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How many hours per day is optimal to study over 3 month period


  • Total voters
    27
  • Poll closed .

AlphaStudent

2+ Year Member
Jul 23, 2016
80
55
Status
Pre-Medical
Have any of yall studied hard for MCAT but did not receive a good score or the score you were aiming for? What did you think went wrong or what would you do differently if you could study for it again? Im taking mine in a few months and im about to start studying for it, and I want to try to get my best score on the first try.
 

ArteryStudyPainting

Artery: The study of painting
2+ Year Member
May 25, 2016
368
417
Nay
Status
Medical Student
What helped is to know what must be wrong. If you successfully knock off wrong answers, the right answers look better and better.

The key is not to scratch out the right answers first.

Sent from my [device_name] using SDN mobile
 
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Zenabi90

2+ Year Member
Jul 14, 2017
591
444
Status
Medical Student
This is the wrong question my friend. It is not a question of hours.

Were it only a question of hours, many takers would be scoring in the 99th percentile. Well, that's technically wrong, but the spirit of the statement is that hours never ever equal resulting score. I can point you to posts by students who have slaved for 10-12 hours a day for 3 or 4 months and yet failed to break 500. I can also point you to posts by others who studied for the MCAT while also attending classes, limited to 10-12 hours of real MCAT studying per week for 3-4 months and easily scored >510.

The MCAT2015 is far less focused on nitty-gritty detail recall, however it is still important if you are aiming to score in the 90th percentile (512+) and I believe that for most individuals, it is still needed to have a deep, SN2ed-type content review combining practice passages and discretes using in-depth materials like TBR to attain a score like that.

However, if you will be satisfied by, say, a 505-510, I would still utilize a SN2ed but use less in-depth materials like EK/Kaplan/TPR without use of discretes.

In general, here are my keys for success:
--Go back to the source: Read the SN2ed material. Despite designed for pre-2015 MCAT, much of the advice and knowledge still applies. Not just in terms of material selection and schedule creation, but also the importance of subject rotation, error logs and a deep review process of practice items.
--Check on modern versions: KoalaT and MCATjelly are great places to start. Making your own schedule is invaluable, so you can easily adjust if something happens.
--Search The Golden Rule: Simply put, "wrong is wrong, least wrong is correct." While this was written by KoalaT to boost CARS scores, it can be applicable to other subjects as well. It is along the lines of what cjohns89 wrote above, but KoalaT goes into more detail
--AAMC FLs are imperative. Use the Sample Exam at the beginning, to get a feel for what the MCAT should be like. Use FL 3 halfway through your review, FL 1 and 2 in the last two weeks on whatever your test day is (Fri, Sat, etc).
--Non-official FLs: Stay far away from TPR/Kaplan unless you are using them merely as practice passages. They are usually discouraging because they give a deflated score. The consensus on best third-party FLs is that NextStep and Altius are the best are imitating the actual MCAT both in questions and difficulty.
--Study without distraction: deactivate all social media until your actual MCAT. lock your phone and internet during study hours
--Best mind via best body: eat right, sleep right, exercise right, cut back on caffeine and alcohol. Take care of your body and it will take care of your mind.

I've written other lengthy posts, if you would like to search for them. The Strategies sticky is highly important of course, and the 509+ habits thread too.

Best of luck!
 

JustinM88

2+ Year Member
Nov 5, 2016
148
29
Status
Pre-Medical
This is the wrong question my friend. It is not a question of hours.

Were it only a question of hours, many takers would be scoring in the 99th percentile. Well, that's technically wrong, but the spirit of the statement is that hours never ever equal resulting score. I can point you to posts by students who have slaved for 10-12 hours a day for 3 or 4 months and yet failed to break 500. I can also point you to posts by others who studied for the MCAT while also attending classes, limited to 10-12 hours of real MCAT studying per week for 3-4 months and easily scored >510.

The MCAT2015 is far less focused on nitty-gritty detail recall, however it is still important if you are aiming to score in the 90th percentile (512+) and I believe that for most individuals, it is still needed to have a deep, SN2ed-type content review combining practice passages and discretes using in-depth materials like TBR to attain a score like that.

However, if you will be satisfied by, say, a 505-510, I would still utilize a SN2ed but use less in-depth materials like EK/Kaplan/TPR without use of discretes.

In general, here are my keys for success:
--Go back to the source: Read the SN2ed material. Despite designed for pre-2015 MCAT, much of the advice and knowledge still applies. Not just in terms of material selection and schedule creation, but also the importance of subject rotation, error logs and a deep review process of practice items.
--Check on modern versions: KoalaT and MCATjelly are great places to start. Making your own schedule is invaluable, so you can easily adjust if something happens.
--Search The Golden Rule: Simply put, "wrong is wrong, least wrong is correct." While this was written by KoalaT to boost CARS scores, it can be applicable to other subjects as well. It is along the lines of what cjohns89 wrote above, but KoalaT goes into more detail
--AAMC FLs are imperative. Use the Sample Exam at the beginning, to get a feel for what the MCAT should be like. Use FL 3 halfway through your review, FL 1 and 2 in the last two weeks on whatever your test day is (Fri, Sat, etc).
--Non-official FLs: Stay far away from TPR/Kaplan unless you are using them merely as practice passages. They are usually discouraging because they give a deflated score. The consensus on best third-party FLs is that NextStep and Altius are the best are imitating the actual MCAT both in questions and difficulty.
--Study without distraction: deactivate all social media until your actual MCAT. lock your phone and internet during study hours
--Best mind via best body: eat right, sleep right, exercise right, cut back on caffeine and alcohol. Take care of your body and it will take care of your mind.

I've written other lengthy posts, if you would like to search for them. The Strategies sticky is highly important of course, and the 509+ habits thread too.

Best of luck!
Awesome stuff. So for this Error Log thing, should we be saving the actual questions we missed (plus notes on how we should think about it) and then do the questions over again later on, or should we just save notes on the idea behind the missed question and review those notes over time?
 

Zenabi90

2+ Year Member
Jul 14, 2017
591
444
Status
Medical Student
Awesome stuff. So for this Error Log thing, should we be saving the actual questions we missed (plus notes on how we should think about it) and then do the questions over again later on, or should we just save notes on the idea behind the missed question and review those notes over time?
I personally lean towards the latter.

My personal process with practice questions:
-After taking the exam, I review each question thoroughly, both the ones you got right and got wrong
-Go over each answer chance, and see how you could modify each answer or the question to make each answer choice correct or incorrect

-The information I like to keep in my review log.

-Question info: book, page, Q#, etc (so you can refer back if needed)
-Concept tested
-Grade difficulty 1 (very easy) to 5 (very hard)
-Did you get it right or wrong?
-If you got it right: because you knew the concept? worked out the concept? educated guess? blind guess?
-If you got it wrong: because you didn't know the concept? thought you did but didn't really? calculated wrong? educated guess? blind guess? ran out of time (if doing timed review)?

Over the course of your error logs, you will soon see patterns in your correct answers and incorrect answers, and you should be able to figure out how to identify and strengthen your weaknesses in a way that would be most efficient for you. Sometimes what appears as a broad content weakness is actually an approach weakness in disguise.
 
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Zenabi90

2+ Year Member
Jul 14, 2017
591
444
Status
Medical Student
But in response to the original question: as many hours as you can at maximal efficiency.

Personally, I took roughly 5 weeks off and entered into a very strict, almost hermit-like study schedule.

I deactivated and changed all the passwords to my social media. I let everyone important to me know that I was going to be studying hard and would be generally unavailable. I started doing healthy meal prep and scheduled my days down to the half hour.

Each day I got up at 6, and got ready for the day. By 7:30 I was ready to start my studying. Since I was using books, I disconnected the internet and put my phone in a drawer. I began precisely at 8, the estimated start time of the MCAT exam. I studied in timing with the exam, including breaks between blocks and for lunch. I also scheduled regular daily exercise of light to moderate intensity and was always in bed by 9:30-10. Sundays were my break days to prevent burnout.

Each day, I spent roughly 9 hours studying. 6 days a week for 5 weeks, meant roughly 270-300 of studying, which netted me an improvement from 55th percentile to 95th percentile despite undergrad concluding 5 years ago. That's not a lot of hours compared to many takers, but I truly believe that because I was dialed in and 100% focused, it was plenty.

So I would say, don't focus on pure hours, but how you spend them.
 
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