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What Is MCAT And When To Take The MCAT?


What Is MCAT And When To Take The MCAT?

Know all you need to know about the AAMC MCAT(Medical College Admission Test).

Get information on what MCAT is, when to take the MCAT, scores, cost, and answers to your questions as regarding the subject.

You will find answers to the following FAQs about the Medical College Admission Test:

  • When should I take my MCAT for med school?
  • What is the best time to take the MCAT?
  • What does the MCAT test you on?
  • How do I study for the MCAT?
  • What year of undergrad should I take the MCAT?
  • What is the best way to prepare for the MCAT?
  • How much does it cost to take the MCAT?
  • What is a good score on the MCAT?

What Is MCAT?

The MCAT, developed and administered by the AAMC, is a multiple-choice standardized test designed to help medical school admissions offices assess students’ problem solving, critical thinking and problem resolution.

Also, it helps them assess the student’s knowledge of natural, behavioral and social science concepts and scientific principles prior to the study of medicine.

It serves as a predictor of your success to the admission officers.

The MCAT is mandatory for admission to most medical schools.

However, it is computerized and evaluates the physical and biological sciences, verbal reasoning and writing skills.

In April 2015, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) released a new version of the MCAT exam.

With the last revision in 1991, recent updates reflect developments in medicine and science and also evaluate candidates about what they know but also how much they use what they know.


There are four sections for reporting the scores:

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

Almost all American medical schools and many Canadian schools require you to present the results of the MCAT exam.

Many schools do not accept MCAT exams which are older than 3 years.

Pre-requisites Needed For the MCAT Exam

The MCAT content is covered by introductory courses in most colleges and universities, including introductory biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, and first-semester psychology, sociology, and biochemistry.

The research methods and the statistical concepts of the exam are used in the introductory science laboratories, as well as in introductory courses in psychology and sociology.

We encourage you to contact your institution’s pre-health counselor, who can help you determine the specific courses you will need to achieve your training objectives.


When Should I take the MCAT Test?

The best time to take the Medical College Admission Test test is one in which you feel better prepared and ready.

There is no one solution for everyone. But when you make this decision, you can ask yourself three questions:


1. When do I want to go to medical school?

Often, students choose to take the MCAT exam in the same year they apply to medical school.

For example, if you plan to attend a medical school in the fall of 2020, you may consider taking the test in 2019.

2. Is there a potential that I will have to try more than once?

Many candidates try more than once.

If you think you will be able to take the test again and want to leave this option for you, you may want to consider taking the exam first in one year of exam.

This will give you the opportunity to receive your grades, decide if you want to retest and find another seat on the date and place of your choice later in the year.

3. Do I control the content tested during the test?

The MCAT exam evaluates the content of introductory courses in most undergraduate institutions, including biology, chemistry and general and organic physics, as well as biochemistry, psychology, and sociology in the first semester.

Although there are no specific courses to follow to register and take the exam, it is important to be comfortable with the content and skills evaluated.

If you think additional courses or studies are needed to help you prepare, consider taking tests later in the year to save time.

Consult your pre-health advisor or a faculty member to help you choose a course since courses vary from one institution to another.

Also, remember that medical schools will be able to see all your results and that there is now a limit on the number of times you can take the test.

See MCAT Essentials for more information on the publication of scores and lifetime limits.

If you need help deciding when to take the test, ask your pre-health counselor.

The most important thing is to take the test when you are ready, not when you think you should be.

Eligibility For the MCAT Exam

You are eligible to take the Medical College Admission Test exam if you are planning to apply to a health professions school, which includes:

  • M.D.-granting programs
  • D.O.-granting programs
  • Podiatric (D.P.M)
  • Veterinary medicine (D.V.M)
  • Any other health-related program that will accept MCAT exam results to satisfy a test score admissions requirement

Also, there is no additional eligibility requirement for international students.

However, you must be in or hold an MBBS degree program to register for the exam without seeking special permission.

For more information, please read How Do I Apply as an International Applicant?


Preparing For MCAT

Preparing for the exam takes time and dedication.

And balancing your preparation with an already busy schedule is a challenge.

AAMC has resources and practical products to help you no matter where you are in this process.

These resources are discussed below:

What’s on the MCAT Exam?

The MCAT is a 7.5-hour exam that includes four sections: Biological and biochemical foundations of living systems; Chemical and physical foundations of biological systems; Psychological, social and biological foundation of behavior. and critical analysis and reasoning skills.

Click on any of the four sections to know more about them.

Overview of the MCAT Sections

Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • 59 multiple-choice questions
  • 95-minute section
  • Tests basic biology, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, and biochemistry
Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • 59 multiple-choice questions
  • 95-minute section
  • Tests basic biochemistry, biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics
Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
  • 59 multiple-choice questions
  • 95-minute section
  • Tests introductory psychology, sociology, and biology
Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
  • 53 multiple-choice questions
  • 90-minute section
  • Similar to reading comprehension sections on other standardized tests
  • Passages come from a variety of humanities and social sciences disciplines

Create A Study Plan

How to start preparing the MCAT exam? Creating a study plan is an excellent way to organize and stay focused.

Download this guide in six steps to create your own plan provided by AAMC HERE.

Free Planning and Study Resources

Learn about the free AAMC MCAT official preparation resources the AAMC provides to help you study for test day by clicking on the link below:


Practice for the MCAT Exam with Official Low-Cost Products

Learning through practice is key when it comes to the MCAT exam.

Prepare for the exam with AAMC MCAT official test preparation products written by the test developers.

Click on the link below to know more about Official MCAT Bundles, AAMC Full-Length Practice Exams, Question Sets, Print Products:

How Do I Register For MCAT Exams

The MCAT exam is offered multiple times in 2019 from January and March through September at hundreds of test sites in the United States, Canada, and around the world.

To register, please log into the MCAT Registration System.

2019 Calendars, Scheduling Deadlines, and Score Release Dates

Click on any section below to know more on the US, Canadian, and International calendars, scheduling deadlines, and score release dates for the 2019 testing year.

MCAT Scheduling Fee

Click on the link below for more information on the MCAT scheduling fee for the test year 2019:

Taking the MCAT Exam in Puerto Rico

Are you a Puerto Rico applicant? There is important information for examinees testing in your country.
Visit the link below:

MCAT Test Day

To be as safe and prepared as possible for your MCAT exam, you need to know what to expect and what is expected of you at the testing center.

Test Day Rules

The AAMC is committed to ensuring the accuracy and validity of test results, as well as providing candidates with fair and safe test conditions.

To do this, the staff of each test center strictly follows a set of common procedures.

For a complete list of strategies, see MCAT Essentials.

When you register for the MCAT exam and in an abridged form on test day, you will certify to have read the MCAT Examinee Agreement.

Reading, understanding, and honoring this document is important for all candidates, not only to prepare for the exam, but also for future doctors.

Learn more about the meaning of this document.

Know what you can and can not discuss after your Medical College Admission Test exam.

Get more information about the policies and procedures that each candidate must follow on the day of the test.

The following items are the only items allowed in the testing room during the Medical College Admission Test exam:

  1. Photo Identification
  2. Center-provided noteboard and marker
  3. Center-provided storage key
  4. Center provided foam, wireless earplugs

During the Medical College Admission Test exam, you will have two 10-minute breaks and a 30-minute break in the middle of the exam.

During these times, know what can be accessed or not.

The Day of the Test

When you arrive at the testing center, you must register with the test administrator.

You will be asked to sign in, present valid identification, digitally scan your palms and take a photograph of the day of the test. Learn more HERE.

MCAT Scores

Release of official scores happens 30-35 days after any exam date.

To view your scores, click the “Get MCAT Test Scores” button on the official page.

How is the Medical College Admission Test scored?

Each section of the exam is scored in a range of 118 to 132, with an average score of 125.

You will receive a grade for each section, plus a general grade.

The total scores will be centered on 500, with ranges from 472 to 528.

What is a good score on the Medical College Admission Test?

The MCAT is a scaled test, which means that your gross score (depending on the number of questions you have had) becomes a scaled score taking into account the difficulty of the questions.

MCAT Percentiles 2019–2020

Each year, on May 1, the percentile ranges are updated using data from the last three years.

These annual updates will ensure that the percentile classifications reflect current and stable information about your student’s grades.

This means that changes in the percentile range from one year to the next reflect significant changes in the candidates’ scores, rather than fluctuations from one year to the next.

Updating the percentile ranges is consistent with industry practices.

You will get a percentile rank with your MCAT score to help you compare your performance with that of others who have taken the test.

Did you get a percentile rank of 50? You scored 50% or more of the other test participants! The higher your MCAT percentile, the better.

CHECK OUT the latest MCAT percentile ranks released by AAMC HERE


Download the Current Percentile Ranks for the MCAT Exam

How much does the MCAT cost?

Taking the MCAT costs $315 (and $370 for a late registration one or two weeks before the date of your exam).

The initial enrollment fee in the MCAT includes the distribution of its results to MCAT in medical schools.

Please note that the cancellation or postponement of the test is subject to additional charges.

The AAMC offers a Fee Assistance Program for candidates who, without financial assistance, could not approve the MCAT.


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