apart, the more time it will take. Also, if you have only a limited amount of time per day to study, it will take longer, calendar-wise, for you to prepare. The average student will need 300-400 hours of actual study time.

But, using these steps, you can determine how long you need. I guess after all, it is “as long as it takes” anyway, but with a little more substance and thought. Good luck.

 See these prior entries:

Use of textbooks for MCAT Prep

Best College Major For MCAT