Breaking Down the MCAT: A 3 Month MCAT Study Schedule

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Written by SN2ed.

Downloadable MCAT Calendar iCAL and XML versions:
(Click the events for more details)

Everyone please keep the questions to this strategy AND READ ALL OF THE FIRST FOUR POSTS.

Do NOT start this schedule late. You will burnout. There have already been numerous posts & threads on people starting late, trying to rush through the material, and burning out quickly.
Check the Update log in the last post for any changes.

I noticed that some people are claiming they wrote this guide to scam people out of money. Let me make this clear, I have not and will not be selling anything related to this guide. If you see a poster trying to sell books saying they wrote this schedule, do NOT buy from them. They are attempting to take your money away on false pretenses. Additionally, this guide has only been and should only be posted on SDN. I have not posted this guide anywhere else. Furthermore, SDN is the sole MCAT/medical forum I visit and the only forum where I use the screen name SN2ed. I never imagined this thread would be popular enough to warrant this kind of attention. The contents of this thread (and any other on SDN) cannot be replicated and re-hosted on any other forum, blog, or website without prior consent of both the author and SDN.
Make sure you read ALL of the opening posts, including the FAQ, before posting questions.

To begin with, check out these two threads:

Why Diagnostics are Worthless:

MCAT and a Heavy School Workload Don't Mix: Stop rushing to take the MCAT:

Can I accomplish this schedule with a part-time job or school?

Very unlikely. I highly recommend you devote 3 months to the MCAT. There may be a few that could follow this schedule and work part-time, but chances are it would not end well. You are FAR more likely to burn out if you try to study for the MCAT using this schedule and go to school or take a part/full-time job.

Furthermore, I've yet to see a valid reason for students (ie. not non-trads) to not take the MCAT in the summer.

Will following this guide guarantee me a +30?

Sadly, there are no guarantees on the MCAT. I certainly hope it helps you, but I can't say whether or not you'll hit your target score.

Should I take the MCAT before finishing my pre-reqs?

There's no point in doing so. You have to take them anyway. Hence, you might as well go into the test with your pre-reqs completed. Yes, this includes the English pre-req.

Any tips for retakers?

Check out the thread I made on the subject:

Remember to check out the third and fourth post FAQ.

Anything else before I start?

CONFIDENCE. Through all of the troubles and hardships you'll face, approach everything with confidence. You must constantly attack this test. The MCAT is merely a stepping stone on your journey.

Also, this is just a guide I made up. It is my opinion on what a study schedule should resemble. I'm sure there will be people that disagree with parts of this schedule or the whole thing. This schedule can easily be adjusted for 4 months instead of 3. I don't suggest starting heavy studying 5 months+ from your test date. Keep it to 3-4 months. If you start too soon, it will be a waste of time and resources.

Remember to use the search function on these forums. Tons of questions have already been asked and answered.
Lastly, please give credit to me, SN2ed, if you post this elsewhere. I put a ton of work into it.


- Berkeley Review (BR) General Chemistry
- BR Organic Chemistry
- Examkrackers (EK) Biology for non-detailed approach OR The Princeton Review Hyperlearning (TPR) Biology/BR Biology for a detailed approach (In the schedule, I will use EK Bio because most prefer a non-detailed approach)
- BR Bio
- BR Physics
- EK 1001 series, excluding EK 1001 Bio (i.e. do NOT buy EK 1001 Bio)
- EK Verbal 101
- TPR Hyperlearning Verbal Workbook or Berkeley Review Verbal
- AAMC Full Length (FL) #3-5 and 7-11 (AAMC #6 is not available at the moment)

You're using EK Bio for content review and BR Bio for passages. If you need more detail during in your content review, refer to BR Bio.

You can pick up the BR books from their website:
Also, check out the For Sale section on here: All of the above, except for the AAMC FLs show up from time to time. I've regularly seen a complete BR set go for under $100 on there. Whenever you buy used, MAKE SURE THE PASSAGES ARE UNMARKED.

To buy the AAMC FLs:

Bare Minimum Set-up:

$245 for AAMC FLs (

$240 for BR Physics, O-chem, Gen Chem, Biology (

$26 for EK Verbal 101 (

$30 EK Bio (Amazon product)

Prices vary on TPR Hyperlearning Verbal Workbook, search the For Sale forum on here for copies. They regularly show up. You should be able to get one for under $50.

Total = $541 + TPR Hyperlearning Verbal Workbook

Set-up with EK 1001:

$18 EK Physics 1001 (

$20 EK O-Chem 1001 (

$19 EK Chem 1001 (

Total = $598 + TPR Hyperlearning Verbal Workbook

Possible Book Replacements:

If you're having a hard time finding the TPR Hyperlearning Verbal Workbook, BR is an okay replacement. Well, there's not much of a choice left. Again, I HIGHLY recommend you hunt down the TPRH Verbal Workbook.

TPRH is a great choice for content review in all subjects, however, you still need the BR books and EK 101 Verbal for their practice passages. TPRH does not have enough practice passages, though the Workbooks are still great resources.

A Little Bit more about TPRH books:

If you're looking for the Science or Verbal Workbooks, your best bet is through the For Sale forum on here:

You can also find the full TPRH set in the For Sale. People usually sell the whole set together.

If you want the content books, they're available on Amazon.

Yes, these books are the same as the TPRH content review books. The only difference is that these books, unlike the class content review books, contain some practice passages. I believe it's 3-4 passages per chapter. It's not enough to just stick with these books and some FLs, but it's nice to have a few passages thrown in.

About the EK 1001 series:

It is a good idea to get the complete EK 1001 series. I thought they really helped me nail down my understanding of the various topics. Through using the physics especially, I found that I didn't understand some things as well as I would like. Furthermore, for whatever reason, they helped me visualize the problem in my head and made the equations intuitive to use.
Too many people neglect their basic understanding which could be bolstered by EK 1001. They think they have a strong grasp, yet when those fundumentals are tested, one's weaknesses become more apparent. Plus, doing more timed practice problems is always a good thing.

The only negative for the non-bio and VR practice books is that they aren't in the right format (unless you think of them as tons of discretes).
However, it is significantly easier to spot your content weaknesses with EK 1001 because they aren't passages. You don't have to worry about if you messed up due to a failure to synthesize multiple ideas or the passage was worded strangely. When you mess up on EK 1001, you know it's due to a content weakness. Lastly, this problem would be alleviated by the BR books and EK content books containing practice passages. There are also the practice tests that you will be taking.
I suggest you get the above materials 1-2 months in advance! It takes awhile to get your BR books! You don't want to be missing your materials when you're about to start this schedule. Also, older content review books are usually okay, just don't go too far back (past 5 years old).
Lastly, sign up for your MCAT as soon as possible. Seats fill up months in advance.


- ALWAYS complete your practice problems under TIMED conditions
- For BR passages: 6-7 minutes per passage, work towards 6 minutes
- For the EK 30-minute exams….well 30 minutes
- EK 1001, except Bio series: 30 seconds to 1 minute per question
- EK Verbal 101/TPR Verbal: 6-7 minutes per passage, work towards 6 minutes
- AAMC FLs: Use their timing


- Do NOT retake old practice material
- Thoroughly review ALL of your practice problems. Review your problems the day AFTER you take them. Don't even look at the answers until then. If there's a break day, review your problems on the day after your break.
- Remember to round like crazy for any math problem
- Always use process of elimination with your answer choices
- Before you begin this schedule, count the number of verbal practice passages (101 from EK + however many in the TPR Hyperlearning Verbal Workbook). Divide the number of passages by 70 (total days - the number of break days AND FL days). That number is the number of verbal passages you should be taking per day. I'm hoping that number breaks down to at least 3 passages per day. Ideally, you should take 4-5 verbal passages per assigned day. You do NOT take verbal passages on break days OR FL days.
- If you don't want to get the EK 1001 series, spread out the second 1/3 of BR practice passages over 2 days. Again, I recommend you get the EK 1001 books that are listed.
- If your practice test score is not within your target range after 2-3 tests, you should consider delaying. If you delay, go over your weaknesses again and complete an in-depth analysis of what went wrong.
- If you have enough money, you could adjust the schedule to fit in more practice tests. I didn't include that many to keep the cost down.
- If your test is in the morning and you're not a morning person, start getting used to waking up early when you start taking practice tests.
- Try to practice under as realistic as possible conditions when you take your practice tests. In other words: wake up early enough to be able to drive to your center; eat a meal you would eat before a test; follow the proper timing; and if you're really into it, you could even drive around for about the same time it would take you to get to your test center.

General Guidelines for Reviewing:

- Go over EVERY question. Both the ones you got right and the ones you got wrong.
- Reviewing should take 2-3 times longer than taking the timed practice problems.
- If your tests are fluctuating, it is due to the different topics on the various tests. In other words, you have some glaring weaknesses that when targeted, nail you, badly. You have to find out what those weaknesses are because they are evident by your scores. Do NOT dismiss any wrong answer as a "stupid mistake." You made that error for a reason. Go over your tests again.
- You might want to consider making a log for all of your post test results where you work through the questions below. Doing so, you'll be able to easily notice trends.

Some things to go over when reviewing:

1. Why did you get the question wrong? Why did you get the question right?
2. What question and passage types get you?
3. How is your mindset when facing a particular passage?
4. Are you stressed for time?
5. Where are your mistakes happening the most? Are they front loaded? Are they at the end? All over?
6. What was your thought process for both the questions you got right and the ones you got wrong?
7. For verbal, what was the author's mindset and main idea?
8. Did you eliminate all of the answer choices you could from first glance?
ex. You know an answer should be a positive number so you cross out all of the negative number answer choices.
9. What content areas are you weak in?
10. Why are the wrong answers wrong and the right answer right?
11. How can you improve so you don't make the same mistake again?

Hat Trick:

Get a hat and write every single MCAT PS and BS topic onto a piece of paper. Then, when you're ready to practice PS, put all the PS topics into the hat. Draw two or three pieces of paper and connect the topics together. In addition to connecting them, come up with what a passage might look like and what kind of questions you might get. If you can't do this, go back and review each of the three sections. Rinse and repeat.

The hat trick days are important because they aid you in synthesizing the various topics together. On the MCAT, you utilize this skill for every passage because MCAT passages combine topics. Furthermore, you may also discover content weaknesses that you will need to go over.

PS Topic List:
BS Topic List:
Page to get topic lists if you don't want to directly download the pdf:

Here's a rough example using Distillation, Mendelian Genetics, and Lipids:

You are studying a Mendelian inherited recessive genetic defect of a lipid receptor. A defect in this receptor prevents the uptake lipids in the body and can cause several negative effects, such as, atherosclerosis due to fat build-up in arterial walls.

To test for the concentration of lipids in a patient's blood, you design a distillation experiment.

1. Given a couple where the male is Ll and the female is ll, what is the chance the child will have the defect?

2. What kind of solvent should you use to test the concentration of lipids?

3. What type patient would have the highest boiling point elevation?

4. If the trait exhibited incomplete dominance, which patient is likely to be Ll? Boiling point information here.

5. Which cell component requires lipids?

Verbal Help:

Check out Vihsadas's verbal guide and the other guides found in the MCAT Guide sticky
Vihsadas's Guide:
MCAT Guide Sticky:

Arithmetic Tricks: Tips Tricks

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wait so you only need 3 months to study like here are my questions:

So I have to take the BIG test next summer, but I started reviewing/studying but a lot of medical students have been telling me you only need 3 months before the test to prepare because you will only remember stuff then and that's when the practice tests will come in handy...

So what's the basic study time frame and how do people study? I know my questions are lame and generic but I'm wondering what most people do to be successful?
wait so you only need 3 months to study like here are my questions:

So I have to take the BIG test next summer, but I started reviewing/studying but a lot of medical students have been telling me you only need 3 months before the test to prepare because you will only remember stuff then and that's when the practice tests will come in handy...

So what's the basic study time frame and how do people study? I know my questions are lame and generic but I'm wondering what most people do to be successful?
Check out the sticky topic on how people studied to get a 30+.
Great topic SN2ed. I'm about to embark on the arduous journey of studying for this beast. I do have all the EK, is it possible to sub that for BK sciences? Or are EK series they not really that adequate for sciences?
Great topic SN2ed. I'm about to embark on the arduous journey of studying for this beast. I do have all the EK, is it possible to sub that for BK sciences? Or are EK series they not really that adequate for sciences?
EK for the physical sciences is great if you have a good foundation in the stuff already (ie. did well in class, understood the concepts, etc.). If you're a bit shaky on the material though, the Berkeley Review books are great. So it all depends on how comfortable you are with the material.
Great topic SN2ed. I'm about to embark on the arduous journey of studying for this beast. I do have all the EK, is it possible to sub that for BK sciences? Or are EK series they not really that adequate for sciences?

^^Would like to know the same thing

I wouldn't suggest you try to sub EK for BR. There are two reasons. First, the content review in BR is much better. Secondly, and most importantly, BR offers tons of practice passages. I believe MCAT preparation hinges on taking as many timed practice passages as possible. Hence, when I made up my schedule, I put in tons of timed practice passages. Without BR, you will basically go 2-3 months (depending on whether you're using the 3-4 months schedule) without taking many science practice passages which is a bad idea. The amount offered in EK's content review books isn't enough.
But for Bio, EK is sufficient in your opinion? I did the Kaplan for all four sciences and verbal, really didn't like it too much. Now I have the EK for Bio, so far no complains.
But for Bio, EK is sufficient in your opinion? I did the Kaplan for all four sciences and verbal, really didn't like it too much. Now I have the EK for Bio, so far no complains.

With EK Bio 1001 it's sufficient for those that prefer a non-detailed Bio approach (which most prefer). EK Bio 1001 contains both passages and discretes. EK Physics 1001, Gen-Chem 1001, and O-chem 1001 do NOT offer passages.
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Hi SN2ed,

Thanks for the awesome schedule. I was wondering how I should approach the BR passages. Since each day entails doing the chapter and the passages, how will I go through the passages if I don't have the equations in my mind? I know it's not important to memorize all of them, but for example, uniformly accelerated motion for chapter 1 physics, etc...the same question applies to all the subjects with equations. I really don't know how to approach the passages without knowing at least the important equations first.

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Hey SN2ed, one more question...

For the EK 1001 problems, specifically the physical sciences/orgo, is it absolutely necessary to do the problems timed? If I am not understanding how to do them right away can I take my time and figure it out, or if I can't get it at all go to the solutions guide? Normally I would take my time with these and if i don't get one try to follow their explanation. I get the importance of timing but i'm just worried i won't be able to understand a good chunk of them right away since they are for practice.

hey SN2ed, nice guide much appreciated.

I have a question though, in your opinion how would you rate the TPR hyperlearning science workbook? I don't have the BR books, but the TPR science workbook has passage based questions.
How would you suggest incorporating other FLs? As of tomorrow I have 27 days til my MCAT and I've just taken AAMC3. I have the TBR paper FLs and the old Kaplan paper FLs - are any of these particularly good to take? I don't want to take drastically different exams if I can avoid it, so I don't want to waste my time taking easy or ridiculously hard FLs.
What's the problem capn? It sounds like you're pretty much right on pace to finish/review all the AAMC FL's in the appropriate amount of time. Trying to squeeze in one or two more? :p
I'm perfectly on pace, which is good, but I was wondering if I should try to squeeze in a few more FLs if they'd be helpful. If there isn't time, I might just use the individual sections on practice question days.
Personally, I wouldn't deviate from the AAMC's, but I've never taken the MCAT before so what would I know :p I'll wait for a more educated answer too.
capn jazz: I think it would be best to just stick to the schedule. If you had a little bit more time, I might have suggested you take a few paper exams to build your FL endurance. Remember, you should be doing plenty of practice passages on off-days from BR.


About BR: You should try to gain a grasp of the equations during your first reading. Try your best to remember them as you take the passages. If you need to spend some time re-reading the chapter to learn the equations, do so. Also, you should have seen all or most of the equations before in your pre-med classes. If you haven't completed your pre-med classes, you should wait to take the MCAT.

Also, the reason why I segmented my passages the way I did is to help reinforce one's retention of the necessary equations. I think the ideal way to learn the equations is through drill and kill until they become second nature. Hence, the day you read the chapter and are first exposed, you immediately take some passages utilizing the equations from the chapter. Then you retake problems from the same topics multiple times at different points in the study schedule.

About the EK 1001: What you might want to try is giving yourself a little more time and scaling back as you go on. I'm a firm believer that all practice problems should be taken under timed conditions. I think it helps you get used to the pressure. It may even be beneficial in the long run if you stick to the strict time limits. That way, on a hard passage, you might be able to be more relaxed since you've dealt with a similar kind of pressure. Furthermore, missing problems due to concepts can help some people recall the concept better. It's the old, because you messed up, you remember it better.

Also, remember that you will have all the time you need to review your problems afterward.

One last thing, going off of your two posts, it appears that timing may be an issue for you. Be careful of that.

papercookies: It's a good book. The only problem with it is that I don't think it offers as many practice problems as the BR books. Since I place a high value on completing as many practice problems as possible, I don't recommend you switch out BR for the TPR Hyperlearning workbook. Again, good book, but I don't think is has enough problems. Just to double check, roughly how many passages does it contain?
Hey, i am trying to plan ahead for my mcat study schedule next summer. my school ends around may 22 and i want to take the mcat on august 25th. so i have around 3 month to study. is it helpful to take a prep course by kaplan or princeton review? and in case i do take the prep class, how can i fit the prep class into the 3 month study schedule?

Thanks in advance :)
Haha thanks. Well, it contains 62 passages for physics, 93 for chemistry, 87 for bio, and 44 for orgo. I also have the EK1001 series, so hopefully it be okay. Just gotta actually get through them all :)
Trisphorin: Whether or not a prep course is helpful is more of a personal thing. Some people love them for the structure, camaraderie, and practice problems. Others think they're a waste of time. Another factor to beware of is that the quality of teachers differs greatly from area to area. Ask students in your area what they thought about either company. Also, ask to sit in on a class. There's no real trick to fitting in a prep class into my 3 month schedule. You just do both at once. Though you should choose which schedule you want to follow (the prep company's or this one).

papercookies: Oh that's pretty good then. I didn't know there were that many passages.
My problem with the TPR workbook is that it's enormous. I never want to/am able to carry it with me to the library if I want to bring other books also. So it's my do-at-home practice book.
That is true, you can only bring so many things to the library for one day haha. The other tpr books are pretty much ridiculously big as well.
Hey guys and gals, so if I take the MCAT next year mid-June, and get done with finals mid-May, I will only have around 1 Month to study for it...

SN2ed says 3 months. But I have to take it in june to apply EDP to KU SOM.

how many hours a day are you calculating every day for 3 months? It makes sense to spend 3 months in prep, but I just won't be able to have that kind of time....I was planning on cranking down my hours at school spring 2010 to give myself time during the semester.

let me know what you think

You CANNOT spend 1 month studying for the MCAT. I have the same amount of post-finals time as you (1 month) but I spent three months leading up to finals doing content review/practice questions. It's doable, but take as light of a courseload as possible. If you can't study during the school year, POSTPONE and apply a year later.
that's the number one thing i'm seeing, is 3 months prep is a must for a good score. i can study during school and take my hours down to about 13/14 hours with about 7-10 hours per week in lab, with a few other obligations. i still have a year so ill get it together somehow
Sorry this is quite a stupid question, but I can't figure out the hat trick: how specific are our topics supposed to be when we write them onto pieces of paper? For example, in PS, according to the pdf, is it better to just write "electron structure", or go in more depth and write each of the numbered topics on different pieces of paper (ie, orbital structure, ground state, etc)?

It's really up to you and how you ultimately want to utilize the Hat Trick. A good starting point would be at least writing down the bolded topics. Then, when you're doing the Hat Trick, you should think about each topic more in-depth. Remember, you're trying to think up an MCAT style passage. In other words, the passage won't be simple; it will involve some of the complexities of each topic.

I am a non-trad working a full-time, 40-hour-a-week job and despite the fact that you had mentioned that your study schedule is not designed for non-trad who are working, I am going to try and spread your schedule out and make it work for me. I am taking the MCAT in January 2010.

I have cut off ties from friends, Facebook, and other distracting devices. Do you foresee any problems in trying to follow your schedule if I have six months of time?
Wow, this is...above and beyond. Thank you so much SN2ed! You obviously spent a ton of time, and it shows. I found your advice extremely helpful.

I didn't know what the "hat trick" was...but I guess I do my own variation: I go to, and use their random number generator to spit out 3 numbers. I usually pick a range of pages-so, for ek 1001, ill have it generate 3 numbers for pages 1-160. Then, depending on my mood, I do either all the questions on that pg, but I try to do the whole section (say, I pick a pg in the middle of "density" in fluids, I try to do the whole density section).

I think it's I get caught up in craft prjects and procrastinate, so cutting up the aamc topics would just be bad lol.
Kinesio: You'll most likely have problems remembering the material you studied first. You will need to adjust this schedule to work for your specific job.

pandoraaj009: The Hat Trick is explained in the first post.
Any critique appreciated. Embarking on a ~45 day study binge (strict) for Aug. 25th MCAT.


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pandoraaj009: The Hat Trick is explained in the first post.

Definitely MY BAD. I skimmed it too quick and assumed it was like another member's hat trick where they'd randomly pick topics from a hat to do ek 1001 problems. Thx for the correction...

And anyways, it looks really helpful.
Here's a Hat Trick excel spreadsheet... it's not perfect but it's good if you don't want to write out all the topics. Let me know if it works for you guys!

Good luck all!


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Here's a Hat Trick excel spreadsheet. Let me know if it works for you guys! Also, I have a Mac, so the Microsoft Office might act weird on your computer.

Also, please let me know if the F9 trick works to refresh. I have a Mac and it doesn't work for me, but if I just reload the page then it does work.

Good luck all!

Good work dude.

I want to be helpful like all of you have been!

After I finish studying and get a pretty good score I hope to do as much good as you guys have! Thanks.
AAMC's so far

3: 33
4: 33
5: 36

You were very right saying the first few review days were intense.

A recommendation I'd make to people planning to follow this schedule is to allot say, 95-100 days instead of 90. Use the extra days as spare days for yourself to either take a much needed break or catch up when you get behind.
AAMC's so far

3: 33
4: 33
5: 36

You were very right saying the first few review days were intense.

A recommendation I'd make to people planning to follow this schedule is to allot say, 95-100 days instead of 90. Use the extra days as spare days for yourself to either take a much needed break or catch up when you get behind.

Great looking AAMC scores. Keep up the good work. I wasn't sure if 2 chapters for those review days were too much or not. Based on your input, I adjusted the schedule. See if that's better. I made it so you only cover 1 chapter after each test.
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That looks great. I think one a day would be significantly more manageable. However, I stand by my recommendation that, when following this or any other schedule, you should start a couple days before you need to so you have some emergency miscellaneous use days.

I definitely recommend the schedule to others though, having followed it from day 1.

1) The workload is, overall, very manageable. I still volunteer ~20 hours a week, spend plenty of time with the gf, exercise, etc. I had originally planned on trying to work full time during the schedule, but in hindsight I would agree with what SN2ed said will say that that would have been a very bad idea.

2) I thought doing the second set of passages just a week after would be too soon to solidify memory, but the setup of going over material, then again a week later, then again about a month and a half later works quite well. It really sticks after the last review.

3) (Note, these statements don't apply to EK 1001 Biology). I didn't like the EK 1001 series that much. Organic is my best subject, and working through the Organic 1001 book, I found quite a few mistakes. I'm not sure if I wasn't able to find the same quantity of mistakes in the other books because they weren't present or because I wasn't able to recognize them. It was alright for making sure you know how to work problems though, particularly for physics. For making sure you know concepts, it's pretty meh.

4) The combination of books is perfect. TBR is just amazing, and EK Bio is quite good too.

5) Despite having TPR verbal workbook and EK verbal workbook, I slacked and only made it through about half the EK book. I feel I'm decent in it though, and figured the extra practice through the AAMC's would be enough (so far 10/10/11).

6) Have yet to do the hat trick because I started to feel myself burning out and preferentially took that out over reviewing the practice tests or passages. Gonna give it a go once I get into the single-chapter days, and I'll let you know then.

7) Anything else to input on?
That's not a bad idea on the buffer days. I think I'll add that as well.

I'm glad the schedule was manageable for you. Still, as you mention, this schedule would NOT be manageable with a full time job.

I think I'll stick with the EK 1001 series since I have seen it help out people that aren't solid with the basics. Furthermore, too many people think they have a strong grasp on the basics, when they don't. Though, if you're poor, that would be the first thing I'd cut (not including EK 1001 Bio or EK 101 Verbal).

Keep me updated on how this schedule works for you.
I wonder if there is any benefit in re-doing verbal passages as it relates to this prep plan?

If you have done say 150, then you cycle back would it be beneficial?

Also in terms of using practice material more than once, would it be better to:

1. Going over AAMC a 2nd time
2. Go over new materials that may be second-rate for the first time

For example, lets say I want to take 10 practice exams. Do I redo a few of the AAMCs or go buy a Kaplan or EK FL?
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You should never retake practice problems for the same reasons you should never retake FLs (my detailed explanation is in the fourth post). You must get new practice material and new practice tests. BR and GS offer the best easily available practice tests.
This is a great thread.

I was also thinking on a schedule variation: let's say you have more than a year before you have to take the MCAT, why not do all the studying starting a year before the test? It doesn't have to be intense - perhaps an hour per day. Then, once you're 1-3 months away from the test, you really start going intensely over the material, but this time it will just be review and reconsolidation. The AAMC tests should be saved until the intense preparation, but other FLs can be used during the "no pressure" study. There is also Audio Osmosis + flash card/supermemo.

A note: if you don't have great verbal skills, you should start working on the verbal as soon as possible, perhaps even years before your MCAT test. It just takes a while to build those skills and learn all the vocab words. Try reading The New Yorker and books like Grammar Smart and Word Smart. In general, any book your read is going to increase your VR ability, but this is especially true about great works of art such as philosophical works, novels like Atlas Shrugged, psychology books, etc. This will make the VR section second nature and you won't necessarily have as much to learn from MCAT verbal preps.
You'll forget everything. Literally everything. I read through Gen Chem and Physics and OChem the summer before I started studying in April, and reading it in April I had NO recollection of anything. Don't waste your time. The yield is miniscule.
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