What is the MCAT?
The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a standardized, multiple-choice, computer-based examination designed to assess the examinee's problem solving, critical thinking, writing skills, and knowledge of science concepts and principles prerequisite to the study of medicine.
How important is the MCAT in the admissions process?
It varies. In the US, your MCAT score is typically given as much weight as your GPA. And if there is a large discrepancy between your MCAT score and GPA, the tendency is to give your MCAT score more weight. In Canada, the MCAT is not quite as important – although you still need stellar MCAT scores to be admitted to med school. Some schools – such as McMaster and Ottawa – do not require applicants to write the MCAT. Most schools, however, have “cut-offs” – minimum acceptable scores – used to screen out applicants.
In addition to your MCAT score, admission committees will consider some combination of:
• undergraduate/graduate GPA
• scope and difficulty of undergraduate coursework
• letters of evaluation
• involvement in extracurricular activities
• involvement in health-related work and research
• participation in other activities demonstrating commendable character
• medical school interview results
• legal residence.
Am I eligible to take the MCAT exam?
You may sit for the MCAT exam if you are preparing to apply to a health professions school. These include the following types of schools: allopathic, osteopathic, podiatric, and veterinary medicine.
How much does the MCAT cost?
Regular MCAT Registration costs $270. Testing at an international site is an extra $85.
What accommodations are there for disabled test takers?
If you have a disability or medical condition that you believe requires an adjustment to the standard testing conditions, we encourage you to apply for accommodated testing. A decision regarding most requests will be made within 60 days of receipt of all documentation.
What Steps Do You Take?
Step 1: Determine if you need accommodations. You need to apply for accommodations if you have a condition or disability that warrants a modification to the standard testing conditions. For example, presentation of testing materials in large print, extra testing time, a separate testing room, or an authorization to bring in an inhaler, water, or hard candy all constitute accommodated testing.
Step 2: Register for an AAMC ID. In order to apply for accommodations for the MCAT exam you must first obtain an AAMC ID number. This number is an 8-digit identifier assigned automatically to your personal information. The number will be used to uniquely identify your accommodations application. You will need this ID, and the username and password you create throughout your relationship with the AAMC, including when you register for the MCAT exam, apply to medical school, and apply for a residency etc.
Step 3: Register for the MCAT Exam. We recommend that you register for a "standard" testing seat prior to requesting accommodated testing. This increases your likelihood of obtaining the date and test site you prefer in the event your request for accommodations is not approved and you wish to test under standard conditions.
Step 4: Determine which application time frame and type corresponds with your request.
Step 5: Read the Application Requirements appropriate to your disability or disabilities. Obtain the appropriate documentation from your evaluator. Note: Applicants with chronic medical conditions (for example, diabetes, migraines, or asthma) or temporarily disabling conditions (such as a broken leg or recovery from an accident) should select Documenting Physical Disabilities. If you need to update your evaluation but have limited funds, you may be eligible for financial assistance towards re-evaluation.
Step 6: No later than 60 days prior to the regular registration deadline for the exam you wish to take, submit the following documentation to the Office of Accommodated Testing Services:
• Your own written request in the form of a cover letter
• Your completed Accommodations Request Form • The documentation received from your evaluator
• Evidence of previous accommodations (e.g., IEPs, transcripts, letter from a college’s Office of Disability Services, verification of accommodations from previous standardized exams such as the SAT or ACT)
Step 7: Wait for a decision from the Office of Accommodated Testing. If your request is approved:
• You will receive a letter from the MCAT Office of Accommodated Testing. At that point, you must confirm your accommodated seat for the MCAT Exam.
• For next steps, please see Reserving and Confirming a Seat
If your request is NOT approved:
• You will receive a letter informing you that your request has been denied, along with the options available to you.
• You may keep you original appointment and test under "standard" conditions. It is not necessary to confirm your appointment.
What is tested on the MCAT?
Learn the topics covered on the test and what cognitive skills may be assessed for each section of the exam.
• Physical Science Content Outline
• Biological Sciences Content Outline
• Verbal Reasoning Content Areas
• Physical and Biological Sciences Cognitive Skills
• Verbal Reasoning Cognitive Skills
• Trial Section
When are the test dates and registration deadlines?
The MCAT is administered multiple times from late January through early September, and offered at hundreds of test sites in the United States, Canada, and around the world. You may take the exam up to three times in one calendar year. For more info on test dates and registration deadline, please visit the MCAT website at www.aamc.org.
How is the MCAT scored?
The MCAT is scored for each of the four sections individually. The sections consisting of multiple choice questions are first scored right or wrong resulting in a raw score. Note that wrong answers are worth the same as unanswered questions so ALWAYS ANSWER ALL THE QUESTIONS even if you are not sure of certain answers. The raw score is then converted to a scaled score ranging from 1 (lowest) to 15 (highest). The scores are scaled to ensure that the same proportion of individual marks within each section (i.e. 1-15) are given year to year. The essay is scored by two readers on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 6 (highest). The combined scores from the two essays (2 to 12 out of 12) are then converted to a scale ranging from J (lowest) to T (highest). The scores for each section and a cumulative score (i.e. a maximum of 45T) are reported to you, the schools you designate and, with your permission, to your undergraduate advisor. Every MCAT includes a small number of questions which will not be scored. These questions are either used to calibrate the exam or were found to be either too ambiguous or too difficult to be counted. So if you see a question that you think is off the wall, unanswerable or inappropriate, it could well be one of these questions so never panic!
How many times can I take the MCAT?
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, you may do the exam essentially as often as you wish to a maximum of 3 times per year. Subsequently, the medical school to which you would apply may evaluate the most recent score; evaluate only the highest individual and/or set of scores; evaluate an average of the sets of scores, or consider all scores equally and note the improvements.