Last Updated: March 25, 2021
Medical College Admission Test - MCAT
The MCAT or the Medical College Admission Test is a multiple-choice, standardized examination, which has been designed for assessing the examinee's critical thinking, problem-solving, and knowledge about concepts of science and related principles and writing skills, which are all a prerequisite for medicine study. Scores in this test are reported for Verbal Reasoning, Physical Science, Biological Sciences, and the Writing Sample section.
MCAT is administered by AAMC to provide students with an equal ground based on which they can be selected by medical schools. Almost all the medical schools in the U.S. need applicants to submit their scores on the MCAT exam. A lot of schools don't accept MCAT scores that are 3 years old or more.
Eligibility for Registration
Students who are in pre-medical schools are the ones who usually take the exam. But, one can appear for the MCAT examination if they're planning for applying to a health professions institution/school. These schools should include departments from the fields mentioned below-
- Veterinary Medicine
When registering, one would be asked to consent to a statement which states that the only intention of the student in registering for the MCAT exam is to apply to a health professions school. However, if candidates are not really applying to any health professional’s institution/school, they should procure ‘special permission’ to register for the exam. International students have different requirements to be eligible for MCAT.
Eligibility for International Students
An International student can take the exam provided they meet the requirements mentioned above. If the student has a degree in MBBS or is pursuing the program, they can register for the exam without taking any special permission.
When is MCAT held?
The MCAT exam is held in the months of January, March, May, June, July, August, and September. The test will be conducted multiple times each month and the scheduling deadlines along with test dates vary from month to month. The upcoming MCAT test dates can be accessed here
MCAT Test Structure
The exam consists of four sections in all which deal with the fields of General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, General Biology, Biochemistry, Physics, Psychology, and Sociology along with basic skills for critically analyzing text and reasoning skills. These fields are not asked independently in the exam but often overlap each other in the questions mimicking the syllabus medical schools offer.
All the questions are multiple-choice questions and have no negative marking.
MCAT has the following four sections:
- Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems- This section deals with topics relating to Biology (65%) and Biochemistry (25%) along with Organic Chemistry (5%) and General Chemistry (5%) which are part of the syllabus in undergraduate courses. There are a total of 44 passage-related questions and 15 non-passage-related questions in all which amounts to 59 overall questions in this section.
- Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems- This section contains questions relating to basic physical sciences and biological sciences. It contains questions from fields like General Chemistry (30%), Biochemistry (25%), Biology (5%), Organic Chemistry (15%), and Physics (25%). This section also has 44 passage-related questions and 15 non-passage-related questions making a total of 59 questions in all.
- Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior- This section contains questions from Psychology and Sociology, linking both to biological sciences. It focuses on implementing research and statistical principles in behavior-related and sociocultural determinants of health along with their outcomes. There are 44 passage-related questions and 15 non-passage-related questions in the section making a total of 59 questions in all.
- Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills- This section is referred to as CARS and doesn’t focus on any particular syllabus and has passage-related questions only based on which students will be required to attempt the answers.
Test Scoring for MCAT
The test scores for each section are converted to a scaled score ranging from 118 to 132 where these scores are the lowest and highest scores attainable respectively. The midpoint of the score is considered to be 125 and candidates will receive both sectional scores and an overall score. The total score ranges from 472 to 528 with a midpoint of 500.
It takes around a month to receive scores.
Test Duration of MCAT
The MCAT exam is conducted within a time frame of 7 hours and 33 minutes including the breaks. The content time provided for the exam is 6 hours and 15 minutes in all. The time is split into different sections based on the function the student has to perform in the section. The exam starts with an examinee agreement made as soon as the candidates enter the test center which takes a total of 8 minutes. This is followed by a tutorial for first-time examinees which is optional and can take a maximum of 10 minutes. After this, the student moves on to the different sections of the MCAT.
The breaks provided for the exam are optional. Students can opt to move on to the next section. But it has to be noted that the time of the break will NOT be carried on to the next section.
|Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems||95 minutes|
|Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills||90 minutes|
|Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems||95 minutes|
After the main sections of the exam are over, there will be extra time if the student has completed the exam before the schedule. This can happen when students have opted to not take the breaks. There will be a satisfaction survey that is optional which takes a total of 5 minutes.
Test Centers for MCAT
The test centers for giving the MCAT exam are located almost across all the states in the U.S. as well as in Canada and some countries around the globe. To know more about the test centers in your state or a particular state, candidates have to sign in to the MCAT Registration System.
Test Fee for MCAT
The fee for MCAT has been divided into three zones whereby students can avail themselves of different benefits according to the time they apply and the amount they pay. The three zones are gold, silver, and bronze and the benefits they provide are as follows-
- Students can be part of the gold zone and avail more benefits if they apply before a registration period of 29 days before the test date. Applying early makes the student avail the following benefits and also provides them with ample time to prepare for the exam.
- Provides the student with ample flexibility of date and location
- Students will be able to reschedule the exam at a lower cost.
- Student will receive a partial refund upon canceling the reservation.
- The rates for rescheduling and canceling will be relatively low if the student is a Fee Assistant Program recipient.
- Students will be considered part of this zone if they apply 15 days before the test date. The benefits reduce when one applies closer to the test date through the silver zone nearly provides the same benefits as the gold zone.
- Students will not have to pay an increased amount while registering.
- Will be able to reschedule the exam for the given fee.
- Students will be able to cancel the test though they will not receive a refund.
- Students will be considered to be part of this zone if they apply for the test with only 8 days to the test date. The registration fee will be higher for students applying at such short notice and there will be no provision of rescheduling the test date.
- Students will be able to cancel the reservation but will not receive a refund.
The Regular Registration fee for the MCAT test is approximately $320. The fee can be paid through American Express, VISA, and Mastercard only.
The fee structure is as follows-
|Purpose ||Gold Zone||Silver Zone||Bronze Zone|
|Date/Test Center Rescheduling||$95||$160||-|
The fee above isn't refundable in case of registration cancellation and this fee is also added up to the so-called 'Regular Registration' fee. International sites for MCAT include all the countries, territories, or provinces except Guam, Canada, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.
Candidates often choose to retake the MCAT due to the importance of the score report in the admission process. At the same time, students are generally careful in their preparations to ace the test in the first attempt due to the expense of registration.
Students can only take the test a total of 7 times in their lifetime. One might take up this MCAT examination 3 times in 1 calendar year. In a span of 2 consecutive years, students can only attempt the test a total of 4 times. However, they can register for just 1 test at any given point in time.