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Almost all medical schools in the USA and Canada need their students to have submitted MCAT scores in their applications. Having a low score can often result in a rejection. But how does MCAT eligibility work, particularly for international students?
Here’s everything you need to know:
MCAT eligibility explained
The basic level of eligibility for the MCAT is that you must be applying to attend a medical school. This can include:
- M.D.-granting programs (Doctor of Medicine)
- D.O.-granting programs (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine)
- D.P.M-granting programs (Doctor of Podiatric Medicine)
- D.V.M-granting programs (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine)
But it also includes any other health-related program that says you need MCAT results as part of an admission requirement. If you’re not planning to apply to a medical school or are already enrolled, you need to request special permission to register for the exam.
For international students the only extra MCAT eligibility requirement is that you must hold or be studying towards a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS). The exam can be taken in numerous locations around the world but is always in English, so your language skills need to be good enough to take the test.
There are no required courses or qualifications that you need to study an MCAT. Introductory courses in biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, and first-semester psychology, sociology, and biochemistry would be useful preparation.
One eligibility criteria that could affect you is the limit on the number of times you can take the MCAT. It can be taken up to three times in a year or four times in two (consecutive) years and up to seven times in total. If you void your exam or don’t show up, this counts towards your total.
Eligibility for accommodations
You can apply for accommodations if you have a disability or medical condition that requires an adjustment to the standard conditions.
This could relate to:
- Acquired brain injury
- Learning disability
- Physical disability
- Psychiatric disability
- Sensory disability
You need to supply documentation - like a description of what you would have difficulty doing under standard conditions. You'll also need a history of accommodations you have received in similar situations in the past. If you don’t have evidence of previous accommodations, you’d need to explain why.
You would also need supporting academic and medical documentation.
How to register for the MCAT
Once you’re satisfied that you meet the MCAT eligibility criteria, you can register to take it. The steps to register include:
- Visiting the official website and creating an account with the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).
- Click on Start Exam Registration to make an appointment. The personal information you will need to provide is:
- Personal details
- Academic background
- View the exam schedule and select your test centre.
- Pay the application fee. This is $325 for standard registration as well as a $120 international fee. This is around INR 35,500.
The MCAT is not available to take in person in India, but can be taken in the following countries:
- South Africa
- United Kingdom
- United States of America
Eligibility for financial assistance for MCAT
The AAMC offers a Fee Assistance Program to help people with extreme financial limitations who couldn't afford to take the exam. This is only open to people with a USA-based address however, so the following is required as proof:
- Applicant’s full name
- Current permanent US address
- Active and current ID
- Documentation issued with the last 60 days
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can you take the MCAT exam online?
The MCAT exam can only be taken in-person at locations around the world - this does not include India. You can schedule your test at the centre of your choice while registering. If it is not available, you can request email notification of any cancellations at a later point.