How Long Should I Study for the MCAT?

Instructor: John Beard
Preparation for the MCAT might seem like an overwhelming job, but there are many resources available to help you along the way. Read on to learn where to find them and discover how long you should expect to study. You can also get a breakdown of the subject matter you'll be tested on.

When to Start Preparing for the MCAT

While there is no hard and fast rule for how long it takes to prepare for the MCAT, recommendations for when to begin an organized study regimen range anywhere from two or three months to a year ahead of your test date.

Some schools suggest you start by taking a practice exam to see which areas you need to work on, study accordingly, then repeat the process until you feel confident you can handle the real exam.

It's also important to remember that the MCAT is offered on specific test dates with predetermined registration deadlines. Keeping this information in mind while developing a study plan can help ensure you give yourself plenty of time to reach your maximum level of preparedness before your test date arrives.

What You'll Be Studying

The MCAT is organized into four sections that are drawn from the following disciplines:

  • Biology and biochemistry
  • Chemistry and physics
  • Sociology and psychology
  • The humanities and social sciences

The first three sections of the exam are designed to assess your knowledge of relevant scientific principles, your reasoning and problem-solving skills, and your familiarity with scientific research components, data analysis, and mathematics. The final section is used to measure your ability to analyze and interpret informational texts from the humanities and social sciences.

Where to Find Test-Prep Resources

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the creator of the MCAT, offers an official online practice test. It's designed to work just like the real test and, once you've bought it, you can take it as many as 20 times if you need to. offers a complete test prep course designed to help you review for the MCAT. This course is taught by subject-matter experts with experience in the classroom. The lessons are built around brief videos and matching transcripts. Quizzes, chapter tests, and a practice final are also included to help track your progress.

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