As with everything in the premed world, you need to create a plan for the MCAT. The MCAT requires four to eight months of dedicated studying in addition to the numerous course requirements. Since MCAT scores are required for primary applications, you will need to plan your MCAT exam date prior to (or within 30 days after) your primary application submission.
To prepare for the MCAT, complete the related courses: general chemistry I & II, organic chemistry I & II, biochemistry I, physics, statistics, biology, psychology, and sociology. I recommend taking cell biology. If you have extra time, human anatomy and physiology can be helpful to understand certain passages. Although it is not required, anatomy and physiology will familiarize you with many of the concepts found in MCAT passages.
In addition to successfully completing the aforementioned courses, you will need to study for at least four dedicated months. Schedule time to study 500 hours to prepare for the MCAT. If you have a very light class and work schedule the semester before taking the MCAT, you can study 30 hours per week for 4 months. If you plan to take difficult courses and/or work more than 15 hours per week study for 15 hours per week for 8 months. If you choose a long-term plan, allow closer to 30 hours per week of study during the last three weeks.
Look at your course schedule and choose a month to take the exam. Be realistic with the time it will take to study for the exam. Sometimes premed students underestimate the time required to prepare for the exam. Do not make this mistake! You are competing against very strong students who are willing to put in the time. A poor MCAT score is the fastest way to get your application thrown out. A good MCAT score won’t guarantee admission, but it will keep you in the running.
Primary applications open in May for TMDSAS and beginning of June for AMCAS. A competitive applicant will submit their application as soon as possible. Knowing that completing the applications will take a significant amount of time, plan to take the MCAT at least a month before primary applications open so it doesn’t distract from your MCAT studying.
Good luck and let us know if you have any questions!