Help with MCAT timeline for next cycle

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PremedHopeful123

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Hi all,

I am a rising third-year hoping to apply in the 2025 cycle. I'm looking for some feedback and general guidance on how to begin studying for and planning for the MCAT.

At this point, I have taken almost all pre-reqs. I'll be taking biochem, cell bio, and physics 2 this fall. Biochem and cell bio at my university have a lot of overlap, so I will withdraw from cell bio if the combination of those classes proves to be too much to handle. My first question is if I should even begin studying before completing those classes. Is it worth it? I have done very well in the pre-reqs that I have completed.

If it is worth it, should I begin studying right now? I'd love to be ready to take the test in January 2025 at the earliest. However, I'm currently doing research full time, and don't know how much time I'll be able to dedicate to studying during the fall semester with my schedule (along with classwork, volunteering, research, student government, etc.). I will note that my spring semester will be very light, and I'm confident that I'll be able to devote significant time to studying in the spring. Also, I already have the complete 22-23 Kaplan MCAT set.

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Most people study full time for 3-4 months max--any longer than that and you will start to burn out and forget things.

You could take a free diagnostic test now to see where you're at and how far you are from your goal score, just to get a general idea. However I wouldn’t recommend starting to study now because you already have a full time commitment. It sounds like spring is your best option.

If you’re itching to do *something* MCAT related now then you could do 1 CARS passage every day just to get comfortable with it. Google Jack Westin, there’s free daily questions there.
 
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Are you applying in the current cycle for admission in Fall 2025? If so, that is too late for any MD schools and some DO schools. There are a good amount of DO schools that will accept a Jan 2025 MCAT, but your application will not be reviewed until they receive a score.

If you are applying for admission in Fall 2026, that is perfectly acceptable and leaves enough time for you to restudy if you need to retake.
 
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I recently studied for the MCAT while working full time and scored a 52x. I studied for 8 months part time but started “unofficial” content review a couple months before that (I am a non trad so had a lot more to catch up on). My schedule was similar to yours, took courses in the fall and a lighter course load in the spring when my studying ramped up.

Personally for me:

1. I referred to relevant chapters in Kaplan during my courses. You might consider doing this for your fall classes. I thought it complemented the course material well because it gives you a simpler perspective and drills in the parts that are important to remember for the MCAT. It helped me do better in my classes and helped consolidate my content review.

2. Because my timeline was so extended, I definitely forgot stuff I studied earlier on. So I don’t know if I should’ve tried to do content review a year out. However, starting far out helped me get farther through those huge Anki decks. So starting Anki earlier helped.

3. In terms of picking your test date, I personally found it was useful to have a few months to really focus on taking practice exams/qbanks/and really understanding the test itself without having to learn and cram a bunch of new information. If I were you I’d look at test dates in March/Apr. This will also give you some leeway to work on your writing and submit your app in early June, if that’s what you’re planning.
 
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Are you applying in the current cycle for admission in Fall 2025? If so, that is too late for any MD schools and some DO schools. There are a good amount of DO schools that will accept a Jan 2025 MCAT, but your application will not be reviewed until they receive a score.

If you are applying for admission in Fall 2026, that is perfectly acceptable and leaves enough time for you to restudy if you need to retake.
No. I will be submitting (hopefully) my application in late May/early June of 2025, for admission in Fall 2026.
 
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I recently studied for the MCAT while working full time and scored a 52x. I studied for 8 months part time but started “unofficial” content review a couple months before that (I am a non trad so had a lot more to catch up on). My schedule was similar to yours, took courses in the fall and a lighter course load in the spring when my studying ramped up.

Personally for me:

1. I referred to relevant chapters in Kaplan during my courses. You might consider doing this for your fall classes. I thought it complemented the course material well because it gives you a simpler perspective and drills in the parts that are important to remember for the MCAT. It helped me do better in my classes and helped consolidate my content review.

2. Because my timeline was so extended, I definitely forgot stuff I studied earlier on. So I don’t know if I should’ve tried to do content review a year out. However, starting far out helped me get farther through those huge Anki decks. So starting Anki earlier helped.

3. In terms of picking your test date, I personally found it was useful to have a few months to really focus on taking practice exams/qbanks/and really understanding the test itself without having to learn and cram a bunch of new information. If I were you I’d look at test dates in March/Apr. This will also give you some leeway to work on your writing and submit your app in early June, if that’s what you’re planning.
Thanks for the response and helpful info. What Anki deck did you use, and did you review content before beginning Anki, or just jump straight into it? How easy was it to balance studying with the classes you took in the fall before you ramped up in the spring? I'll probably end up doing a diagnostic and some light review this summer, study as much as I can in the Fall (which might be a little difficult), and go into full MCAT-mode starting in December up until my test date.
 
Thanks for the response and helpful info. What Anki deck did you use, and did you review content before beginning Anki, or just jump straight into it? How easy was it to balance studying with the classes you took in the fall before you ramped up in the spring? I'll probably end up doing a diagnostic and some light review this summer, study as much as I can in the Fall (which might be a little difficult), and go into full MCAT-mode starting in December up until my test date.
I used JackSparrow for C/P and B/B. It’s organized around the Kaplan chapters so I would unsuspend that group of cards after I went through the corresponding Kaplan chapter. I only got to about 50% maturity for the C/P and B/B content.
I used Pankow for P/S. I didn’t really review content as much beforehand, I did refer to the 300pg doc but the Anki deck was way more impactful on my score for that section.

Most weeks it was manageable to study for both for me, but some weeks were definitely overwhelming (I didn’t touch Kaplan during finals week for example). It will be very dependent on your schedule and bandwidth. This is why the ideal studying was to tackle Kaplan chapters that corresponded with what I was learning in class, so I could hit two birds with one stone. I ended up catching up a lot during winter break, and finished content review by mid Jan.

One thing to note, burnout is definitely real, especially with the extended timeline I feel like. So find ways to keep yourself healthy and sane if you can :) best of luck!
 
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