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 

Key Skills for Every Pre-Med

As a premedical student, you have a lot on your plate. Between difficult classes, never ending tests, pressures to maintain great extracurriculars and do well on standardized tests, it can be overwhelming. But there are a few key skills that every premedical student should have which will help you get through these years with ease:

Adaptability and Social Skills
You will be working with many different types of people in medical school, in your residency, and in your career. It is very important to be able to adapt to changes, as different people will have different clinical styles that may or may not agree with your style. Especially in medical school, you need to be able to adapt to these different situations. You need to be able to take constructive criticism as a medical student, but it is also helpful to be able to interact with the people around you.

Time Management Skills and Efficiency
Because medical school and residency are a lot of work, develop the skill to prioritize the things that are important and those that can wait until later. In your study strategy, prioritize the things that are most important and the things that are most difficult for you. As a Resident, efficiency is very important because you need to be able to list out and complete all your tasks, and find a way to utilize the resources around you, including delegating tasks to others, to be done on time.

Your Personal Study Strategy
The last thing that I think is important to develop while you’re a premed is a study strategy that works well for you as a student. The same study strategy you used previously won’t work when you are presented with such a vast amount of information in medical school. But I think if you figure out what kind of learner you are, whether you are a visual, audio learner or you learn by doing or reading, and if you are the type of person who needs to know the details, this will guide the way you study, because there is a large volume of material to learn in medical school.