How to Make the Most of Studying for the MCAT During a 1-3 Week Break from Work or School

girl studying in library

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.

Plan your break

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.

Read More: MCAT Retake – is it worth it?

Plan your studying 

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.

Study during the morning and make the most of the day

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.

Read More: 12 MCAT Strategies and Techniques That Work

Study outside your home

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.

Related Posts from ProspectiveDoctor:

  1. MCAT Study Plan Tips 
  2. 12 MCAT Strategies and Techniques That Work 

MCAT Scheduling: Factors to Consider Before Signing up for Your Test Date

We all know that the MCAT is one of the most important factors in your entire medical school application. Doing well on this test is of paramount importance to making a competitive application. Maximizing your test score is going to require a lot of studying, but also planning. With your heavy pre-med course load or hectic work schedule, it may seem as if there is never an ideal time to take the MCAT. In order to schedule your MCAT at the best possible time, check out these tips to ensure that you have adequate time and peace of mind to study:

1)      Plan out courses prior to scheduling your test date: If you are taking the MCAT while school is still in session, make sure you spend some time scheduling your courses prior to reserving your MCAT date. This will help to avoid stressful conflicts with finals or big deadlines.

2)      Check in with family and friends: If you anticipate a big life event that would be important for you to attend (wedding, religious function or season, etc.) make sure you plan for this in advance. There are ways to arrange your study schedule around these important events, but conflicts around Test Day could leave you disappointed and distracted when you are trying to focus for the exam.

3)      Free up weekends: One of the biggest score-boosting activities you can do to prepare for the MCAT is to take and then review MCAT practice tests. This can often consume the majority of a day, and the best time to do this is on an undisturbed weekend. Taking several practice tests is recommended, so be kind to yourself and do not over commit your weekends for the 4-6 weeks leading up to Test Day.

4)     Anticipate AMCAS timelines: Scores typically take 4-5 weeks to result after Test Day. For medical school applications, you can access the AMCAS application as early as the first few weeks in May to be ready to submit as early as the first few weeks in June. If your schedule is otherwise permitting, consider taking a test that allows you to have your score back by the end of May or early June. That way, you can hit “submit” and get a jump start on the application process right as it begins. Many schools have a rolling acceptance, and the earlier your application is complete, the increased chance of acceptance you may have at certain programs.