FAQs and Facts About the MCAT

The MCAT is one of the most fearsome acronyms for medical students, which is saying something for a field with a lot of them! Before students start seriously considering medical school, they need to understand what the MCAT is and what effect it has on a medical education and career. We have the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions below.

What’s the MCAT?

The Medical College Admission Test® (also known as the MCAT®) is a required exam for admission to most medical schools. The standardized multiple-choice test is designed to assess “problem solving, critical thinking and knowledge of natural, behavioral and social science concepts and principles prerequisite to the study of medicine.” Think of it as an intense, specialized version of the SAT/ACT for the medical community.

When do I take the MCAT?

Many students take the MCAT exam in the same year they apply to medical school. When you do take the test, you’ll want to choose a time in your academic career where you feel confident and have as much time as you need to study. You’ll also want to be sure to have your prerequisite courses all set.

Not sure what your schedule looks like for the next year? Good news: the MCAT has 30 test dates throughout the year for you to choose from their calendar. There are some limitations of how many times you can take it, specifically:

  • In a single test year, it can be taken up to three times.
  • In two years, it can be taken up to four times.
  • In a lifetime, it can be taken up to seven times.

Also, note that the test is not free and that there are fees for taking the MCAT. Use this page to figure out what you’ll have to pay to register to take the test.

What’s it like to take the MCAT?

Forget about just taking a couple hours, this test is an all day affair. It’s been said that it’s a “marathon, not a sprint.” The test is a 7.5 hour computer-based exam with four sections:

  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS)
  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior

The test isn’t just long, it’s been described as being “an extreme emotional and physical relief” when test takers completed the test. Get organized, get prepared and get motivated to do the absolute best you can do for this crucial test!

Did I do well on the MCAT?

Once you’re done with the test, you’ll be eager to get your scores back. Use this calendar to see how soon you can see how well you’ve done. The average score for the test is 500.5 points, with the highest possible points a student can score being 528 points. The final count is based on the total of the four section scores and the highest score per section is 132 points per section. Interested in how scores are calculated? This page from Kaplan breaks it down.

Have more questions about taking the MCAT? Be sure to follow them on Twitter at @AAMC_MCAT for more information regarding the test.

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