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Studying 1-year hardcore - overkill?

Discussion in 'MCAT Discussions' started by xquizit, Mar 14, 2010.

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  1. xquizit


    Mar 14, 2010
    I was planning on studying the whole summer and taking the MCAT in September.

    I recently was approached by a sibling who is well aware of the process of studying for the MCAT and he was saying that one must spend at least 5 months on the preparation. He mentioned that studying for the MCAT is like preparing for the marathon, one must spend months training for it. He eventually suggested I should postpone it until next year and start studying now and keep reviewing, reviewing, reviewing...

    I honestly thought that 3-months of hardcore studying would be suffice.

    I'm an avid user of this forum (even though I just created a username =P), and I've ran into some threads about 'time spent studying' but I wanted clear opinions.

    Thanks in advance!

    EDIT: I have taken all the required courses and I will be taking a mediocre course load both in the Fall and 2011 Winter.
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  3. SN2ed

    SN2ed Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    Jun 27, 2007
    I have more than 4 months until my test, is there anything you suggest?

    There are two things you might want to consider. First, aim for mastery of the material in all of your pre-reqs. Don't go simply for the A. Know the material cold. Next, is reading various materials. Here's my suggested reading list:

    Wall Street Journal
    New Yorker
    Random science journals

    Good source for philosophy/humanities work which people tend to struggle with:

    Moral Issues in Global Perspectives

    I noticed that the philosophy book has gone up quite a bit in price. It used to be available for less than $1. Looking at the items also bought with the book, I'm thinking this is my fault... Oh yeah, if you get this edition, you do NOT need to buy volume 2. What happened is that later editions of the book split the original into 3 different books. The original book has the weird green and black cover. Check with your libraries and see if they have a copy or can get one from another library branch. If you want to buy it, search around used book sites.

    Remember to read the boring articles as well as the interesting ones. Chances are your MCAT verbal passages won't be the most exciting read.
  4. FuturaDocta

    FuturaDocta Pop_Princess_MD 2+ Year Member

    Jan 22, 2009
    Off the charts
    the amount of necessary time only depends on how well prepared you feel at the moment.

    I know some people who are science majors and only need to study a week in advance. They take the test and say that it's really "no big deal." For me, I plan on doing the study all summer thing. Don't even schedule the test until you know you are ready.
  5. 45408

    45408 aw buddy 7+ Year Member

    Jun 13, 2004
    A year is just ridiculous. Seriously? Two or three months of actual hardcore studying should be plenty, unless you're actually learning these subjects for the first time. It's just review.
  6. NYR56

    NYR56 7+ Year Member

    Nov 16, 2008
    Aside from casual review, anything more intense earlier than 3 months is a waste IMO. Study intense for a couple months before the exam, like the summer as you planned, and you will do fine. I studied hardcore for about 6 weeks (and a 1 week Vegas vacation in the middle) and I started to get burned out by the time the MCAT came around. If I studied ANY earlier my score would have decreased, plain and simple.
  7. J ROD

    J ROD Watch my TAN walk!! Lifetime Donor 10+ Year Member

    Aug 1, 2005
    working on my tan......
    Rocket Scientist
    yr is not needed....2-3 months of 30hr weeks...

    the mental drain will get to ya!!
  8. Ceasar

    Ceasar 5+ Year Member

    Oct 14, 2009
    If I may offer my two cents, study as long as you need to. Like someone else said, the MCAT is a marathon to study for. Would you train for 3 months for a marathon? NO! You train for a year. Slow and steady. In the end it's up to you, but I've been slowly studying and it's really been paying off. I took it slow b/c I hate cramming and studying like it's my job. It's much more important for me to have a balanced day. I study from 1 to 3 hours just about every day. Even up to the end, which is in May for me, I will take it easy. I have such a solid base of knowledge because I have spread it out and I really know it. There's no chance for it to fly out the nervous window come test day. Maybe some people are smarter than I am and can learn this in 3 months, but I can't do that. There is way too much info IMHO. Take the year if you want to. Keep that MCAT knowledge on a slooooow simmer and build confidence, scores, all while reducing stress!!! Good luck!
  9. MegaSpectacular

    MegaSpectacular Banned

    Dec 27, 2009
    The problem with this advice, and notice a lot of the advice on this is from people who have not taken the MCAT and done well, is that you want to be in testing condition when the test rolls around.

    Lets say you have 6 months of studying...

    In the last month or two, the material will be freshest in your mind, especially the last 4-6 weeks. Someone who concentrates their study will have covered everything in the last 4-6 weeks.

    People who study over 6 months, ask them, when did you last go over all the material? "well, some of it a few weeks ago and some of it 3 months ago". Do you really believe that the material you went over 90 days ago will be sharp and problem solving ready?

    nope. you need to cover everything in those last 4-6 weeks before the exam. The person doing 2 hours a day will not be covering enough info for it to be fresh come exam time.

    Note: If you are a chemistry and physics major then you probably know the stuff so well that you only have to refresh a little bio. So there are situations where people will be ok with only a few weeks of prep. BUT for the large majority, you want to concentrate study into 2-3 months and cover as much as possible in a day (6 hours is usually ambitious enough but not over doing it).

    Lots of people with the 6 month plan end up not retaining stuff from 4 months ago and end up having to review it again in the last 6 weeks.
  10. Ceasar

    Ceasar 5+ Year Member

    Oct 14, 2009
    Well, of course you step it up in the final weeks/months of the MCAT, which is fast approaching for me, but I have had success doing a general review all year. Plus, my Kaplan class started in October and doesn't end until April, so I've just been going along with that and have scored b/w 30-36 on the last 5 AAMC and Kaplan FLs. Look, in the end, it's up to xquisit, no one can tell you what to do. There are plenty of strategies. Find one that works for you. Light review that's ramped up towards the actual MCAT date has worked for me, and now my studying is getting more intense, but I feel really confident with my knowledge base. I know it's solid and I can rely on talking myself through questions, and this is coming from someone who studied for a few months before the MCAT a few years ago and bombed it, so I'm trying and sharing my new approach with the poster. You don't forget the stuff a few months ago, you broaden your knowledge by applying it on practice tests. Might seem crazy to some, but it's worked for me!
  11. JDissere


    Mar 3, 2010
    I say that for the first 9 months or whatever, just learn the material. in 9 months you could relaxedly do all content review and know everything like its your job by the time T minus 3 months comes around. Supplement with EK 1001 and any other random questions. Do every one of those problems. Then in the final 3 months do like 3 practice tests a week. its probably overkill but i think it would be worth it.
  12. LostInStudy

    LostInStudy 7+ Year Member

    Jan 14, 2008
    I don't agree with the above in bold at all. In an ideal schedule, content review should be completed at the latest about 6 weeks before test date so you can concentrate fully on test taking skills and ability while taking 2-3 FLs per week and concentrating on practice problems.

    I think a one year plan can be done but that is dependent on how much practice material you have. It took me about 4-5 months working full time on the MCAT to do all of the practice material I have including FLs and problems, so someone who did half as much, say 6-8 hours per day could do everything in a little less than a year. But again, it depends on the amount of practice you can get your hands on.

    I don't agree with the whole notion of "you'll forget what you learned earlier" If you're continuously practicing problems and doing FLs after content review then you shouldn't forget the material as long as you review your questions properly afterwards. Combine that with going over the AAMC list of topics once per week, I don't think it's an issue at all. If you're taking a decent set of practice exams then over a period of 3-4 FLs you should cover about 85-95% of everything you need to know and reviewing tests is like content review if you review all the choices.

    Just my opinion on it,

  13. MegaSpectacular

    MegaSpectacular Banned

    Dec 27, 2009
    I'm not saying get through all of your material. When I say cover everything, I mean touch all of the concepts (whether reviewing notes/taking FL/doing practice passages/etc). Its not like I was saying to read every section in the last 4-6 weeks, just to touch the ideas.

    Also, forgetting what you've learned is absolute fact.

    When you said, "if you review, then you won't forget." Well yeah, reviewing it is using it. Going over AAMC topics once a week is also "using" the material.

    I think we have the same ideas, but each is communicating it differently.
  14. LostInStudy

    LostInStudy 7+ Year Member

    Jan 14, 2008
    Ah, I see what you're saying. We are saying the same thing. However, I still think a 1 year plan is still possible if you can get your hands on as much material as possible. I was assuming OP was going to study throughout the year (3-5 hours a day for 5-6 days a week for 7+ months) but yea if you're not going to study throughout the year and take more than a 3 or more weeks off consecutively at a time then it's really no use.

    Use it or lose it definitely applies to MCAT studying.


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