MCAT® Exam Guide

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What is the MCAT?

MCAT® stands for Medical College Admissions Test®. It is a multiple-choice examination designed to evaluate problem-solving, critical thinking, written analysis, and natural behavioral and social science concepts and principles students must understand before studying medicine. The MCAT helps medical school admissions committees assess a candidate’s likelihood of success in medical school.

What is on the MCAT?

The MCAT consists of 230 multiple-choice questions broken down into four sections:

  1. Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  2. Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  3. Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
  4. Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

See the complete MCAT content blueprint.

Is the MCAT difficult?

The seven-hour plus length, comprehensive scope, and intensity of the MCAT make it a difficult exam, even for the most gifted students. The MCAT covers a broad range of topics across many hard science disciplines, including biology, physics, and organic and inorganic chemistry, as well as social sciences and humanities. The MCAT is designed to reward you for not just knowing concepts but also understanding how to apply them.

When should I take the MCAT?

Ideally, one year before you apply to medical school. For example, if you want to apply during your senior year of college, consider taking the MCAT as you head into your junior year. That said, it is wise to take the MCAT only when you feel ready so you give yourself the best chance of achieving your target score.

When should I start studying for the MCAT?

As early as possible. The average pre-med student will study between 240 and 300 hours, while the above-average student will study 300 plus hours. Completing the exam earlier will allow you to retake the exam if you fail to achieve your target score and give you more time to prepare your second round of medical school applications.

How do I study for the MCAT?

First, download and familiarize yourself with the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC)’s MCAT Essentials for Testing Year 2020 as it contains official policies and procedures for taking the MCAT exam and information about registration, scheduling exam, test-day rules, etc. What materials you use to study is entirely up to you as there are several available options. For a comprehensive MCAT exam prep resource, we recommend our UWorld MCAT exam learning platform.

How is the MCAT scored?

You earn a score for each of the four test sections, with scores ranging from a low of 118 to a high of 132, and a midpoint of 125. Then your scores for the four sections are combined to create your total score, with scores ranging from 472 to 528, and a midpoint of 500.

What is the MCAT passing score?

The MCAT does not have a set passing score. What is considered a “passing score” on the MCAT depends on several factors and each medical school sets its own average MCAT score for acceptance. While admissions criteria vary from one school to another, recent data has shown that a score range of 514-528 will put you in the top 10% of all test-takers while scores of 508-513 will put you in the top 25% of all test-takers.

What MCAT score will get me into medical school?

It depends. Each medical school considers multiple factors in addition to your MCAT score to determine whether or not to admit you into their program. According to U.S. News, among medical schools with the highest MCAT scores, applicants reported an average MCAT score of 517. The admissions criteria vary from school to school, but with regard to the MCAT score, these top medical schools had a median new MCAT score range of 514-522. That doesn’t mean you couldn’t get into medical school with a lower score since other factors could get you in. See MCAT total and score percentile ranks for 2020.

How soon do you get MCAT results?

According to the AAMC, MCAT official scores are released 30-35 days after the exam date. See the AAMC’s MCAT Scores FAQs.

How many times can you take the MCAT?

The AAMC allows you to take the MCAT up to three times in one year, four times within two years, and seven times in your lifetime.

How much does it cost to take the MCAT?

It costs $315 to register for the MCAT and $370 if you register late (1-2 weeks before your test date). This MCAT registration fee includes the distribution of your MCAT scores to medical schools. Additional fees for canceling or rescheduling the test do apply. The AAMC does offer a Fee Assistance Program for test-takers who absolutely need financial aid to register for the exam.

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