MCAT and Full Time Work

I would love to know some details about the study strategies of people who work full time and are studying for the MCAT. I am scheduled to take the MCAT in late July. I finish classes in early May, and I am also slated to start a fairly demanding new job in May. I am not sure I will be able to get all the studying I need to feel very confident in 2.5 months, and my courses and job right now take all my time as it is. Not sure if I would be better off either:

  1. declining the job offer (but it is a great opportunity to work in research at a highly regarded cancer center)

  2. take MCAT in September and apply to med school later or 3) take MCAT later and apply next cycle (entering in 2014).

    All this said, there is something to be said for momentum. But I don’t have the most competitive science GPA (cumulative is pretty strong, though), so my MCAT is important and taking it too soon feels like a risk.

    Any advice? Thanks!


I would go with option 3. You can’t have it all.

You shouldn’t decline the job offer. At the same time you need to keep completing your pre-reqs. You also need to prepare and do well on the MCAT.

With a few hours to spare per week, it is better to prepare the MCAT long term, than cram short term, screw it, retake it etc…

My opinion. Good luck

I work full time and started studying back in September for my April 13th exam. I tried to study for 40 hours a week (4 hours per weekday, 10 hours Sat and Sun) but in the beginning I probably averaged around 2 hours per weekday, 8 hours per weekend (26 hours). You definitely give up a lot of nights and weekends. It kinda sucks in that regards.

I took a Kaplan Course from Sept to December and then studied by myself afterwards. I found the actual Kaplan course somewhat helpful but their online material is pretty awesome. I also listened to EK AudioOsmosis in the car or when I had any downtime.

Depending on where your weaknesses are, you may want to shift your studying accordingly. For the last month, I’ve been concentrating on Biology (stuyding for 2 days a week) as it’s my weakest section.

Not sure if you’re ready for the MCAT? Take a AAMC practice exam and see how you score. Good Luck!

My study schedule:

Mon: Biology

Tues: Physics

Wed: Chemistry

Thurs: Organic

Fri: Verbal

Sat: Biology Practice Problems

Sun: Physics and Chemistry Practice Problems, Practice MCAT Exam

I work full-time during normal business hours. Immediately after work, I drive to a coffee shop and spend the night there. I rest on weekends. I started studying in Feb. I am only doing EK lectures till the end of April. I will do quizzes and exams on May, that way I relearn everything i have studied and will be better prepared for AAMC Exams in June. Real exam will be late June or July depending on my practice scores.

MCAT work is a bit monotonous.

I’ve been working full time for my entire pre-med journey. I started classes in Spring of 2011… did spring, summer, fall, and now spring again to finish. My classes are at night, and I get home between 9-10pm. Then, I squeeze in time with my family before hitting the books.

Weekends are reserved for my children during the day, and I study at night. MCAT? Well…I have to be honest. I’m taking it in 3 weeks, and I haven’t put in NEARLY the time that I wanted to. I try to spend about an hour a day on it (over lunch, at my desk), and I pour over at least one section of a practice test as often as possible.

I’m taking Orgo and physics right now, and I tutor general chemistry (for high school students), so all that material is fairly fresh. Biology is my weak spot. (Took Bio I-II back in '97, retook Bio I last spring, but didn’t have time to retake Bio II).

We shall see… but working full time, having a family, taking 8 hours of upper class science courses, and studying for MCAT has been…well, a stretch. I wouldn’t recommend it if at all avoidable.

You have a few options. At least you have that…

Thanks everyone. After mulling it over for a looong time, I think I might keep my test date and wait until I am a few weeks into my schedule and decide exactly when to take it. I thank you for your input. I realize I cannot not take this job -it’s too good an opportunity. Thanks your input!

So glad to have found this blog … Good to know there are other “non-traditional” pre-meds out there. I am worried about studying and taking the MCAT. It’s been 10 years since I graduated with my BS in Chemistry(read: all of my pre-reqs)But just graduated with my MPH in December. I have had to go back and relearn a lot of things. I took TPR course - I didn’t find the course helpful, but I do like having the study materials. I am looking for a study strategy for the next couple months to really get in the MCAT mode. Any suggestions? I work in an immunology lab at a cancer center, 9-5, with very little down time. Any words of advice for best ways to study, focusing on evenings and weekends without burnout, would be great. Also, are there any good auido study guides? I have a 60-90 minute commute each way daily, I would love to be able to use that to my advantage.

In a rapid turn-around I actually changed my mind and turned down the job offer (scary but I feel relieved). A sudden health issue is going to have me visiting a doctor 3 times a week through June. I realize I would not have time between that, my job and my long commute to do it all. I am in a situation where I can barely afford it, but I can skim by, with my awesome husband’s help, it will all work out. And, I live in a city with a lot of medical researchers, so I figure that if I could get one job offer, I might get another in a few months. we’ll see.

Bayoubelle, in response to your questions, I did receive a ton of advice over the past few months about studying fro the MCAT while working full time. Here it is in a nutshell:

  • You should spend 6 weeks (if studying part-time - 4 weeks full time) working on the the official practice exams.

  • Find a quiet, comfy spot and commit yourself to a bit of burnout (I think with your schedule it is unavoidable), and study for 3-5 hours per night (depending on your brain and need for sleep) - but know you will be done if you put in the time.

  • Do the AAMC practice exams (from #5 onward) in the final 4-6 weeks of study. Spend 3-6 days reviewing them, as well as reviewing the material chapter by chapter for each subject every week.

  • Exam Krackers seem to be the most concise books for review, and is supposed to be the best for physics - might be worth the $.

  • I have already started the Exam Krackers 1001 which are widely recommended for general review. But maybe not needed if you already took the course?

  • Exam Krackers Audio Osmosis CD is supposed to be okay. There is also a guy here in NYC at Think MCAT who has an audio that is supposed to be particularly good for Bio.

    One other recommendation to me was to:

  • make sure to exercise. Take your lunch hour to go for a walk (make with some audio osmosis) or run or whatever. The oxygen really does help your brain, and it will help you to relax.

  • If you tend to stay late at work arrive a little bit early to get your head together, but leave at 5 on the nose and be regimented about your schedule (this is the key recommendation that seems to be universal).

  • To keep from going crazy, allow yourself 8 hours sleep and leave a 1.5 hour buffer between studying and bed so you know you will be mentally relaxed enough to sleep.

  • Most people say to take a rest day on the weekend. That will help you stay focused during those long evenings all week and also just to do something that makes you happy, even if it is just laundry. You can always sneak in a little reading of your favorite subject, I suppose.

  • Take your practice exams once a week on the weekend at the same time as your MCAT, and spend the rest of the week clearly understanding where you went wrong and where you went right, and rereading chapters.

  • Spend time on verbal even if you are good at it.

    Above all, everyone advises to have a clear plan of action and stick to it as hard as you can. Try your hardest!