How Rest and Breaks Helped This Student’s MCAT Score

First Name


What did you major in? (or what are you majoring in?)

Biochemistry, Biology, and Psychology

How Much Time Did You Give Yourself to Study, and Do You Think it Was Enough (why/why not?)

3 months in the summer with 1 month of content review. It was around 300 hours of studying.
I feel like it was enough time for me, since I had taken all of the pre-requisites.

When Did You Take the MCAT and What Was Your Decision on When You Took It?

September 1st. I took the exam when my AAMC exams were a couple points from my goal score.

Were You Done With Prereqs? If Not, How did You Decide to Which Ones You Were Okay Self-Studying?

Yes, it made my studying a lot easier to have the content like biochemistry recently studied.

What Did Your Study Schedule Look Like?

I had a full-time medical research position, so I could only study at night during the week. I studied 2-3 hours per night and after 1 month did a full length almost every Saturday.

What Else Were You Doing Besides Prepping for the MCAT?

I am a full-time medical research intern.

How did you prepare for the MCAT?

I took the Kaplan in-person course, utilized Kaplan books, AAMC materials and full-length practice tests

How Many Practice Tests Did You Take?


How Did Your Review Your Practice Tests?

On Sundays, I would write down the questions I got wrong and make a list of content to review during the week. I believe that reviewing my exams really helped me to achieve a balanced score.

What were your top MCAT resources?

AAMC hands down is the best especially for CARS and psych/sociology. I enjoyed the structure and relationships I gained from my Kaplan In person course. Khan academy is the best for reviewing, but make sure to incorporate practice problems.

How Many Times Did You Take it To Get a Score You Were Happy With?


How Did Your Actual Score Compare to your Practice Tests? What was the Most Accurate (AAMC/Kaplan/Next Step/etc)?

I scored 2 points higher than AAMC and 6 points higher than Kaplan. I also scored 5 points higher than Next Step exam 1.

Roughly How Much Did You Spend on your MCAT Prep?

I only spent about $500, since I had a scholarship for Kaplan course (Kaplan courses are roughly $2500).

How Did You Keep Yourself Motivated?

I made a calendar and checked the boxes when I was done. Also, I went to a lot of coffee shops and drank a lot of coffee. Break days are critical! Friday nights I always relaxed and went out with friends.

Best Tips (Studying, Test Day, etc)

By far the best tip I have is to relax the day before the test. I didn’t study at all and got a massage. I was calm before test day too. A calendar and breaking down your studying is also helpful.

What Would You Do Differently?

I was lucky to score the same score in each section of the test. My friends did not have balanced scores, so make sure to focus on your weaker areas.

Dr. Gray’s Notes

Tara has some great advice for relaxing before the test. It is so important to take a break and let your mind rest and prepare for the big day it has ahead. If you have to read something, do something light.

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