Membership Revoked
Jun 26, 2013
So I was going to take the MCAT on September 23rd and maybe try applying to a few schools, but SDN convinced me otherwise (apparently it's a late app). In addition, I am not prepared for my MCAT. I did a lot of content review but barely any practice questions or tests. Nevertheless, I am having trouble applying the material. Like I know the physics formulas but have to think twice as to how to use them when it comes to solving problems. Hence, I think it will be wise to take the MCAT in January.

Since I am pretty much done w/content, would it be enough to study 3-4 hrs. per day until winter break and do mainly practice problems. Then, starting from winter break onwards, I can study more like 6-8 hrs. until test day to finish up.

I am taking classes and doing research, volunteering as well so I hope this is just enough (not too light or too overkill). What do you guys think?


Medical Student
5+ Year Member
Feb 27, 2013
Medical Student
Quality > Quantity

I did about 3 -4 hours a day and felt satisfied. Study to a point where you are truly understanding material. Putting in 8 hours of staring at pages and not learning anything is useless.

Don't study to a time frame!


5+ Year Member
Feb 2, 2014
Medical Student
Once you start taking the tests you will be able to determine your weaknesses. Hopefully better tests will be available when you study over winter break.


cat in a box
Gold Donor
5+ Year Member
SDN Ambassador
Jun 17, 2014
space chat
I did a lot of content review but barely any practice questions or tests.
That's where the problem lies. Focus a lot on the practice passages and full lengths to sharpen your analytical and reasoning skills to beat the MCAT.

Don't study to a time frame!
Once you start taking the tests you will be able to determine your weaknesses. Hopefully better tests will be available when you study over winter break.
Agreed with both. Do what you feel most comfortable and ignore the members who emphasize studying for hours long per day to master the material. It really is personalized and up to you.
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not an elf
5+ Year Member
Apr 6, 2014
Medical Student


2+ Year Member
May 5, 2015
This is 100% dependent on person.

Alot of these crazy 37+ scorers on this site before they even started studying could have taken an AAMC practice test and gotten a 32+. For those who are starting from a much lower point, the time you spend studying is going to be alot more. The MCAT is a reasoning test and people who get 37+ type scores have great reasoning and thinking skills and hence don't need much practice refining or improving them. If you aren't this type of person and you aren't a natural reader/logical thinker, then you are probably going to have to spend alot more time prepping for this test and your ceiling in terms of the score you can achieve will probably be lower. There are some people who study months for this test, use their time well, and still have problems. Others literally spend a week lightly studying and get 37+ scores which is why I'm so hesitant to say "X amount of time is enough". You really have to experience this for yourself.

To go off this, some people have strong reasoning skills that they can figure things out with little background info on a subject. Others are more limited in this regard; they really need lots of content and background knowledge in a related subject to be able to guide them and help them in making conclusions on a similar subject even if they aren't being directly tested on facts. So how much content review you really need is up to you. For me, I'm not the most natural or fluid thinker; it really wasn't until I really really mastered the content and learned above what was expected of me(ie really learning everything in those Berekley Review books) that I really saw improvements in my score. That extra knowledge I didn't really need still helped me enormously in guiding me and improving my reading comprehension speed and in how fluid I was in understanding things and making conclusions from what I was reading. But this is incredibly variable by person.

My specific advice for you to be evaluate where you are now. Do practice problems etc. Maybe even take an old AAMC practice test, I think your verbal scores and even to a large extent Bio score and to some extent physics score can still give you a very rough idea of where you stand even for this new test. If you are getting 10+ scores on the bio and verbal section on the old AAMC tests, you really aren't that far off if you've already finished your content review. 3-4 hours a day for a couple months will be plenty in your shoes. If you struggle on the old AAMC Bio and Verbal you might need more time. This isn't a perfect guide but unfortuantely with how few AAMC released questions there are for this new test it's the best kind of guide I can think of off the top of my head.
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2+ Year Member
Aug 5, 2014
Medical Student
More than enough. Many people study for 3ish months working 40 hrs a week. Most people I would assume, unless some fairy pays their tuition at the end of the summer.
As long as you have taken most the pre-reqs, you're more than ok. Again, quality>>>quantity. Don't spend 100 hrs reading every flipping word of a massive princeton book-do practice tests, look very carefully through the AAMC official content lists, know those topics well. But don't waste time doing all those indiviudal problem sets books have from comercial companies.
Jul 21, 2015
You study until you understand the material and you're scoring within your preferred range on practice tests. It's that simple. Has nothing to do with logging hours.
Sep 13, 2015
Ann Arbor, MI
Try setting a goal to what topics you are going to cover or do questions then see how much time you need to meet your goal. This was the most challenging to me at least. But then i made myself study until i completed my goal.


Not even close to my real name
Jul 15, 2012
firm believer in spending lots of time on the mcat, even if you aren't learning new information. the mcat is as much about what you know as how you think. brain-washing yourself into thinking like the MCAT is pretty easy if you make it your life. i went from a 30 to >40 by taking 10 hours a day for 3 weeks. much better approach, imo than spreading it all out.


I support cancer... research
5+ Year Member
Jun 25, 2014
Resident [Any Field]
Study as long as you need. Don't put a time-frame on how long you MUST study. Rather, focus on what you NEED to study and take the appropriate amount of time to do it correctly. For example, I didn't need to take 3 hours to study any biological system, organic chem, or gen chem because they were easy to me. However, I probably needed close to 5 hours to properly study for anything quantitatively-heavy physics.
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