One common question that many aspiring med students want a definitive answer to is: how long should I study or prepare to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)?
The question seems simple enough, but the “right” answer is far from simple. The truth is: there is really no right answer. For me, the right amount of time was about 3 months. I studied during my summer break, which coincidentally was during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, so I did not have any distractions.
I know peers who have taken a relaxed spring semester during their junior year of college in order to take the MCAT sometime between March and May (which allots about 5-6 months of study time). On the other hand, some peers felt they could study enough during their Christmas break and feel prepared to take the MCAT before the start of the spring semester. The amount of study time really depends on the person!
A great tool to utilize is the ExamKrackers schedule, provided on their website, which takes about 2 months. Personally, I added an extra month in my planning because I wanted to do the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) practice questions after reading the book series.
So, how can you best prepare for the MCAT? You know yourself best! Think about your individual abilities, limitations, and study habits, and pick a comfortable duration of time. It’s okay to ask friends who have taken the MCAT already to see what they did, but don’t get discouraged if they were able to take the test with less dedicated study time.
Always remember: it’s okay to push back your test date if you do not feel prepared! Feeling confident and ready is important. When you finally do take the MCAT, you’ll want to know you’ve done it to the best of your ability.