What’s the MCAT?

The MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) is a perquisite for admission to nearly all the medical schools in the United States and many schools in Canada. It’s a standardized, multiple choice exam designed to assess your problem solving, critical thinking, and knowledge of natural, behavioral, and social science concepts and principles perquisite to the study of medicine.

The test assesses your knowledge on scientific concepts, problem solving skills, and critical thinking. It aims to examine the skills and knowledge necessary to begin the study and practice of medicine.

It’s recommended that the average student study between 3-6 hours daily for 3 -6 months in order to prepare for the exam.


MCAT Structure

There are four broad topics that the MCAT covers in the multiple choice sections and they include:

  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • Psychological Foundations of Behavior

On average the exam takes a total of 7 hours and 30 minutes, including breaks. Total time taking the actual exams is around 6 hours and 15 minutes.

Click here for more a more in-depth summary of the MCAT test day schedule.


MCAT Scoring System

The MCAT is scored for each of the four sections individually. Each section score receives a scaled score from a low of 118 to a high of 132 with a midpoint of 125. Then, these scores are combined to create a total score that ranges between 472 and 528, with a midpoint of 500.

It’s worth noting that wrong answers are worth the same as unanswered questions so it is recommended to always answer all the questions even if you are unsure of the answer.


When, Where, How?

In most cases, you should take the MCAT exam in the calendar year prior to the year in which you plan to enter medical school. For example, if you intend to apply in 2015 for entrance to medical school in 2016, you should take the exam in 2015.

The MCAT is developed and administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges and is offered several times per year at various test site locations.

Online registration is available through the AAMC website. It’s important to register early to ensure you can obtain your preferred time, location, and testing date. See the current MCAT registration fees here.

According to the AAMC, you may take the exam up to 3 times in a single testing year, 4 times during a two consecutive year period and 7 times in a lifetime.


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