One of MST’s newest resources is the “30 Days to MCAT Test Day Sample Schedule.” If you’re just starting your MCAT prep, you might wonder what that schedule is, and why it is built the way it is. We hope that this blog makes everything a little more clear.
This study schedule is not a full study schedule, which is why is doesn’t include any content review (which should make sense, because 30 days is never enough to study for the MCAT!). Our study schedule assumes that you have already been doing MCAT prep for one to two months, and provides an outline for a good way to spend your last 30 days. You have finished your content review, and now all you have left to do is practice. It also assumes that you have made flash cards or are using a pre-made deck from some source in order to rehearse and review your content.
Our study schedule primarily uses the materials found on the AAMC website. This is widely considered to be the most high-yield practice out there, since it is all written by the same people who write the MCAT. All of the online MCAT material can be purchased for $268 here.
While at first glance the study schedule might seem arbitrary, there is a reason it is structured the way that it is. In the first six days, you complete the “AAMC MCAT Official Prep Online Practice Questions” and all of the Question Packs. The former is simply a half-length MCAT exam - this will serve as a good introduction to the MCAT format and style. The Question Packs are early because these are generally more content heavy. The questions in the Question Packs will test how well you know the material of the MCAT more than your critical thinking ability.
Next are the Science Section Banks. These are generally much more difficult than the Question Packs and will really test your ability to apply what you know and put it all together. These questions will look much more like questions you’ll see on test day. After this, your last two and a half weeks will be spent in a cycle of completing an AAMC full-length exam, reviewing your mistakes, and completing sections in your weakest area. If you don’t have a set of practice tests from another test company, just try to find practice online and spend two to three hours doing practice.
Finally, after taking all of the AAMC FL exams, you need to decide if you’re happy with your scores. Since these scores are the only way to predict how you will do on your actual exam, if you think they’re too low, reschedule your exam. Typically, people score within three points of their practice exam average on their actual exam. By this point, you won’t be able to get a refund, but a wasted $315 (the cost of registering for the MCAT) is definitely worth it if the alternative is retaking the MCAT, in which case you would still have to spend $315 and you’ll have a low MCAT score on your application, which is seen pretty negatively by medical school admissions committees.
When using this schedule, we don’t expect you to follow it to the letter. Adapt it to fit your own needs. If you feel like you are very strong in physics, you might not need to complete the question packs. If you think you have more time one day, do more than just two sections of practice. If you think you’re very weak in CARS, then fit in a few passages of CARS every day you’re not taking a FL exam. This schedule is meant to be a guide, not strict instructions.
On every seventh day in our study schedule, we have a tutoring session/break day. If you do not have a private tutor, keep this day as a break day, but try to get some sort of review in. Maybe do a few CARS passages or look over your formulas. Even if it is only for one to two hours, it’s important to stay in the MCAT mindset so you are as prepared as possible on test day. The goal of all this practice is to make you think on test day, “This is no big deal, I have been doing this every day for the last month. It’s nothing scary, it’s just another day!”