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A complete guide on MCAT

Ekta
Ekta
Last updated: Mar 23, 20227 min read
A complete guide on MCAT

The MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) is necessary to enter all medical schools in the USA. Read about the other exams you need to take to study in the USA!

The MCAT is a computer-based test that examines the abilities and knowledge identifiable in medical school and medical practice as critical requirements, such as medical knowledge, verbal reasoning and writing skills. 
The AAMC - American Medical Colleges Association manages and operates the MCAT several times a year in hundreds of test venues in the U.S. and chosen places worldwide. 
The MCAT is more than simply a formality for admittance to a medical school. A high MCAT score will directly and positively affect your application for medical school.

That's enough to get started with!  
Below, we will take you through everything you need to know about and prepare for the MCAT exam. 

Table of Contents

What is MCAT – an Overview

MCAT Full formMedical College Admission Test
Duration7 hours, 30 minutes
Conducting bodyAssociation of American Medical colleges (AAMC)
Mode of the examComputer-based
Sections4

MCAT exam eligibility

  1. A student is eligible for MCAT if intended to attend an allopathic, osteopathic, podiatric and veterinary training school. 
  2. Specific permission is not necessary to appear for the test if completed or pursued an MBBS programme.

However, if the above two situations do not apply, a "special authorisation" from AAMC is needed before registering for the exam. 

Note - U.S. and Canadian students must have a U.G. certificate for the examination.

MCAT exam syllabus

The MCAT program includes First-Semester undergraduate courses in sections conducted by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). 

The MCAT syllabus contains four principal test components, which are: 

  1. Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems

You are asked to solve the questions by integrating your understanding of biological and biochemical ideas with scientific research and reasoning skills in the Biological and Biochemical Foundations.

This section examines processes that are unique to organisms, such as,

  • The cultivation and reproduction
  • Preservation of a constant internal environment
  • The collection of materials and energy
  • Sensation and response to environmental changes 
  • And adaptation

It also tests the independent and concerted functions of cells and organ systems within an organism. It calls upon you to discuss these processes at various levels of biological organisation inside a living system.


2. Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems

You are asked to tackle the challenges of chemical and physical foundations of biological systems by integrating your knowledge of chemical and physical fundamental ideas with your scientific research and thinking. 

This section examines your understanding of 

  • Human tissue
  • Organ and organ systems
  • Physical and biochemical functioning

It also evaluates your knowledge of the underlying chemical and physical principles behind the mechanics of the human organs and your ability to reason about these basic chemical and biological concepts and apply them to living systems.


3. Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behaviour

The Behaviour's Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations section will ask you to resolve difficulties by integrating your basic notions and scientific research and reasoning.

  • This section will discover how psychological, social, and biological elements influence perceptions and reactions to the world.
  • Changes in behaviour
  • What people think about themselves and others
  • Cultural and social differences that have a bearing on the well-being
  • And the relation between social stratification, resource access and welfare.

4. Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

The MCAT exam's portion on critical analysis and reasoning will be similar to many of the verbal assessments that have been conducted in our educational experiences with reasoning skills.

MCAT exam pattern

MCAT lasts 6 hours 15 minutes, whereas the total time spent sitting is 7 hours 30 minutes, including breaks. In total, 472 to 528 marks fall under all four components of the MCAT exam.

The sections of the test are detailed below: 
 

SectionsNo. of MCQ'sDuration in Minutes
Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems.5995
Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems.5995
Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behaviour.5995
Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills.5390

MCAT preparation tips

We've got your MCAT preparation covered already! Check out our handy articles right here: 

9 tips to prepare and conquer the MCAT exam

6 MCAT prep books that will guarantee you ace the test

When should you take the MCAT?

There are approximately 25 MCAT test dates to pick from between January and September.

Consider that you will require 3-5 months to study, and your MCAT results will be ready for the start of medical school applications in June.

MCAT registration

  1. Create a New account on the AAMC and fill in the first, middle, last name, e-mail, and general data.
  2. Complete personal data, including birth and location, and enter the full address.
  3. The account will be created and save your credentials at the time of registration.
  4. After submitting the MCAT online registration form, applicants receive an e-mail with the appointment details. 
  5. Candidates should register 60 days before the examination to verify that the exam is available.
  6. At the time of registration, applicants must have VISA or MasterCard because the system can only accept these cards.
  7. You have to complete a few procedures to register once you have selected an MCAT test date.
  8. Click "Start Exam Registration" once you have registered to the AAMC profile.
  9. Biographical information, including your address, will be requested from you.
  10.  Please ensure that your personal information is filled out as it appears on your Government ID when the test is performed.
  11. Once all of the relevant forms are completed, click on "Start an MCAT Exam."
  12. Choose the day and location of your test. 
  13. You can click "Checkout" to pay your registration once you have selected your location and appointment time.

For those who cannot take the MCAT without financial aid, the AAMC offers a fee assistance programme.

MCAT exam fees

MCAT costs $310 if you register in the typical timeframe (about one month or more before the test date); however, the cost increases if you register late. So get on it early! 

There are additional charges for changes of location or date and an international charge for testing sites outside the U.S. An Indian candidate must therefore shell out US$400 to take the MCAT in the best-case scenario. 

At the current currency rate of Indian Rupees, the MCAT cost is INR 25,750.

  • Structure and planning zone of MCAT fee

The deadlines for registration are separated into three areas – gold, silver and bronze. 

These areas are as detailed as follows -

  1. Gold Zone
  • Date and location flexibility.
  • Lowest cost reprogram.
  • Can be reimbursed partially upon cancellation.

       2. Silver Zone 

  • No registration fee increment.
  • Can rearrange the examination.
  • Can cancel the booking but no refund.

      3. Bronze Zone

Can cancel the booking but no refund.

MCAT results and scores

Every MCAT section is evaluated in 118–132 scales. 

The overall score of your MCAT ranges from 472–528. This will be the sum of your section scores.

Official results are made available 30 to 35 days following the date of the examination. 

Check out our article The MCAT score you need to get into medical school to find out what you should aim for!

When and how can you retake the MCAT test?

The MCAT offers examiners the option of taking the examination more than once, subject to certain policies and regulations. 

The MCAT examination is administered three times a calendar year and is taken four times throughout two calendar years. An examinee cannot take the examination more than seven times in life.  

FAQs:

  • What are the prerequisites I need to satisfy before taking the MCAT exam?

In accordance with the AAMC, just the introductory knowledge about physics, biology, organic and inorganic chemistry, biochemistry, psychology and sociology information would be the essential prerequisites for MCAT.

  • What is an optional break?

Two 10-minute breaks and a 30-minute mid-exam break will happen during the MCAT exam.  
The 10-minute breaks are the optional ones. 

  • When should I take the MCAT Exam?

While you can technically take the MCAT at any time, you should take it at the earliest in summer and at the latest in April, after sophomore year. 

  • What is the frequency of the MCAT Exam?

The MCATs are offered during January, March, April, May, June, July and August. 
Every month there are several test dates.

  • What is the duration of the MCAT Exam?

The current examination takes 6 hours, 15 minutes. 
Management procedures and breaks take approximately 7.5 hours of overall test- day time. Two start times for each test date are at 7:30 AM and the other at 3 PM.

  • Does it count as an attempt if I do not appear for the MCAT after applying for it?

Yes, the MCAT exam's attempt is counted as one of your attempts even if you do not appear for the exam after applying.

  • How is the MCAT exam scored?

Each of the four MCAT sections is worth 132 raw points, with a section score of 118 being the lowest. 
In each segment, the number of correct questions is translated to a scaled score. The sum of all four sections together becomes your MCAT score.

  • How long does it take to receive MCAT scores?

30 to 35 days after the date of an examination, official scores are released.

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Ekta

Ekta is a Content Manager at Edvoy

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