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Blog / MCAT Study Guide For Full Time Undergraduate Students

MCAT Study Guide for Full-Time Undergraduate Students

Written by Keenan on Jun 21, 2023

MCAT Study Guide for Full-Time Undergraduate Students

The real challenge of studying for the MCAT isn’t the study itself. With enough time, most students could study enough to do reasonably well. The main problem is that most of us don’t have that much time: Most MCAT students are either in college, or have full-time jobs. So the question is, how do you study for the MCAT while in school?

Studying for the MCAT is a substantial commitment. Thankfully, several organizational strategies can help full-time students or professionals prepare for the MCAT/

MCAT Study Guide for Full-Time Undergraduate Students

Know Your Schedule, Know Your Studying Habits

The first stage of studying for the MCAT is knowing yourself. How studious are you? What study habits help you the most? You need to make a study schedule and hold yourself accountable for it. The easiest way is to set aside specific, repeatable times for study each week. These portions will depend on your work or school schedule and the kind of person you are. 

Are you an early riser working from nine to five? Try to fit in a few hours of reading before work. Studying in the morning is especially helpful for CARS, whose dense passageway makes it challenging to concentrate in the evening after a long and tiring day. 

MCAT TIP: The most effective study program is the one that works best for your particular learning preferences, everyone’s a little different.

Once you have finished reviewing your material, we recommend taking as many full-length practice exams as possible. You can take them on the weekends, but ideally, you should have to make your last attempt a couple of weeks before exam day (off from work or school). But more on that later…

Make Sacrifices When Necessary

The surest way to get a good score on the MCAT is to give yourself as much time as possible and avoid burning yourself out. This usually means that non-essential obligations for your study period, such as clubs, sports, and other extracurricular activities, are relaxed. It’s usually easier said than done, but those extra hours make a big difference. 

You can look at your schedule and say, “I work from 9 to 5 and play club soccer from 5:30 to 7. This still gives me time to study in the evening.” Remember that what looks good on paper doesn’t always work in practice. If you don’t give yourself time off from your study and leisure obligations, you run a very high risk of burning out. Maintaining your mental health by not overworking yourself is essential for preparing for the MCAT.

How to Study for the MCAT While In School: Undergraduate EditionFind the Connection Between Your MCAT Studies and Your Courses

The chances are that you will be taking some science courses during your years at undergraduate, so take advantage of studying for the MCAT while taking these courses to help you excel in your class.

University courses have a detailed curriculum that outlines topics you will cover week by week. If you know your next lecture will be on circuits, read the same topic in the Jack Westin AAMC Outline before that class. That way, you can focus on understanding what’s important for the MCAT and getting started in understanding the material for the next exam in your class.

Develop a Routine

You should make a routine and stick to it as much as possible. For example, if your classes don’t start until 9 or 10 a.m., consider getting up a few hours early each morning.

If your classes start too early, maybe dedicate two hours each afternoon to the MCAT.

It’s essential to develop a routine to avoid becoming overwhelmed with the whole process.

MCAT TIP: Studying in school for the MCAT is only possible if you can overcome it consistently over a long time. 

Allow for Flexibility

The reality is that every week in undergraduate is different. In some weeks you will have nothing going on while other weeks you will have three exams at once.

You should adjust your studies as needed while maintaining your routine as much as possible.

During easy weeks, spend extra time studying the MCAT. When you are super busy with three exams at once, you’d better take at least one day off to focus on that.

While the MCAT is extremely crucial, so are your grades during undergraduate. 

Try to Make a Semester as Simple as Possible

Some semesters in college are a lot more difficult than others. One strategy that students often employ is a reduced schedule, both academically and with extracurriculars. 

During a reduced hours semester, focus on taking the courses that are most important for your MCAT preparation and parley them into your studying. 

Make Sure You Are Held Accountable

Some of us are very self-disciplined, but most of us are not. We may think we can handle ourselves by keeping on track, but many students fall behind because of a lack of accountability.

There are some methods out there to make sure you are held accountable when studying for the MCAT as a full-time student.

Here are some examples:

Join an MCAT Preparation Course

An MCAT prep course is an excellent solution for those who need other students who help them continue in their studies and keep their motivation strong. 

Join an MCAT Study Group

Establishing an MCAT study group with regular visits will provide social pressure to stay on track. 

Hire a Tutor

If you’re spending money on a tutor, you will be more inclined to continue in your studies and at the same time work on your MCAT prep weaknesses. 

Study With a Friend

Having a friend do the same thing you’re doing can create a situation where you hold each other accountable even when you don’t want to, forcing you to study.

Set goals and stay committed to them

Your schedule will not be consistent because of your workload from school, however, set checkpoints/goals full time and work to keep them.

For example, a checkpoint may have three full-length practice tests finished before the end of the first month. Yes, there’s a lot of material review in between those practice tests, but knowing that you should take at least three tests before a certain point will help keep you from falling behind.

Note that when you are studying for the MCAT as a full-time student, you will need to spread the overall program over a longer period. So taking three full length exams in the first month may not be the right fit for you. The point is, find a goal that is going to stretch yourself. 

Set Aside Time in the End for Practice Tests

Time your schedule to have time at the end of MCAT preparation to focus 100 percent on MCAT practice tests.

You should take practice tests during your MCAT preparation, but you may want to take practice tests more often a few weeks before your exam. Just make sure you’re not neglecting proper exam review in between practice tests!

Prerequisites, Prerequisites, Prerequisites 

There is a list of prerequisite classes that must be completed before you can study for the MCAT.

However, plan to study for the MCAT for a long time while you are enrolled as a full-time student. Then, you might get away with taking some of the MCAT prerequisites simultaneously.

You should finish your MCAT prerequisites before studying for the MCAT. Usually, when you are doing a condensed MCAT preparation over one, two, or three months, You don’t want to waste time learning. The material you should have learned in school.

You want to focus all your efforts on the practice problems.

However, suppose you are studying for the MCAT as a full-time student and spending over six months studying for the MCAT. In that case, this gives you more time to learn the material while preparing for the exam.

There is a benefit to studying side-by-side with your pre-scheduled courses. You can prepare for your lectures with relevant MCAT material to have a head start on your class and know what to ask to understand the MCAT material.

How should you prepare for MCAT if you are a full-time student?

Generally speaking, not much different than if you were studying full time. We recommend an approach that is very practice test-oriented.

The key is to do the practice problems and then review them. Frequently.

However, suppose you are taking science courses that cross over with your MCAT studies. In that case, you should take advantage of this and focus on reviewing those parts of your MCAT as you learn it in the classroom. This will help you get better grades in class and develop a better understanding of the subject matter on the MCAT.

The other significant difference is that you will stretch the study for longer. Instead of studying for two or three months, you’ll study for six or seven months. This means that you can stretch the study longer to spend less time per day, but it also means that you will end up learning material again because it is not condensed and fresh in your mind.

Studying for the MCAT while being a full-time pre-med student is possible. Just stay focused and determined for the long haul.

What about studying for the MCAT while working full time?

This is fairly the same as studying for the MCAT as a full-time student.

If you have a job that comes with much downtime, take your MCAT prep materials and study at work. We at Jack Westin  have our exhaustive Question Bank that is a perfect place to start. 

Not everything works like this, and that is okay. But, like being a full-time student, develop a routine, find a way to hold yourself accountable, and don’t waste time!

Don’t Let Yourself Burnout

It is essential, and you don’t want to waste any time, and to limit distractions. However, each week give yourself time to rest. And be consistent about it! Let unwinding be something you look forward to every week.


Studying for the MCAT is certainly possible as a full-time student (or while working full-time). Easy? No, but studying for the MCAT never is; which is why we at Jack Westin have developed some of the most comprehensive and affordable MCAT prep options. From out complete MCAT Courses, to our FREE Weekly Live Sessions, we help students navigate the MCAT from start to finish. 

The main solution is to develop a routine, be flexible from week to week, a study in conjunction with your pre-med classes, and not waste time.

And lastly, keep your sanity for yourself to waste some time every week and forget about your studies. 

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