When to start studying?

This forum made possible through the generous support of SDN members, donors, and sponsors. Thank you.


Members don't see this ad.
I am planning on taking the MCAT in January and I will be working full time. When would be the best time to start studying? Nothing is fresh in my mind and my goal is +518. Thanks in advance!

Sent from my iPhone using SDN mobile


Company Rep for now-defunct Course & Bad Singer
15+ Year Member
May 25, 2007
Reaction score
If you are working full time, then you need to start by asking yourself how many hows you can realistically dedicate to doing practice questions. Don't make the mistake most people make in thinking that you need to spend several weeks reviewing content before beginning to do passages and questions, even if it's been a while since you've seen the material. The truth is that you started forgetting things the minute your final ended and whether it's been six months or six years, whatever is forgotten is forgotten and whatever is remembered is remembered. Our mind works better and we retain more when we are applying information rather than trying to recall it. Start your review by doing about a thousand questions. Read and learn from the answer explanations. You are using those first 1000 questions as a combination of a review (which you'll do as you think about the questions and answers) and diagnostic (you'll find you recall more than you thought, but you'll also find there are topics that elude you.) This will go slowly and will probably take you four weeks at 20 hours per week.

From there, go back and review any topics you felt you didn't know well. You can do this via video or reading chapters. A combination of the two is probably a good idea. After that, you want to do another two thousand questions and again review every question again and learn from the answer explanations. At 20 hours per week, this will be five to six weeks.

If there is material you are still unsure about, that's when you break out the Anki and make a conscious effort to memorize anything that you are struggling to recall. From there, you need to do 3000 more practice questions, this time focussing more on test strategies such as PoE, compare/contrast, key-point focus, and so on. This will take another four to five weeks at 20 hours per week.

You will have done 6000 total questions at this point, half for review and half for developing and mastering test skills. If you can dedicate twenty hours a week, that should take you about 13 to ten 15 to do it right.

After those 6000 questions are done and reviewed, then it's time to move on to AAMC materials and any other general review questions you wish to do (another 1500 would be ideal). That will be another 1500 to 2000 questions. That will take three weeks at 20 hours per week.

You then need to take two FLs per week if you have the time, which will be hard working full time. For every minute spent taking the exam, you need one and half minutes to two minutes to review it. You have to carve this time out in your schedule. This will take five weeks to thoroughly do ten FLs.

This means you're looking at 21 to 23 weeks at 20 hours per week minimum for active review. You also need to consider time spent on any videos you wish to review. To thoroughly get ready for this exam and be prepared to get the high score your are aiming for, you'll need 6000 study questions, all the AAMC materials, 1500 additional review questions, and 10 FLs (including 5 from AAMC). You need at least 500 hours spread over what will likely be six months.


Full Member
Feb 5, 2020
Reaction score
Start preparing around 4 months before test day, so some time on September. In my case, I studied for 5 months (first two months = full-time student & last three months = full-time worker). Spend about 6 weeks reviewing contents, move onto practice problems, and spend your last 4 weeks on AAMC materials. I spent about 3-4 hours every night to study, did practice FL's on saturdays, and took the entire Sunday off to rest. I ended up getting 520 on the test. Good Luck!