By: Sarju Panchal
Many pre-meds are extremely busy during the “daily grind” of school or work, and so having a break to concentrate on the MCAT could be just what you need. Studying using a 1-3 week break can be a great way to become more relaxed and better prepared for the MCAT. I personally am a crammer, and so I actually took a month off during the summer between an internship and school, and did almost all of my MCAT studying in that month. While that’s not always an option for every student, here are some tips for making the most out of a week(s) long stretch of free time.
Try to plan a few weeks to months in advance what part of the break you will use for studying, and what part you will use to see family and friends. Ideally, with advance planning you can make time for both. Try to stick with your study schedule as much as possible, as it’s easy to waste a break, but also plan time off for relaxing.
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Have a clear idea of what you want to get done during the break. If you have an overall MCAT study plan, make sure to write in your break time and plan to get a little more done then to lighten your load for the rest of your study time. If you have a break a few months out from the MCAT, maybe try to use the free time to go through several chapters of content review in a shorter time. For a break a month or less out from the MCAT, maybe you would want to commit to being able to do full length practice tests and re-reviewing challenging material.
During school or work, most people only have time to study in the evenings. However, the MCAT starts at 8am, so a break is great time to try studying and doing practice passages in the morning. Also, while it is tempting to sleep in during a break, starting off early is both good practice for the 8am start time and maximizes your time. If want to really maximize your time, consider picking a few days a week and studying 5-8 hours a day in the daytime, as if it is a full time job. You’ll still have your evenings free, which is more than you have during work and school.
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During a break, if you’re studying for several hours a day during the daytime consider studying somewhere other than your home, such as a public library. It’s free, and removed from some of the distractions at home. Many public libraries also have reservable private study rooms. Also, a public library computer lab is pretty similar to the kind of computer testing center you’ll take the MCAT in.
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