Even the mention of the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) can cause any pre-medical student panic. However, we’re going to spell everything out and make this as simple as possible!
What is the MCAT?
- It is a standardized, multiple-choice exam administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). It is required for application and admission into medical schools in the United States and Canada
How many questions are on the MCAT?
- There are 230 multiple choice questions on the exam.
What is on the MCAT?
- There are four sections on the MCAT
- 1. Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
- 2. Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills ( CARS)
- 3. Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
- 4. Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior
- For the first, third, and fourth sections include 44 questions that are related to a given passage or relevant figures, and 15 standalone, non-passage based questions
- The CARS section is purely passage-based and will ask about 5-7 questions per passage
What subjects are tested?
- General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry, Physics, Sociology, Psychology, Biology, and how well you are about to think critically and reason (i.e., test-taking).
- You do not have to complete every course to take the exam, but it is HIGHLY recommended
How much time will it take the exam, as well as to complete each section?
- The exam takes 7.5 hours to complete
- Each foundational concept is further explained on the AAMC website:
How do you register?
- Follow this link on the AAMC website, which will prompt you to make an account. After you do so, log in and register.
When should I take the MCAT?
- When YOU feel ready. This is an exam that you should aim to only take once
When should I start studying?
- Ideally, studying should begin at least six months before the test date. However, it is important to recognize what works best for you and to take practice exams to gauge your situation.
How should I prepare?
- It is best to prepare for the MCAT with a guided system offered by a trusted test preparation company. Many offer materials, courses, tutoring services, practice questions, and practice tests. Some of the best ones include:
- Princeton Review
- The Gold Standard
- Other resources, including Khan Academy (free), examkrackers, and UWorld, can be used to practice MCAT questions similar to those you will encounter on test day.
- In addition to utilizing the materials offered by the preparation service of your choice, you should create an MCAT study schedule.
- By the day you take your test, you should have at least completed 5-8 full-length tests in test-like conditions to know if you are genuinely prepared to take the MCAT. If you have prepared enough, your official score should be close to your last two practice full-lengths.
How many times can you take the MCAT?
- Study with the intention of only taking the MCAT once
- However, these are the maximum numbers:
- up to 3 times in a single testing year
- up to 4 times in a two consecutive-year period
- up to 7 times in a lifetime.
- Be aware that some schools may only consider your most recent scores, while others factor in previous scores or evaluate you based on your percentile rank.
- Also, be aware that medical schools can see each MCAT attempt.
What are the MCAT score numbers, and what is a good score?
- Following a 15-point scale, MCAT scores range from a low of 118 to a high of 132, with a midpoint of 125 for each of the four sections: (1) Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems; (2) Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS); (3) Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems; and (4) Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior.
- These 4 MCAT scaled scores are combined to create a total score that will range from a lowest possible score of 472 to a highest possible score of 528, with a midpoint of 500.
If I don’t think I did well, should I void my test?
- At the end of the exam, there will be an option of voiding your test score. DO NOT void your test! Even if you don’t think you’ve done your best, your nerves may have a lot to do with that feeling. Also, seeing the breakdown of your score after it is released may guide you in studying for the next time you take the exam.
When will I receive my MCAT Score?
- About 3-4 weeks after you take your exam, you will be able to access your MCAT score via the AAMC website under the MCAT Score Reporting Page. If your application has already been processed, your scores will automatically be released to the schools added to it. As you add more schools to your primary application, the scores will automatically be sent to them.
How much does it cost to take the exam?
- If you register at least two weeks before the test date- $315
- If you register within two weeks of your test date – $370
What if I can’t afford it?
- The AAMC offers a Fee Assistance Program (FAP) is a financial support program provided to eligible students. Benefits of this program include a reduced MCAT registration fee, complimentary access to the Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR), and a waiver for all AMCAS fees for one application with up to 20 schools.
- For more information, please visit the official AAMC website’s link