Everything You Need to Know about the MCAT

The Medical College Admission Test, colloquially known as the MCAT, is a graduate-level entrance exam required for admission to medical school. Students typically take the MCAT at least one year before submitting their med school applications, giving them plenty of time to retake the exam if they’re not satisfied with their initial scores. That being said, the test is expensive and time consuming—if you can get away with taking it only once, you’ll probably be happier overall.

MCAT: A test required for medical students. Medical College Admission Test. Four sections: Biological and biochemical foundations of living systems; chemical and physical foundations of biological systems; psychological, social, and biological foundations of behavior; and critical analysis and reasoning skills. It is a computer-based test that takes 7.5 hours, costs $315-270, and is offered 20 times a year. Getting started: Registration, create your account at aamc.org; dates and deadlines, check the MCAT calendar for test dates and deadlines. Scheduling fees: 15 days prior to the exam = $315; 8 days prior to the exam = $370; other fees - check the MCAT scheduling fees for cancellation refund, rescheduling, and international fees. Scores: release dates - your scores will be released approximately one month after you take the exam; sections are graded between 118 and 132, overall scores range from 472 to 528, and average scores hover around 500. Other things to know: the test is a multiple-choice examination; many schools do not accept MCAT exam scores that are more than three years old; you can take the MCAT up to three times during a single year; you can take the MCAT a maximum of four times in a two-year period; you cannot be registered for more than one exam at a time; you can take the MCAT no more than seven times total.

Text and design by: Anna Palmer

You’re not going to do as well as you could on the MCAT if you don’t study, so plan to spend a significant amount of time brushing up on the subjects you’ll be tested on. Whether you choose to study on your own using online resources or a study guide from the bookstore, enroll in a preparation class, hire a private tutor, or use a combination of study methods, plan to put in 200–300 hours of studying. Register for an exam sitting far enough in advance that you’ll have time to learn the material.

Good luck!

About Anna Palmer

Anna grew up loving everything that involved art and creativity. She received a scholarship to attend Memphis College of Art where she studied graphic design. Graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Anna worked as a graphic designer until she decided to expand her skill set by studying advertising and marketing. She thought knowing how consumers think would help maximize her design skills. She then attended Portland State University where she earned her second degree, a BS in advertising management.

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