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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, summing up to 240 hours of studying.

Average MCAT Scores

Do you know what is the average MCAT score? The average student scores approximately 502, 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. So, be sure to work on your MCAT practice exam and review each practice question.

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. “How much,” you ask? It depends…

Finding Your Ideal Study Timeline

There are many factors that influence a student’s ideal study timeline and time commitment. For example, ESL students tend to find the CARS section more difficult and need extra practice (although I’ve encountered plenty of native speakers struggling, too!). Nontraditional applicants or students that have been out of school for a long time usually allot additional time for content review. Students that have significant work or extracurricular commitments will need to factor those in when creating their MCAT study schedule and choosing their MCAT prep course. Finally, what kind of school are you going to? If your Medical College Admission Test, or MCAT, score is below the 10th percentile, 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 financial support from loved ones to utilize Blueprint Prep’s Live Online Course to study.

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.

Resources that helped me in my study plan included Blueprint’s free study plan.

I recommend experimenting with Blueprint’s free study plan tool to visualize what different plans would look like, the AAMC’s MSAR tool to research your target school’s exam score distributions, and reaching out to an advisor or the Blueprint team if you have any questions.

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