Please note that this page reflects the opinions of the writers, and that what they "recommend" might not be the best decision for your particular situation. It is highly recommended that you also seek out other testimonies, etc. and make the most informed decision for yourself.

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Disclaimer: there is no one roadmap for how to prepare for the MCAT. While this may not be a satisfying answer, it is important to recognize this fact in order to better plan and prepare for your unique journey through this intimidating (but doable!) test!
With that in mind, we decided to create this section by incorporating feedback from people with different circumstances, experiences, and perspectives.

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You still have to pay full price for the other studying tools.

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Charbel's Two Cents

I had the privilege of being able to dedicate an entire summer solely for studying for the MCAT. I did not have a job at the time, or any other responsibility. I was also able to afford a prep course. That played a big part in how I planned my MCAT studying approach.

I took my MCAT at the end of september, right before starting senior year.

I studied for around 3 and a half months.

I personally used Princeton for content review and I really enjoyed their books. I haven’t tried the other ones but I’m sure they’re just as good. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many different resources, they all have the same content and will get you to where you want to be.

Whichever third party you use for content review, I highly recommend doing UWorld before you ultimately switch to AAMC material for the last phase of studying.

AAMC material is a must. Do it all, thoroughly! Take your time when you’re solving the AAMC practice passages. If possible, aim to go through all of it twice!

This was the hardest part. During the first month, I was very unproductive, unorganized, and honestly overwhelmed. I reached out to my transfer mentor who had already taken the mcat the year before, and talking to him was very reassuring and calming. The main tips he gave was to absolutely ignore all the scores I was receiving on third party materials (non AAMC), and to find a study buddy if possible. I reached out to a friend who was also studying for the mcat and we decided to meet up everyday at a local library to study: we studied independently, each person did their own thing for the most part, but we held each other accountable and asked for help whenever we got stuck. This was HUGE. I can’t emphasize how important having a friend beside me when I was studying for the MCAT. This is a very demoralizing test, going through its ups and downs with a close friend will make it so much more bearable. If you can, get a study buddy!

I am a very unorganized person, and I don’t have the best prep skills, so I knew that creating a study schedule on my own will be a struggle. That’s why I decided to take a prep course. I chose princeton review because my transfer mentor recommended it, but I am not sure how it compares to the other prep courses out there. From what I’ve heard, it seems that princeton review is more thorough, while Kaplan is more concise. The question I asked myself before enrolling in a prep course was: is a prep course worth it or is it overpriced? After taking a prep course, I think my answer is yes. It’s expensive but it will get you there. The live courses were not efficient and I decided to stop attending after a couple of weeks, but I found the study schedule and the targeted practice material to be super helpful. In retrospect, if you are able to afford it, and don’t have the best organizational skills, I would recommend the self paced prep courses: they are cheaper than full prep courses, but they give you the impactful stuff (schedule and prep material) without the inefficient lectures.

My study plan ended up looking like this:

Part 1: princeton content review + targeted practice: this took about 10 weeks. On any given day, I would read about 2 to 3 chapters of assigned content review for half the day, and then for the rest of the day I would do practice passages and MCQ’s that would test me on that content that I had learned earlier in the day. I found this to be very helpful for content retention as opposed to doing for example 5 weeks of content review then 5 weeks of practice. During these first 10 weeks, I did about 3 or 4 practice exams. I recommend using the first four NextStep practice exams instead of the princeton review ones because they are more representative of the actual MCAT. Your scores on these exams DO NOT matter. The purpose of doing third material practice exams is purely to build the stamina for a 7 hour exam. Don’t let the scores get to your head!

Part 2: UWorld practice. I learned about this pretty late so I only used it for 2 or 3 days but it’s a great resource! The explanations they provide for each answer are phenomenal, it’s basically mini content review! If you can, dedicate about 10 days for UWorld!

Part 3: AAMC practice: think of AAMC practice material as the most sacred study material for the MCAT. I used the last month exclusively for AAMC material, and would recommend doing so! Also, your scores on the AAMC practice exams are the only scores that matter. I took 1 AAMC exam per week during this period. If you are satisfied with the scores you’re getting on the AAMC exams at this stage, you are ready to take the MCAT! If you are not where you want to be yet, it’s totally okay to push your exam back, take a little break, and then get back to studying when you feel re-energized and ready! Be kind to yourself! Deadlines are a social construct.

Once you start studying for the MCAT, you will find yourself constantly fine tuning your study strategy and the little things you do on a daily basis. I did not have the best study habits when I first started studying for the MCAT (I still don’t), but I learned a lot about how I learn during that period, which influenced the changes I made to my study strategy. That’s why there is no one roadmap for how to approach the MCAT, what works best for you will depend on your personal preferences, personal characteristics, and your learning style… and it’s okay if you still don’t have a concrete idea of what your learning style really is, you’ll figure out along the way! TL;DR: try a bunch of different things: does it spark joy? If yes, keep it! If no, ditch it!

Personal anecdote: for the first half of my studying period, my CARS score was stuck at 125. I was following all the strategies that princeton CARS book emphasized as MUST USE strategies: rating passages from easy to hard, summarizing each paragraph in a passage, taking notes on theme and tone of each passages, etc… but my score wasn’t budging. After reviewing my practice exams and reflecting, I noticed that I was doing better on the earlier passages but making more mistakes towards the end because I was running out of time. I also noticed that I was spending significantly more time on “harder” passages than on the rest of the passages. For the next practice exam, I decided to drop pretty much all of the strategies I learned from the princeton book. Instead, I decided to give myself the same time limit for each passage regardless of difficulty. My score went up significantly and I never went back to those strategies because they turned out not to be the right fit for me. Find the right fit for you.

  • I would have enrolled in the self study course instead of the full course because the live lectures are not a good use of time.
  • I would have gotten a study buddy right from the start
  • I would have started fine tuning my study strategy earlier, to find the best fit for me
  • I would have done more UWorld practice!
  • I would have dedicated a gym hour every day!

Holly's Two Cents

I wanted to volunteer at the oncology camp at the end of July so I decided to take my MCAT right before then. I also decided to self-study to save money.

I took my MCAT in the July between my junior and senior years, on the 20th, the day before my camp volunteering began.


I studied part-time for 2.5 months, in spring quarter, and full-time for 1 month when summer break started.


In addition to AAMC, NextStep, Altius study full-length exams (FL) (in the order of helpfullness), I used the following for each section:

  • C/P: Berkeley Review Books (2 for General Chemistry, 2 for Organic Chemistry, and 2 for Physics); Chad’s videos for some concepts; some UWorld
  • CARS: AAMC question packs; Princeton Review Verbal Workbook (an old version I found online); some Jack Westin; UWorld
  • B/B: Kaplan review book; Khan Academy videos when necessary; most UWorld
  • P/S: Khan Academy; Anki cards from reddit; UWorld


I slowly started studying when spring quarter started in the beginning of April. I blocked out a couple hours each morning and evening to study, and kind of just started. I made a schedule that indicated what I needed to do each day until the test day, but that schedule was modified countless times after its creation.


I self-studied with resources from the internet (r/MCAT and SDN). I made a schedule out of one I found on reddit. I gave myself all of spring quarter to study for the contents of the MCAT, and the month after school ended to hone in on practice exams. I did struggle with staying on top of my schedule and keeping myself accountable, so you are not alone if you struggle to keep up with your schedule!


Content phase:
I studied one subject at a time, in the order of gen chem, ochem, physics, biology and biochemistry, sociology and psychology. I aimed to sprinkle in CARS practice every day, but that did not happen because I was so discouraged by my low scores and decided that I could not improve it (terrible, terrible mindset-- don’t be like me!) Other than the diagnostic exam I took before I started studying, I did not take other FL exams during this time. I did the practice exams that are in the prep books I was using plus UWorld, in addition to some practice problems from Khan Academy for all subjects. I used Anki along with UWorld because UWorld explanations are thorough and beautiful.

Practice phase:
I first did all the question packs from AAMC, then the section banks and I took the sample test. Then, I transitioned to FLs from third-party and took an exam every 2-3 days. I gave myself 1 to 2 days to thoroughly review each question on the FL after taking it. Then, I tackled the AAMC FLs. For the mistakes I made that resulted in my awareness of my lack of content knowledge, I made sure I would not make the same mistakes again by logging them into Anki. For all my FLs, I mimicked actual exam conditions by waking up at the proper time, eating proper food, taking all the breaks during the exam, and using the proper materials to take notes (i.e., wet-erase marker and laminated pad).

I kept shifting my schedule around to accommodate my realities of studying during school. I also intended to be very diligent about finishing my Anki cards every day, but that did not happen and eventually I gave up trying to do them. I did finish all my P/S Anki cards though. I only learned about UWorld and started using it later into my studying, but after experiencing how much it was helping me consolidate concepts, I decided to do most of them before my practice phase.

Oh boy. So, so many.

First, I would have given myself much more time to study (i.e. taking the exam later in the summer). Although I technically started studying since the beginning of spring quarter, I still had classes, research, and extracuriculars to take care of. I also wanted to apply for leadership positions for a few organizations, so the applications, interviews, and subsequent board transition processes were tough to balance on top of the MCAT. Therefore, my MCAT was on the backburner for many points throughout that quarter.

Next, I would have spent the majority of my time doing practice questions and exams, instead of vice versa. I felt like I was actually integrating and consolidating information when I do practice problems. I remember sitting in YRL reading my Kaplan biology book and feeling like I was big failure because nothing was sticking in my brain. Looking back, it was probably a result of passive learning and burn-out.

Speaking of burn-out, I was definitely burnt out at many points of my studying process. I made the mistake of drastically cutting out my friends and leisurely activities including exercise. In fact, I was so stressed that I did not have ANY social life during the last month of studying, and as a result, I would sometimes become numb and watch YouTube videos for hours, the time that I could have used to rejuvenate myself. Rough times… So don’t be like me and actually schedule in breaks!

Also, I should have really try to figure out my approach to CARS. Although I wasn’t scoring poorly all the time, I was scoring inconsistently depending on the passages I got. My CARS performance on my actual MCAT was unfortunately on the lower end of the inconsistency, so I definitely wished I focused on it more when I studied for the MCAT.

This is a daunting exam, but I think there are so many resources out there for you. Figure out your learning style, support system, and relaxation methods before you jump into it, you will appreciate yourself in the long run! You got this!

​Sam's Two Cents

I was doing an internship for the first half of summer 2017 (between my junior and senior years), and naively thought that I could register and study for the MCAT in two months. By the time my internship ended I could not register for a spot to take it in September so I had to adapt and study throughout the academic year and take it in spring.

I took the MCAT in early April, between the winter and spring quarters of my senior year.

I studied on and off for 1.5 months throughout the summer and academic year, and full-time for 3 weeks directly before the test.


I used the Kaplan MCAT prep book set, along with the official AAMC materials (question packs, section banks, practice tests, etc..). I did not enroll in a course and elected to self-study instead. I also did not get UWorld, which I regret in hindsight. Whichever books you end up getting for material review, the AAMC materials and UWorld are essential to maximize practice and, in result, your score.

I think that most premeds begin by “skimming” the prep books and feeling confident that they know the material and should be good. I was no different! I skimmed the Kaplan books for about a week before finally realizing how big of a test the MCAT is, and the type of skills required for it beyond mere knowledge. I started the dedicated study period after taking my first practice test (which was naturally low), and set a schedule for myself where I mapped out everything I needed to study, with time blocks for different subjects and scheduled breaks.

I did not take a prep course, and relied on my rather under-developed time management skills and discipline at the time to self-study. I had to learn how to be organized, efficient, and focused as I went along, which in hindsight cost me a lot of time. I studied alone in my room in my parents’ place or at a local diner, both of which weren’t as quiet as I needed. I definitely recommend getting a study partner(s) and finding a quiet environment (ideally a library) to maximize efficiency and minimize distractions.

I started studying seriously in August of 2018, waking up at 8AM and starting at 9AM every day. I would study in blocks of 1-2 hours and take 10-30 min breaks. I studied 2-4 chapters from the prep books every day, often doing 2 chapters from a heavy material (Biochem, Chem, Bio) and another 2 from a lighter, easier material (Physics, Psych, Soc). I would stop studying at 6-7PM and relax for the rest of the day. I either worked out in the evenings after studying or in the mornings, depending on my energy levels and what I wanted to accomplish for the day. It is okay to change your schedule and make tweaks as you go along. I had one day off, usually Saturday or Sunday, where I only practiced CARS passages in the morning and had fun for the rest of the day. Overall, during my peak study period, I was putting in anywhere between 35-50 hours a week.

As I started studying, I quickly realized that I cruised through college without having learned how to learn properly and that my mental organization of information was lacking. I would read each chapter one or twice and take some notes then mark it as “finished”. In reality, I retained very little of what I read that way, but I had the illusion that I did. After a week or two of this, I started focusing more on the information by taking detailed notes and annotating each chapter on the prep books. I also started making flash cards which, for some reason, I looked down upon throughout undergrad. I actually found them to be quite helpful. My schedule was very strict at the beginning but I eventually became more lenient and I had to push myself to stick to it and follow through with the deadlines I set for myself.

  • I would have allocated more time for dedicated prep. I would recommend at least 3 months of serious, continuous, uninterrupted study time for optimum outcomes.
  • I would have started doing my research about the registration timeline, nature of the test, and its requirements much earlier. Plan when you want to take the test and keep in mind that you need to register for it MONTHS in advance!
  • I would have explored different techniques of learning early on and weeded-out those that didn’t help and employed those that did faster.
  • I would have purchased UWorld and done more practice problems and tests to increase my test-taking stamina. Do not be fooled by how confident you feel after you study a chapter. Practice, practice, practice! Then practice some more and most essentially, REVIEW thoroughly. The number of practice problems and tests you do (and review!!) unequivocally correlates with your score on the test.