Your dream of becoming a doctor can be accomplished only after you pass the MCAT exam. But what is the MCAT all about? The full form of MCAT is Medical College Admission Test. It is a multiple-choice, computer-based, standardized exam that is a requirement for admission to medical programs in the United States and Canada. The MCAT exam is used to test students on the skills and knowledge that medical professionals have identified as criteria for success in medical school and medicine as a career. Admission to a good medical school depends on your MCAT score, along with your academic record and other supporting materials. Therefore, a high MCAT score will have a direct and positive impact on your med school application. This article gives an overview of the MCAT exam to help you prepare for it.
What Does The MCAT Test Students On?
The MCAT exam tests your knowledge in general chemistry, organic chemistry, general biology, biochemistry, physics, psychology, and sociology, and also your critical analysis and reasoning skills. The MCAT requires more than just an understanding and memorization of the content. You need to be able to apply your knowledge and solve complex problems.
The exam is divided into four sections, each of which is scored from 118 to 132, with the mean and median at 125. This means the MCAT score distribution is from 472 to 528, with the mean and median at 500.
The four sections are:
- Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
- Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
- Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behaviour
- Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
A periodic table is available during the exam, but not a calculator, so remember to take yours with you.
How Long Is The MCAT Exam?
The MCAT exam lasts around seven and a half hours, including time taken for the test and optional breaks, including one lunch break. This time does not include your check-in time at the testing center. It is important to be on-time and fully prepared.
When To Take The MCAT Exam?
The MCAT is administered approximately 25 times a year between January and September. Test results are usually released about a month or so after each test date. It is best to register for your MCAT test date as early as possible so you can have the option of choosing the location, date, and time, as the seats tend to fill quickly.
Take the exam only when you are sure you have prepared well enough for it. Ideally, you should take the exam in the calendar year before the year you plan to enter medical school. Before choosing a test date, you may also want to factor in the time required if you have to retake the exam just in case.
It’s a good idea to take the test right after any preparatory classes you’re attending. For example, if you plan to take a preparatory course in the summer that may help you with the exam, such as a science class, choose a date that falls later in the summer so what you’ve learned is still fresh in your mind.
Also, remember that there is a limited number of attempts you can make, which is three times in one calendar year, four times over two years, and seven times over the course of your lifetime.
Another point to keep in mind before choosing a date is that medical schools will have access to scores from all of your attempts, so it’s essential to take the test only when you are absolutely ready to.
It’s recommended to start planning your test preparation about three to five months before your MCAT test date.
The MCAT is more than just an exam; it’s a ticket to a good medical school. A high MCAT score makes your med school application stand out. Each year, more than 85,000 students sit for the exam, so acing this exam is a huge deal.