Time is often the biggest issue when it comes to studying for the MCAT.
With 3 years worth of undergraduate studies to master for the exam, not to mention all the practice passages, full lengths and review, it’s often a race against the clock.
Learning content in Phase 1 is time consuming,
But it doesn’t stop there.
You still find yourself going back to content in Phases 2 and 3 to review and refresh.
(Review the 3 phases of MCAT prep here)
Sure, if you had all the time in the world you could learn every topic in perfect detail, take your time to review, and then start to practice.
But most students need to get through it all quickly, typically in 3-7 months!
And when you’re short on time you may find yourself choosing between quality review taking too long vs a quick flythrough at the cost of mastering the material.
Let’s start with a quick disclaimer. Time hacks CANNOT replace consistent, uninterrupted study blocks.
All the time hacks in the world will not make for a solid study plan unless you also have enough ‘sit down’ time to learn, study, absorb, and practice.
So why bother?
Hacks can help compliment a busy but well constructed schedule.
It can help you make more progress despite a busy schedule,
And make it so that you progress faster without taking the extra time to study.
If you’re a full time MCAT student with nothing else on your plate,
Don’t worry about this. Use your down time to relax.
However, if your schedule barely allows for 10+ MCAT hours per week,
Because you’re running to school or work, taking the kids to school and helping them with their homework,
It’s worth capitalizing on potential multitasking to increase your studying.
Enter the Shower Speakers
Unlike shower markers, shower speakers allow for more passive yet much more intensive multitasking and potential study or review.
This discovery came by accident in the form of a gift:
I didn’t think much of it and stuffed it into a closet to collect dust.
What a silly thing, right?
Then my husband got sick and I suggested a soaking bath.
“Ugh baths are boring”
But we remembered the speakers, hooked up the bluetooth and found a good music playlist on YouTube!
Then it hit me,
The speakers are awesome!
I will admit to singing in the shower and the speakers just make it more fun.
Then my overactive brain kicked in!
I’m a learning addict (that’s why I love teaching)
What if I listen to podcasts in the shower?
Or Ted Talks?!
The possibilities are endless.
Needless to say I’m hooked.
MCAT Studying in the Shower
I feel another reminder is in order: Studying while multitasking is never as effective as a proper sit-down study session.
No matter how much you pay attention you’re still focusing on the topic at hand.
With that said, don’t think of this approach as ‘studying’. Think of it as BONUS Studying.
What if you could use your shower time for bonus study?
MCAT Content PREview in the Shower
I typically need to hear something 2-3 times before I truly grasp it.
This is why I love reading and rereading the same books, and listening to the same audiobooks over and over (I’ve listened to Harry Potter at least a dozen times)!
The first time you see a new topic, you go through the material slowly.
You read and you get stuck,
Or watch till you get stuck.
You try to understand what the heck is going on,
You go to another resource to help clarify.
If you know which topic is coming up in your next study block,
Use your shower time to preview the material!
If you’re about to start Acids and Bases in general chemistry,
Use your shower time to listen to this youtube series.
You won’t catch everything discussed,
You won’t see the drawings and diagrams,
And you won’t understand everything.
Instead, you’ll listen to the basics (no pun intended) and try to wrap your mind around the concepts. Accept that you’ll understand just a bit now and study the rest later.
When you do sit down to study,
The material will feel slightly more comfortable and more familiar.
This will make your study block faster, more efficient, and dare I say slightly more fun?
MCAT Content REview in the Shower
No matter how well you study a topic, if you don’t review you WILL forget.
But taking time to review past material takes away from the ability to study NEW material!
What if you use your shower time to review content you learned yesterday,
Content that you know and understand,
And don’t want to forget.
Every MCAT exam has multiple questions related to amino acids.
Consider listening to my MCAT Amino Acids playlist in the shower once every 2-3 weeks to make sure you don’t forget.
In fact, you can even combine AA review with shower markers to draw out what you hear.
You’re not limited to just YouTube videos.
You can use your shower time for study hall videos, your MCAT program lecture videos, podcasts, and more.
My showers can take anywhere from 10-20 minutes.
Add in a few minutes for shower prep and some time afterwards to dry off, lotion, and getting dressed and that’s at least 30 minutes in the bathroom.
30 minutes where I’m physically too busy to read, but mentally free to listen.
YouTube videos can range from 7-15 minutes.
Even if you’re super efficient and get in and out of the bathroom in just 7 minutes,
You can still absorb a good small chunk of content review.
Shower Speakers Recommendation
I personally use the Boom Swimmer Bluetooth Speaker (received as a gift) which cost $30-$40 on Amazon. I haven’t tried any others but you can get decent (according to the reviews) waterproof bluetooth speakers for as low as $10-$15.
What I like about them:
- They’re waterproof
- The speakers have volume up/down buttons
- The audio is pretty crisp even when my phone is 5-10 feet away
What I don’t like:
To my knowledge there’s no forward/rewind option.
When listening to a playlist I sometimes like to skip videos, and when listening to a podcast I like to rewind segments.
For the most part this hasn’t been an issue as I typically choose to re-listen rather than hear new information in the shower.
My friend uses this one and it does have these options for about ~$15.
Is it worth it?
If you’re going to use it regularly then absolutely!!
Say you use it 4 times a week for 30 minutes at a time. That’s 2 hours of bonus study/review every single week!
Bonus studying that keeps content fresh without wasting much of your ‘sit down’ study time.
Affiliate Disclaimer: If you purchase a set of speakers using my links above I do get a small referral commission from Amazon at no extra cost to you.
For additional study time hacks, check these out:
- Long term MCAT retention use this audio summary strategy ← great for commuting or working out
- Active writing to retain content even as you move on to the next topics
- Balance between taking enough notes while not wasting precious study time
- Additional bathroom studying tips, because let's face it, we all multitask on the can.
- Utilize Flashcards while waiting in line or other moments of down time
- The Pomodoro Technique to ‘gamify’ studying while helping you focus and boost productivity
- The secret to conquer procrastination with a simple ‘winning’ change!
- My personal favorite: The Distraction List to help keep you on track despite squirrel moments that pop up!