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take 200....how to create a study schedule

Discussion in 'MCAT: Medical College Admissions Test' started by crazymedgirl, Dec 23, 2008.

  1. crazymedgirl

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    Hey guys,

    Just wondering if anyone has some tips for me...

    I plan to start studying for the MCAT in late January and take the May 28 or June 18 test.

    I'm using EK complete study guide as well as Berkeley Review for Physics, O-chem and Gen Chem.
    I'll also have the AAMC tests and some Berkeley Review tests (plus any free ones.)

    I'm kind of nervous about not taking a course, as most people I know are doing so. I'm pretty good about sticking to a schedule as long as I have one...it's coming up with one that's the hard part.


    Would anyone be interested in posting a sample schedule for studying over a four month (approx) period? I know Examcrackers has a ten week one, but I'm working with a longer amount of time...

    Does anyone have the syllabus from a Kaplan or TPR course that they could share?

    Also--in general, what is the best point to begin doing practice exams? Should that wait until the content review is done, or is it good to do some at the beginning as well?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
     
  2. Hyperstudyosis

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    I'm also trying to come up with some sort of a schedule. I'm not taking a prep class and I know if I don't make some kind of schedule and make myself stick to it, I will get busy with classes and work and not study. I do not want that to happen, so I need to get myself into a schedule at the beginning of the semester. I'm scared......
     
  3. Doctormo24

    Doctormo24 Senior Member
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    I'm looking for the same thing guys.
    Going to be using EK, TBR (Physics and Gen Chem) and have some TRP material. Taking the 3/28 exam. Wanted a study schedule as well but don't know how to go about making one
     
  4. Ailleurs

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    OH!!! This sounds like a great idea :)

    Since we are all starting around the same time and taking the test at the same time we could make like our own "study group." we'll try to come up with sample schedules and like we could possibly keep each other in check like, HEY! MAKE SURE YOU DO YOUR # HOURS OF MCAT STUDYING TODAY! OR...DID YOU TAKE THAT PRACTICE EXAM YET? Well, okay not like that per se, but you guys get the gist :D

    I would LIKE to say a month of content review and those last 2 months just practice test after practice test. Like maybe try to learn as much physics and chem the first 2 weeks and as much orgo and biology the last 2 weeks. and then start taking practice tests (and re-learning the weak stuff and strengthening the strong stuff).

    The first 2 weeks of the 2nd month, perhaps take a practice exam on the same exact day and time that your real test will be and simulate real test conditions (so that means 2 practice tests within the first two weeks). For the third week, take 2 practice tests that weekend (one on friday, give yourself a break, then one on sunday OR one on saturday and one on sunday OR you can come up with the possibilities. If you are maso, you could take 2 tests on the same day but then....WHY?). Starting the fourth week, you could try to fit in as many practice tests as possible (I would prefer taking one every other day just to build my endurance) and then 3-4 days before the test, just relaaaaax.

    As for the day between tests, spend those days REALLY scrutinizing your choices. For example:

    • Why did I pick this choice?
    • Was I thinking of something?
    • Was I lazy?
    • Did I guess?
    • Did I get this correct by chance?
    • Since I got this question wrong how could I have gotten it right?
    • Did I really understand the meaning of that passage?
    • Does the answer make sense to me?

    And etc. But that's just my take on it. I've been slacking but I don't want to delay my MCATs any further... :eek:
     
  5. Doctormo24

    Doctormo24 Senior Member
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    I really like your idea/enthusiasm babyxpink!

    For the March 28 exam, starting today I estimated we have about 93 days/ 13 Weeks. Someone correct me if I'm wrong about that.

    Right now on focusing on content review and when I'm finished with that then will start taking the practice exams. I like your idea of using the first month as just content review, I see that as being efficient for me as well.
     
  6. crazymedgirl

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    thanks for the responses, guys! nice to see others in the same situation....
    one thing, tho--i was assuming it was going to take me at least two months to do a full content review. but maybe i'm planning on studying for less hours per day?

    otherwise, good suggestions!
     
  7. SN2ed

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    I'll post something sometime next week. I've just been busy with the holidays, video games, and volunteering. In the meantime, check out the 30+ study thread and the MCAT FAQ. The 30+ thread will probably be particularly helpful because it details the study strategy used by various people to get 30+.
     
  8. patvim

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    well, i have a question ? How can i get those aamc test ? Do i have to pay for them? And where can i get it ? I have started preparing for mcat this dec 17 and what to give test in jan ending . Some kind of help would be highly appreciable . Thank you.
     
  9. scaredoflife

    scaredoflife Eaaagglleee
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    http://www.e-mcat.com/

    Is the site where you can buy AAMC tests they are 35 bucks a piece.
    Patvim don't you think less than two month schedule of studying is short for the MCATs? If you are confident go for it, but usually it takes about 3 months average for people.
     
  10. scaredoflife

    scaredoflife Eaaagglleee
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    Reply to OP

    I am also taking the June 18 test.

    My study schedule so far has been going over content review for 2-3 months, using the EK 1001 question books also. Then after 2-3 have finished I plan on taking tests and reviewing what I have done wrong for a good 1-2. Than the last few weeks I plan on just going over my weakness areas and doing flashcards and going over some passage and any extra stuff I can get.
     
  11. Calheesh

    Calheesh Boss.
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    Alright lets be real about this. If your not taking a course like myself, you do want to have some sort of plan. I am taking the MCAT May 22nd and like you, I too wanted to make some sort of schedule for my self to follow, but then I realized that it just isn't going to work. Let me tell you why it's not such a great idea first and then I'll tell you what you CAN do.


    Making a schedule may seem like the right idea at first but then when you really think about it, there are so many factors that can screw your schedule up and you'll end up spending more time revising your schedule rather than studying which is very counterproductive. Let me give you an example. Suppose you plan that you want to take a practice test on a certain day and you find that you spend way more time reviewing it (after your all done with it) and your stuck on a concept. Odds are your going to want to study that concept until you fully understand it and if your like me I have to understand it completely or I won't move on (OCD?). This takes time! So you end up having to push what you were going to do the next day over another day or two. Second, there will be times where you schedule has a lunch break or whatever and you end up spending more time eating than you actually should or find yourself taking a way longer break just because you see something interesting on the internet. All this shifts your schedule that you designed to "perfection". Another thing is when you make your schedule I'm pretty sure your going to want to have a list of all the materials you have for studying i.e. a list of all your practice tests and books. Making this list may take a few hours but incorporating all the material into your schedule will add to that. The list goes on but this is not to say that a schedule is useless. All I'm saying is your probably going to get all hyped about having something to follow but then it turns out that it's way more work than you thought.


    So my suggestions are (this is what I do):

    1. Make and excel spreadsheet or word doc. and label all the materials you have for practice. ex. verbal tests, bio. tests, chem. tests, full lenght tests...etc. and put how many of each tests you have next to the name. So like if you have 5 verbal tests (or passages whatever). Label it 5 verbal tests. Have a column free next to it so you can put an X for every test you complete for each subject.

    2. Make another excell spreadsheet for keeping track of what you do on a daily basis. Have 6 columns labeled: Date, time, hours, studied, progress, notes. Mark the time you start studying until the time you stop. If you take breaks you can either mark the time you stopped for a break or just estimate how much time you took off and subtract it. Under studied put the subjects you studied for that day. Under progress put all that you did. For example, maybe you completed prereading all of lecture 1 for EK Bio. and also completed some in lecture problems. Under notes put down what you were confused on or if you found out that you cleared up a concept that you were stuck on for that day, put that down too. I find that to be useful because sometimes the concepts you have trouble with may get cleared up 1 day but the next day your like "uhhhhhhhh.........". So putting down that you cleared something up helps because you remember what concept it was and it should click that you fully understand it. Also under notes just put a note that you should remember to memorize certain things like hormones for example.


    This is what I do and I really do like it as compared to a set schedule. Other people may beg to differ but I find it to be very helpful for me. The benefits I see in this approach are that you don't need to constantly alter your schedule which is time consuming, you can spend more time on a subject if you really need to and lastly, you can easily see where your slacking because your keeping track of how much time your spending on subjects.


    If anyone uses this I hope it works out for you. :)


    Edit: Oh and I also forgot to mention that if your going to have classes it's also going to be hard to schedule around them.
     
    #11 Calheesh, Dec 26, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2008
  12. Simran1031

    Simran1031 Princess of 2014=)
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    hey guys! i just started a study schedule a few weeks back that has kaplan and EK both listed..and i have made a tab for weak areas.daily schedule..as well as few other things...i think the best way to go about making a schedule is to be honest wiuth yourself and also a place where you can track your progress..pls PM me if you would like me to send you a copy of my excel sheet..it has helped me tracj the mcat stuff i have been doing..im working full time until jan 15 so i have only been able to study a little but..but after jan 15. that schedule is going to be crazy! =)
     
  13. Simran1031

    Simran1031 Princess of 2014=)
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    i agree with the post above..its good to note that down what is giving you ptoruble and be very specific about what you have done..becasue with so much material to cover it is easy to feel overwhelmed..
     
  14. SN2ed

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    Given your time limits, (2 hours per day on school days, Sunday off, Fri & Sat study all day) I couldn't come up with anything good. Sorry for the bullets, I'm too lazy write every out right now. Ah the holidays. Remember, this is just ONE opinion.

    I typically break down MCAT studying into three major sections:

    1. Heavy content review + practice problems
    2. Choke to death on practice problems
    3. MCAT FLs + practice problems on off days

    You would have an easy time if studying for the MCAT only involved section 2.

    In section 1 these are the potential problems:

    1. Barely have time to simply read through an EK or BR chapter. Heck, you might not even be able to finish reading in 2 hours.
    2. Won't be taking that many timed practice problems
    3. Won't be able to effectively review said practice problems. Thoroughly reviewing your problems typically takes at least 2x longer than actually completing the problems
    4. Can't cram remaining work for the week in 2 days. After awhile of continuous studying you probably won't be absorbing the information anymore.
    5. If you used Fri and Sat for practice problems (which was what I was initially thinking of), you'd still have problems with the content review.

    Section 2:

    You're probably okay for this one.

    Section 3:

    It is tough for you to take enough practice FLs given the time constraints. At best you're looking at one practice test per week (take test Fri, review Sat) and practice problems on the 2 hour days. The reason why I don't suggest taking a FL on Fri and Sat is because you probably won't have enough time to review both tests. A practice test that hasn't been reviewed is a waste of a practice test.

    Now another thing I thought about was taking one FL per week for a couple months (along with practice problems). You'd get 8 FLs which is good, but I think that might dilute their effectiveness a little too much.



    These are the problems that I see. However, knowing the enemey is half the battle right? Now that I thought it out, maybe I'll come up with something later.

    When does your school end? Can you delay your test date? If you can devote 1.5-2 months completely to the MCAT, then you'd probably be good.
     
  15. crazymedgirl

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    Thanks for the response, SN2ed! I end school May 21st but don't want to take the test later than June 18th because I don't want to apply that late. I am also planning to work in a lab during the summer--if I get into the program I want to, I'd start around June 11th, giving me about 3 empty weeks from the end of school to study full-time. Which would help, I guess, in terms of taking back to back practice tests.

    I think it's just going to take a lot of focus and discipline to do this while in school. It's a matter of using the time we have..

    Anyway. Thanks for trying..if you do think of anything else, let us know!






     
  16. SN2ed

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    Just a reminder, it doesn't matter how early you apply if your MCAT score isn't good. Don't rush yourself. Worry about the MCAT first and get a good score, then think about applying. It's not a good idea to do the reverse.
     
  17. Alvarez13

    Alvarez13 PGEEE2 mediates FEEEVER
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    Does anyone use the outlines on the AAMC site: http://www.aamc.org/students/mcat/preparing/start.htm? I haven't seen this mentioned in any of the "create a schedule" posts so far. I would think you would want to go straight from this list.

    I think my plan is to open the bs and ps .pdfs on that link, paste the main topics into microsoft onenote, and then hit em one by one. For each big section (ie circuits, optics, fluids...), just read my related EK sections, scan my test book quickly, and then do some practice problems and try to keep taking full tests every weekend. Blah...so much info!
     
  18. Vihsadas

    Vihsadas No summer
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    That's not a bad way to approach it, but beware that some of the topics listed on those PDFs are not exactly self-explanatory in terms of what you are actually supposed to be learning for the exam. The review companies have a pretty good handle on what will usually show up on the exam, so I would start with a few of those books. Personally, I got both the Kaplan and the Princeton books and was surprised to see that there were some differences between the two. I used a few more different sources (internet, various other publishers) as well. Using study material from multiple independent sources definitely helped me.

    Now, that being said, when you're done all of your studying and some practice tests, you should be able to go through the AAMC topics PDFs and check off all of the topics you know, since you should have learned them throughout studying with different test prep materials.

    Here's a breakdown of the gist of how I approached the MCAT:

    Months 1-2, Content review, initial studying of the material, practice problem sets, and some practice passages. Consistent studying in verbal a few times every week (1-3 passages at a time, 3-4 days a week or something like that).

    So I basically studied the Kaplan and Princeton books side by side, using the kaplan book as a guide for pacing my content review, but also using the relevant sections in the princeton book to reinforce the material.
    I broke down the studying into 4 sections per week. As in, I'd rotate through 3/5 bio sections, 3/5 gen chem sections, 3/5 physicis sections and 3/5 orgo sections each respectively on a different day of every week. This way I don't spend 3 full weeks learning bio and then forget it all after learning physicis. I have a some of each section each week. I'd continue this until I was finished reviewing all of the material. Of course I spent less time on the parts that I was more comfortable on, and a bit more time and more practice on the parts that I was not comfortable with. If I thought something I learned on say, Monday was starting to fade, I'd put down whatever I was doing and review it for an hour or so on a different day and then continue on.
    Basically I worked a full time+ study day almost every day: every time that I wasn't either hanging out with friends (once every 1-2 weeks or so for 4-5 hours), or doing something else, I was studying. So I mostly studied 5-12 hours everyday.
    Everyone should have a schedule of how they are going to spend their time, but I guess my point is that for some of you, having a daily, hour-by-hour schedule may not be the best way to go. It might be better to divide your content review up into days or weeks and then just attack it. This might work better for some people than having a rigorous schedule to abide by. Now, I do believe in making schedules and I think that everyone should have a written outline organizing their time, but it's the level of detail I'm talking about here. You should organize your time in the way that is best for you, and that may not be the way that is best for someone else.

    Now, after those initial 1-1.5 months I did a brutal string (about 1.5 months) of full-length practice exams. In the days off I thoroughly reviewed my exams and all the concepts on them, but also supplemented with peripheral content review of the sections I was hazy on, and especially concepts relating to the parts of exams that I missed. I feel that this last 2 months of my studying is where I really learned. For this section of my schedule, check out my signature. The link there has an attachment of an excel file that you all may use to track your full-length exam progress.
     
  19. Ailleurs

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    Yay Vihsadas! Thanks so much for that wonderfully lengthy and much appreciated information. You must be sick by now giving advice to people are you not?!
     
  20. Yope

    Yope New Member
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    Study whenever you can (not trying to sound like a jerk). On the subway, bus, and train I had an MCAT book open (when I couldn't get a seat I listened to audio osmosis). During lunch breaks, etc. Whenever you can get time, do some work. It will add up.
     
  21. Alvarez13

    Alvarez13 PGEEE2 mediates FEEEVER
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    I think Vihsadas is dead on. I'm taking this thing in at the start of May, so 1-2 months to get the content in my head and then 2 months of doing every practice test I can find. I've got the EK books and Audio Osmosis so I think I'm going to buy Kaplan and do both of those methods side by side and take notes.

    Can't wait til this is done...
     
  22. yezzur

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    hey guys
    this is a great thread
    i just want to input my study schedule...im planning to take around May or June (havetn decided) and apply this year 2009.

    hmm i only work part time, taking one class at a CC (o-chem, since i got a freakin C- at my university). Basically, i have A LOT OF TIME and i need to do well.

    the month of January, im using examkrackers...im trying to go over EVERYTHING this month. its pretty doable if you do one lecture a day, and alternate between physics, chemistry, and biology (im not gonna do ochem just yet) and do 3-5 passages of verbal a day.

    then from there on, its just PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE

    i have books from Princeton Review, the course i took a year ago, i bought The Berkeley Review books and Exam kracker books. and of course the official practice tests.

    Hopefully, this works out right and i get a good score and APPLY EARLY shivers
     
  23. Hyperstudyosis

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    I'm freaking out about the MCAT...I've done a little bit of studying, but I need to really get consistent with it. I'm so nervous because there's not going to be enough time to do everything. I'm taking 17 credits this semester, plus tutoring, plus I need to get another job so I can work 20 hours a week (or else I will run out of money). Last semester I took 12 credits and did research and tutored and I was constantly busy. I'm going to be even busier this semester. The good thing is that I'm taking physics and ochem 2, so they will be fresh on my mind and I'm tutoring gen chem, which has helped me study for the MCAT tremendoulsy. But I'm still freaking out. I REALLY want to be able to get into medical school.
     
  24. Vihsadas

    Vihsadas No summer
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    You've got to take everything one step at a time. It sounds like you've got a lot on your plate, so that means you're going to have to be very strict with your time management. You'll also have to sacrifice most, if not all of your social activities. Now, realistically, even just finishing out the year and taking the MCAT in the summer and waiting one year would be totally fine. Remember, don't rush the MCAT. You need to take it exactly when you are ready to take it. If you take it too early, you'll have to take it again, and that's even worse than having to wait one year to apply!
    My mantra when approaching the application process is to take everything one step at at a time and make sure that you have all of your ducks lined up in a row before you apply. If that takes one year, great. Two, great. If it even takes three years (like me) then that's okay too. You just absolutely have to make sure that you are able to get all of the things that you need for your application done, and done superbly. Don't sacrifice quality for speed, if you need more time for the MCAT, then postphone it. Worse comes to worst, you just get a job next year and apply to med school during a gap year. There will be absolutely no negative reprecussions from waiting one year, assuming you have been productive with your time. Now, I am not suggesting that I know enough abour your situation to advise you 100% to take a year off, but it's something for everyone to consider. If you think you can handle everything right now and the MCAT with a firm kick in the butt, then I am confident that you can! Just make sure you've fully evaluated your situation and have decided the best course of action keeping in mind: do not sacrifice application quality for speed. Good luck. :)
     
  25. Hyperstudyosis

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    Thanks. I was thinking about taking another year, but I really don't want to because I really want to start medical school. I was even thinking about staying in school for another year and getting a double major. My mom really seems to be against this though. I don't think she understands how it is with the MCAT. She tells me, well it's ok if you don't get a good score because you can just retake it. I've told her that med schools can see all your scores and I shouldn't take it if i'm not ready, but she doesn't understand that. I'm registered to take it on May 22nd and she paid for it, so I'm kind of stuck now because she paid and she's set on me taking it.
     
  26. Vihsadas

    Vihsadas No summer
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    That's rough. But hey, those are the cards you have been dealt, so it's up to you now to make sure that you've done everything in your power to bring about a successful outcome. :) It might take loads of sacrifice from here until may, but you have to do what you can do. Also, if you can come up with the money yourself and you feel more comfortable with taking the test at a later date, then you need to do that. It's that important...I know your mom isn't who my mom was, but I can imagine that if my mom was in the same situation with me, she'd say or do something similar to what your mom did. :p That being said, I would still go against her wishes because I know that it is the best thing for me in the long run, and all things considered, my mom would not hold it against me forever. After a few months or so, we'd be friends again no problem, I'd have a better shot at medical school and all would be well.
     
  27. korsibor

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    Vihsadas. How long did it take u to study?
     
  28. Vihsadas

    Vihsadas No summer
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    I study for about 3.5 months, but I capped out around 2.5 months. I studied about 40 hours a week.
     

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