What is the MCAT Exam Pattern and Syllabus for 2022 - 2023?

Updated on: Nov 9, 2022
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The Medical College Admission Test or MCAT is a multiple-choice examination to evaluate the candidate's problem-solving, critical thinking, and knowledge of natural, behavioral, and social science concepts and principles prerequisite to studying medicine.

The MCAT exam is developed and administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Almost every medical school in the U.S. and Canada accepts the MCAT exam scores, but the MCAT exam scores should not be more than three years old.

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In this guide, we will list the MCAT exam pattern and the MCAT syllabus for 2022.

MCAT Exam Pattern

In April 2015, The AAMC launched the present MCAT Exam pattern to reflect the changes in medicine and science and test candidates on what they know and how well they use what they know. It includes the most important skills (as rated by the medical professionals) for pre-meds to know, so they are well-prepared on the first day of medical school.

The MCAT exam pattern consists of 230 multiple choice questions, and the duration of the MCAT Exam is 6 hours 15 minutes; however, the total seated time is 7 hours and 30 minutes due to incorporating breaks and other sundries. The MCAT Exam is divided into 4 sections. These are

  1. Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  2. Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  3. Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
  4. Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

The first three sections are about the foundational concepts in the sciences with questions that combine the candidate's scientific knowledge from multiple disciplines with scientific inquiry and reasoning skills. The fourth section is similar to the verbal reasoning tests that evaluate a candidate's analytical and reasoning skills through passages from various disciplines in the social sciences and humanities.

Section

 

Number of QuestionsDuration
Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems5995 minutes
Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems5995 minutes
Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior5995 minutes
Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills5390 minutes

 

MCAT Syllabus

The MCAT syllabus for 2022 covers various topics that test the candidate's understanding of medicine on a conceptual basis. The test evaluates a candidate's knowledge of science, psychology and sociology along with critical reasoning, analytical skills.

MCAT Syllabus - Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems

The Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems section tests the candidate's knowledge of biological and biochemical concepts with his scientific inquiry and reasoning skills. This section tests the

  • introductory-level biology, inorganic chemistry, and organic chemistry fundamentals.
  • biochemistry concepts at the level taught in the 1st semester of biochemistry courses at most colleges and universities.
  • cellular and molecular biology topics at the level taught in the introductory biology sequences and 1st-semester biochemistry courses at most colleges and universities.
  • basic research methods and statistics concepts, as described by many baccalaureate faculty to be important for success in introductory science courses.
  • candidate's scientific inquiry and reasoning, research methods, and data-based and statistics skills as applied to the natural sciences.

The questions in this section are from introductory biology (65%), first-semester biochemistry (25%), general chemistry (5%), and organic chemistry (5%). The topics in this section are categorized as

  • Protein's structure and functions and their constituent amino acids.
  • Genetic information transmission from the gene to the protein.
  • Heritable information transmission from generation to generation and the processes increasing genetic diversity.
  • Bioenergetics principles and fuel molecule metabolism.
  • Molecules, cells, and groups of cells within single cellular and multicellular organisms.
  • Structure, growth, physiology, and genetics of prokaryotes and viruses.
  • Processes of cell division, differentiation, and specialization.
  • Structure and functions of the nervous and endocrine systems and the ways these systems coordinate the organ systems.
  • Main organ systems structure and integrative functions.

MCAT Syllabus - Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems

The Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems section tests the candidate's knowledge of the mechanical, physical, and biochemical functions of human tissues, organs, and organ systems. This section tests the

  • introductory-level biology, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, and physics concepts.
  • biochemistry concepts at the level taught in the 1st semester of biochemistry courses at most colleges and universities.
  • molecular biology topics at the level taught in the introductory biology sequences and 1st-semester biochemistry courses at most colleges and universities.
  • basic research methods and statistics concepts, as described by many baccalaureate faculty to be important for success in introductory science courses.
  • candidate's scientific inquiry and reasoning, research methods, and data-based and statistics skills as applied to the natural sciences.

The questions in this section are from introductory biology (5%), first-semester biochemistry (25%), introductory physics (25%), general chemistry (30%), and organic chemistry (15%). The topics in this section are categorized as

  • Translational motion, energy, work, forces and equilibrium.
  • Fluid’s importance in the circulation of blood, gas movement, and gas exchange.
  • Electrochemistry, electrical circuits, and their elements.
  • How light and sound interact with matter.
  • Atoms, nuclear decay, electronic structure, and atomic chemical behavior.
  • Water’s unique nature and its solutions.
  • Nature of molecules and intermolecular interactions.
  • Separation and purification methods.
  • Structure, function, and reactivity of biologically relevant molecules.
  • Principles of chemical thermodynamics and kinetics.

HEADING 3

MCAT Syllabus - Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior

The Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior section tests the candidate's understanding of the psychological, social, and biological factors influencing perceptions and reactions to the world. This section tests the

  • psychology, sociology, and biology concepts about the behavioral and sociocultural determinants of health.
  • concepts taught in first-semester psychology and sociology courses at various colleges and universities.
  • biology concepts related to mental processes and behavior taught at many colleges and universities in introductory biology.
  • basic research methods and statistics concepts, as described by many baccalaureate faculty to be important for success in introductory science courses.
  • candidate's scientific inquiry and reasoning, research methods, and data-based and statistics skills as applied to the social and behavioral sciences.

The questions in this section are from introductory psychology (65%), introductory sociology (30%), and introductory biology (5%). The topics in this section are categorized as

  • Sensing the environment
  • Making sense of the environment
  • Responding to the world
  • Individual influences on behavior
  • Social processes that influence human behavior
  • Attitude and behavior change
  • Self-identity
  • Social thinking
  • Social interactions
  • Understanding social structure
  • Demographic characteristics and processes
  • Social inequality

HEADING 3

MCAT Syllabus - Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

The Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section is similar to the verbal reasoning tests that test a candidate's analytical and reasoning skills through passages from various disciplines in the social sciences and humanities. It evaluates the candidate's analysis and reasoning skills to succeed in medical school. This section

  • tests candidate’s comprehension, analysis, and reasoning skills.
  • includes content from ethics, philosophy, cultures, population health, social sciences, and humanities disciplines
  • provides all the information to answer questions in the passages.

The questions in this section are from foundations of comprehension (30%), reasoning within the text (30%), and seasoning beyond the text (40%). The topics in this section are categorized as

  • Understanding the essential text components.
  • Deducing meaning or intent from immediate sentence context.
  • Integrating distant text components to infer an author's message, intent, purpose, belief, position, bias, and assumptions.
  • Recognizing and assessing arguments and their structural elements (claims, evidence, support, relations).
  • Applying or gathering ideas from the passage to new contexts.
  • Evaluating the effect of incorporating new factors, information, or conditions on ideas from the passage.

Summary of the MCAT Syllabus

 

Section

 

Topics
Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • Biology (65%)
  • First-semester biochemistry (25%)
  • General chemistry (5%)
  • Organic chemistry (5%).
Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • Introductory biology (5%)
  • First-semester biochemistry (25%)
  • Introductory physics (25%)
  • General chemistry (30%)
  • Organic chemistry (15%).
Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
  • Psychology (65%)
  • Introductory sociology (30%)
  • Introductory biology (5%)
Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
  • Foundations of comprehension (30%)
  • Reasoning within the text (30%)
  • Seasoning beyond the text (40%).

 

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the duration of the MCAT exam?

The duration of the MCAT exam is 6 hours 15 minutes; however, the total seated time is 7 hours and 30 minutes due to incorporating breaks and other sundries.

How many total sections are there in the MCAT exam?

The MCAT exam is divided into 4 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.

How many questions are there in the MCAT exam?

The MCAT exam pattern consists of 230 multiple choice questions, 59 questions each in the first three sections and 53 questions in the fourth section.

From which topics are the questions in the Biological and biochemical foundations of living systems section?

The questions in the Biological and biochemical foundations of living systems section are from introductory biology (65%), first-semester biochemistry (25%), general chemistry (5%), and organic chemistry (5%).

From which topics are the questions in the chemical and physical foundations of biological systems section?

The questions in the chemical and physical foundations of biological systems section are from introductory biology (5%), first-semester biochemistry (25%), introductory physics (25%), general chemistry (30%), and organic chemistry (15%).

From which topics are the questions in the Psychological, social, and biological foundations of behavior section?

The questions in the Psychological, social, and biological foundations of behavior section are from introductory psychology (65%), introductory sociology (30%), and introductory biology (5%).

From which topics are the questions in the Critical analysis and reasoning skills section?

The questions in the Critical analysis and reasoning skills section are from foundations of comprehension (30%), reasoning within the text (30%), and seasoning beyond the text (40%).

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