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How Long Do I Need to Prep for the MCAT (for Real)?

How Long Do I Need to Study for the MCAT?

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) states that the average MCAT student studies for 20 hours per week for three months, totaling up to 240 hours of studying. It’s recommended that students study 250-300 hours to prepare for the MCAT.  However, what does that look like for most MCAT students?

Finding Your Ideal Study Timeline


There are many factors that influence a student’s ideal study timeline and time commitment.

For example, many students tend to find the CARS section more difficult and need extra practice. Nontraditional applicants or students that have been out of school for a long time usually allot additional time for content review to understand what’s on the MCAT. Students that have significant work or extracurricular commitments need to factor those in when creating their MCAT study schedule and choosing their MCAT prep course.

Finally, think about the kind of school you are planning to attend. If your [Medical College Admission Test] MCAT score is extremely below median percentiles, your odds of admission are greatly reduced.

I’ll use my story as an example. I was a nontraditional student working as an EMT. I knew I would go crazy studying full-time, so I studied 10-20 hours a week for three months while working, then 40-50 hours a week for the last three months, culminating in a 520 on the MCAT. This means I studied for at least 600 hours, probably closer to 700.

My experience is not yours; I was lucky enough to have support from loved ones to utilize Blueprint Prep’s Live Online Course to study.

Average MCAT Scores

Do you know what is the average MCAT score? The average student scores approximately 501, while the average medical school applicant has a 505, and the average matriculant—defined as somebody who gets into at least one medical school—is 510. 

Section Average
Chemistry/Physics 125.2 126.2 127.6
CARS 124.8 125.7 126.9
Biochemistry/Biology 125.5 126.4 127.9
Psychology/Sociology 126.0 126.5 128.0
Total 501.5 504.8 510.4

(, 1, 2)

The wide discrepancy between average test takers and matriculants suggests that we should aim to exceed the average study time by a considerable margin. Practice undeniably makes progress. So, don’t skip taking any full-length MCAT practice exam and reviewing each practice question.

So How Long Do YOU Need?

I hear some future MCAT superstars pleading “Just give us a number!” If pressed, I recommend studying for at least 300 hours for the MCAT. This averages to 3.33 hours per day for three months (90 days). I also recommend taking at least two months to prep for the MCAT. Any less usually means cramming too much information to retain. I used Blueprint’s free study plan to help me keep track of it all.

As always, Blueprint MCAT is here to help! Whether you prefer a Live MCAT Prep Course led by Blueprint instructors or you’d rather pave your path with Blueprint’s Self-Paced Course, we have what it takes to meet your MCAT score goals while having fun along the journey.

MCAT is a registered trademark of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), which is not affiliated with Blueprint.