Medical School Application - Taking the MCAT

Medical School Application

MCAT (Medical School Admissions Test)

In preparation for applying to medical school, you will be required to register, take the MCAT, and submit results as part of the medical school application. Tips to be aware of:

  • Registration for the MCAT is $240. AAMC Fee Assistance Program (FAP) if you demonstrate financial challenges in paying for your application.
  • You may register for the MCATs online via AAMC. The exam is offered about 20 times in the year (September is the latest the MCAT is offered).
  • Do not take the exam later than June of the year that you are applying. Ideally, take the exam by April/May.
  • There are certain physics, biology, and chemistry classes you should plan to take before taking the MCAT. See an advisor at the Pre-Professional Health Committee for more information.
  • AAMC has more information about the MCAT, including how to prepare, practice tests, and tips for you during the day of the exam.

MCAT Preparation Strageties:

Focused study groups
Study with friends or other classmates who are also planning to take the MCAT. Also, check-in with on-campus clubs or organizations geared toward the health field (see Resources) to find others who are planning to take the exam.

Look For Tutors
Hire a personal tutor or take a MCAT preparation program (such as through Kaplan or Princeton). Ask questions around the average scores of past clients, as well as services and products that may be included, and whether individual tutoring is available. In addition, check out the MCAT study guide by AAMC or purchase/review MCAT guidebooks such as Petersons or Kaplan.

Independent study
Purchase guidebooks and develop a strict strategy to study independently. If you choose to study on your own, allow yourself plenty of time! As a suggestion, plan to study for one hour a day, every day, and do a practice exam every other Saturday.

MCAT Content and Format

The MCAT is broken up into 4 sections:

Test Section Questions Time
Tutorial (Optional)   10 minutes
Examinee Agreement   10 minutes
Section 1: Physical Sciences - Tests knowledge of basic concepts and physically related chemistry. 52 70 minutes
Break (Optional)   10 minutes
Section 2: Verbal Reasoning - Includes prose passages from the humanities, social and natural sciences. 40 60 minutes
Break (Optional)   10 minutes
Section 3: Writing Sample - Contains two essay questions. 2 60 minutes
Break (Optional)   10 minutes
Section 4: Biological Sciences - Tests knowledge of the basic concepts with problem solving in biology and biologically related chemistry. 52 70 minutes
Void question (allows you to void the exam)   5 minutes
Survey   10 minutes
Total Content Time   4 hours, 25 minutes
Total "Seat Time"   5 hours, 25 minutes

Each section on the MCAT receives a maximum of 15 points -- the three sections are Verbal Reasoning, Physical Sciences and Biological Sciences.

Retaking the MCAT

Retaking the MCAT multiple times is not usually a recommended strategy since most individuals who do this do notdramatically improve scores or may even receive lower scores over time. 35 is considered a good score, but 30 is still sensible enough to use in applying for medical school. Also, typically your writing score is not as important unless your verbal scores are low.