Early Bird or Night Owl? Finding Your Best Time to Study
- Feb 09, 2024
- MCAT Blog, MCAT Prep
- Reviewed By: Liz Flagge
They say the early bird catches the worm, but does the night owl catch higher MCAT scores? The MCAT is a crucial milestone for medical school applicants, and finding the best time to study can make all the difference. Today, we’ll explore whether embracing the morning hustle or working late into the night leads to better MCAT performance.
Let’s delve into the science of circadian rhythms and productivity to help you find your ideal study time.
Finding Your Best Time To Study for the MCAT
Understanding Circadian Rhythms
The human body operates on a 24-hour internal clock known as the circadian rhythm. This internal clock influences various physiological and behavioral processes, including sleep-wake cycles, hormone production, and body temperature.
Individual preferences for waking and sleeping align with one of two chronotypes:
- Early birds, who naturally wake up and are most alert in the morning; and
- Night owls, who thrive during the evening hours
Early Birds: The Morning Advantage
Proponents of the early bird philosophy argue that studying in the morning taps into the body’s natural circadian rhythm. Research suggests that cognitive function tends to peak during the late morning hours for early birds.
This period is characterized by enhanced alertness, improved memory retention, and increased focus, making it an ideal time for complex cognitive tasks such as MCAT preparation.
Additionally, early birds often report a sense of accomplishment and increased productivity when starting their day with focused study sessions. This can help keep you motivated to continue your MCAT prep.
Night Owls: The Power of the Night
On the flip side, night owls argue that their chronotype allows for undisturbed, concentrated study sessions during the late hours. Some studies suggest that night owls may experience increased creativity and problem-solving abilities during the evening, potentially giving them an edge in tackling complex MCAT questions.
Additionally, night owls may find a quieter environment during the late hours, which can foster deep concentration and focus. The absence of daytime disturbances may allow for extended study sessions without interruptions, providing an opportunity for in-depth comprehension of challenging MCAT topics.
Finding Your Unique Study Rhythm
While the debate between early birds and night owls persists, it is important to remember everyone is different.
Think about your own study habits. When do you have more productive study sessions? Chances are, it depends on what is going on around you. Do you have plans every night? Are you on a sports team with daily morning practices? These external factors impact how and when you study.
Not everyone fits neatly into the early bird or night owl categories. Many people fall somewhere in between. The key is to identify your own chronotype and align your study schedule with your natural rhythms and environment.
How To Find Your Best MCAT Study Time
Self-Assessment: Pay attention to your energy levels and cognitive function throughout the day. Are you most alert in the morning or does your mind come alive during the evening?
Experimentation: Conduct a trial period where you dedicate focused study time during different parts of the day. Assess your productivity, concentration, and overall performance during these sessions (new LLJ tab, anyone?).
Once you identify when you feel most engaged, stay consistent. Establish a routine that aligns with your natural circadian rhythm to maximize the effectiveness of your study sessions. This will help you now, and in the years ahead of you in medical school!
Your Study Time Is Part of the Equation for Success
The debate of early bird versus night owl in the context of MCAT preparation boils down to your own preferences and circadian rhythms. While early birds may capitalize on morning alertness and consistency, night owls can leverage the quietude of the late hours for focused study.
Both options are completely fine. Ultimately, the key lies in self-awareness and adapting your study schedule to align with your unique chronotype.
Luckily, at Blueprint MCAT, we offer a range of flexible MCAT prep options designed to accommodate your best study time. Our Self-Paced Course empowers you to prepare at your own pace, anytime and anywhere. If you’re looking for a live learning experience, our Live Courses provide diverse schedules, ensuring you’ll find one that suits you perfectly. Not sure which option will help you reach your goal score? Take our free MCAT Prep Style Quiz!
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