Studying For The MCAT When You Have A Kid Or Kids

Posted on: 29 April 2019

Preparing for the MCAT is very time-consuming whether you are a student, employed, single, or married. Add the responsibility of kids to the equation, and fitting in that study time can start to be impossible. But if you want to get a great score the first time and be done with the MCAT, once and for all, you need to find the time and energy to prepare properly. Here are some tips to help manage that when you have children to worry about.

Enroll in a prep course.

Prep courses are helpful for anyone, especially for parents. When you attend an MCAT preparation course, that's time outside of your home, away from the kids, when you can focus just on studying without someone interrupting you because they want a snack. Prep courses typically take place at the same time or times each week, so you shouldn't have trouble scheduling a babysitter for these times. The course will also assign you homework, so you will have an easier time determining what to focus on when studying at home. And focusing is really the key when family responsibilities limit your study time.

Schedule family quiet time.

Instead of leaving your kids to play and do whatever they want while you study, try having family study or quiet time for an hour or two each evening. If your kids are old enough to do homework, have them do their homework during this time while you are also studying. If they are younger than that, set them up with some paper and crayons to practice writing and coloring or with some easy books to read to each other. If you have a partner, have them take some quiet time to read or study at this time, too. With everyone in the home quiet, you'll have an easier time studying.

Study what you don't know.

Early on in your preparation, take a practice test. (Your test prep course may offer one as a part of the coursework.) Mark which sections you score well on and also which sections you do not score well on. Then, focus your studying on the sections where you need the most improvement. (For example, if you were a chemistry major and only got one chemistry question wrong on the whole test, there's no need to study this topic as a part of your prep!) With this strategy, you'll spend less time studying overall, which will make squeezing studying in around family time easier.

Squeeze little bursts of study time in when you can.

Try to get up an hour before your kids, and spend some of that time preparing a list of small studying tasks you can complete throughout the day. These can be small 10 or 20-minute tasks like "review the Krebs cycle" or "review redox reactions." Put a little box or line next to each task. Throughout the day, whenever you have a few spare minutes — maybe when you're waiting for the kids to come out of school or when you're waiting for dinner to be done — complete one of these little tasks and check it off. 

Make friends with the babysitters.

Make sure you have a list of three or four people who you can rely on to babysit your kids at a moment's notice. This way, if you desperately need to squeeze in an extra few hours of studying one night, or if you decide to attend an extra prep session, you have options for childcare. 

Preparing for the MCAT is an arduous experience, especially when you have little ones relying on you. If you follow the tips above, you'll have an easier time navigating this time without sacrificing your relationship with your kids.