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How early should you study for the MCAT?

School hasn't started for me yet so I'm currently an upcoming senior and I know I want to go to medical school, does it make sense to start studying this early? I've been studying some of the topics that the MCAT covers so should I even attempt to study from actual resources like practice books?

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Yasemin’s Answer

Hi Arial, good question! I would recommend to study about a year before you apply to medical school. The application process is different; for example if you want to go to medical school after graduating college without any wait, then I would suggest to take the MCAT your junior year around spring such as March/April maybe early May, then apply in June to medical school. Your senior year in college will consist of hearing back from medical schools about interviews and hopefully you will gain an acceptance before you graduate and then you will begin shortly after graduation. I also agree with Richard's comment about retakes, so take the exam early spring if you are not satisfied then don't apply and re-study and re-take when you are ready. That being said you also want to be prepared for this exam so take all the classes you can regarding the prerequisites which will be tested heavily on the MCAT and recommended courses that will help in preparing you better. Give yourself time to study, usually about 400-500 hours of prep time before exam day because the test has been revised and it now includes psychology, sociology and biochemistry as well- know those amino acids! You should maybe study about 3-4 months, that could change though especially if you are in college as a junior with other classes and if you have other responsibilities, some individuals spend 6 months to even a year. It's important to just stay dedicated though and not give yourself so much time to where you ease up on studying, so maybe setting a test date and getting that appointment for your date will motivate you to absolutely be ready. Make sure you do well in your classes though and keep volunteering and shadowing so you can be prepared overall as an applicant!
P.S. Check out AAMC.org and Khan academy, they give great advice for what the MCAT is, in addition AAMC.org is where you begin your application to medical school and there's a ton of information for premed students!

Best of luck!

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Jessica’s Answer

It's never too early to study or to take a practice exam to see where you're at. A higher MCAT score allows more doors of opportunity to remain open and greater scholarship opportunities to present. A good rule of thumb is to review material completely 3 times for subject mastery. Good luck!

Jessica recommends the following next steps:

Take a practice exam for the MCAT
Note your weak areas and spend extra time studying those areas without neglecting appropriate time to your stronger areas
Repeat this cycle every few weeks to months. It's a good way to try different study strategies and to figure out which study method is ACTUALLY working to improve your score based on how YOU learn

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Richard’s Answer

About 2 years before you want to apply. So you could devote the summer between sophomore and junior year to MCAT. Then if you take the MCAT at the end of the summer you can have a chance to retake if you are not satisfied with your score. Then apply to med school during the summer between junior and senior year.

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Will’s Answer

It's great that you are thinking so for ahead - this is the mark of someone who is successful. Deliberate, thoughtful planning is so essential. However, I think that it is premature to start studying for it right now, as you are still in high school. You need to study extensively for it (e.g. 6 weeks dedicated, full time or studying for it over a whole semester with a very light course load). If you want to matriculate immediately after college, I recommend taking it no later than the beginning of the summer following junior year of college. This gives you plenty of time to work on applications that summer, as it is absolutely essential to apply early (the early bird gets the interview worm!) I took only two easy classes the spring semester of my junior year and studied the whole semester for the MCAT, and then took it at the beginning of June. For now, I would focus on enjoying high school and getting AP credit in some of the pre-reqs in order to lighten your undergrad course to 1) make your college life easier 2) allow you to focus more on each class/get higher grades.

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Rachel’s Answer

Start studying about 1 year before you take the test. I recommend the Princeton Review MCAT prep course. Study for the test like it is college course. Every day for several hours for a semester. Take as many practice tests as possible.

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