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5 Tips to Prep for the MCAT During the School Year

With the Fall semester in full swing, you might already be wondering how you’re going to juggle your full course load while still building up your medical school application resume. However, there’s also one big hurdle you have to cross before you start thinking about applying: the Medical School Admissions Test (better known as the MCAT). 

Let’s face it, the MCAT is a difficult exam to study for at any time. Still, it gets harder when you try to prep for it while you’re still in school. That’s why it’s so important to balance your MCAT prep schedule with your class schedule without accidentally burning yourself out. With the tips in this article, you’ll be able to enter the room on your MCAT test date confidently and well-prepared.

How To Manage Your MCAT Prep Schedule With Your College Schedule

1. Accept Your Fate Now

Sorry to say, but you’re probably going to have to skip quite a bit of late nights and adventures with friends. You might even get upset to find that you’re paying for a streaming service you’ll hardly use. Between your classes, homework, volunteering/shadowing, MCAT prep, and sleeping, you may not have time to devote to much else. The sooner you accept that, the easier it will be to say “No” when your roommate invites you out on a Wednesday night.

However, don’t set your phone to “Focus” or “Do Not Disturb” permanently! You should still make sure to schedule at least one day off from MCAT prep to recharge. So don’t abandon your other hobbies. You’ll need an outlet to destress and stay on track. Remember the sacrifices you make now will pay off in the future.

2. Make an MCAT Prep Schedule

It’s easy to say you’ll commit to completing some content review every Monday and Wednesday and taking a practice MCAT exam every Saturday. However, unless you create a real MCAT study schedule, you run the risk of forgetting or procrastinating. An MCAT study schedule keeps you organized and accountable, and it can even make this entire ordeal a lot more manageable by breaking it up into achievable daily tasks and milestones. You can create a free MCAT study schedule when you make a Blueprint MCAT account.

3. Be Realistic

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We know your heart would sink to your stomach if we said you absolutely need to devote four to six hours to MCAT prep every single night. Sure, some students might be able to commit to that, but many of you won’t—and there’s nothing wrong with that! Aim for quality over quantity.

A couple of really focused study sessions will always surpass nights where you are exhausted, half-asleep, and likely to forget half of what you read by the next morning. However, if you find that you have enough time in your day to watch multiple reruns of “Grey’s Anatomy,” you might have more time to devote to prep than you originally thought.

If your school schedule is particularly heavy, plan your MCAT prep accordingly. You might need to prep for a slightly longer period than a non-traditional student who is applying during their gap year.

That said, there’s always the possibility of extending your prep and taking the MCAT at a later date. If you’re truly pressed for time and don’t want to rush through your MCAT prep (which you shouldn’t), start prepping at least six months before your proposed test date, keeping in mind where you will be in the medical school application cycle. The average MCAT test taker preps for about 300 hours.

Some students can successfully prep on their own with a self-paced MCAT course. If you are the type of person who needs a little more accountability, you might want to consider a live MCAT class or even an MCAT tutor.

4. Get the Right Materials

If you’re going to spend hours studying for the MCAT and making sacrifices toward your dream of becoming a doctor, wouldn’t you want to use only the best materials? Representative MCAT prep is vital to your success. The official AAMC resources are a given in any strong MCAT prep schedule, but they are not enough to cover all of the content you need to know or get in the practice you need to see your score increase. Try to find MCAT prep materials that are as close to the real MCAT as possible, like Blueprint MCAT’s full-length practice exams.

5. Sneak MCAT Prep into Your Daily Life

Finally, here’s a not-so-secret trick to keep MCAT content at the top of your mind: make it part of your daily routine. Are you taking organic chemistry or a psychology class this semester? Save your notes for your content review. Can’t tear yourself away from social media? Follow some MCAT or premed Instagram or TikTok accounts to receive motivational quotes, tips, advice, and Questions of the Day in your feed. You can call it scrolling with intention. The MCAT prepares you to one day save a life, so why not really make it part of your own while you study for it?

And there you have it, five helpful tips to tackle MCAT prep during the school year! Because who needs a life outside of textbooks, content modules, and practice exams, right? But in all seriousness, these strategies can make your journey a lot smoother. Remember, it’s all about balance, efficient planning, and a lot of self-care along the way. So, as you embark on this adventure, stay motivated, stay focused, and stay committed to reaching your medical school dreams. With determination and a well-structured MCAT prep schedule, you’re well on your way to crushing the MCAT and taking that exciting step toward your future in medicine.

If you need help, don’t forget we’re here for you! Blueprint MCAT students see 15-point MCAT score increases, on average. Get started today by creating a free account!

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