MCAT Prep Overview

The MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) is a standardized, multiple-choice examination designed to assess the examinee's problem solving, critical thinking, and knowledge of science concepts and principles prerequisite to the study of medicine. Scores are reported in Physical Sciences, Verbal Reasoning, and Biological Sciences.

Most U.S. medical schools and many Canadian schools require applicants to submit MCAT exam scores. Many schools do not accept MCAT exam scores that are more than three years old.

MCAT Section Comparisons

Section # Of Questions Time Allowed Details Score Range
Section # Of Questions Time Allowed Details Score Range
Physical Sciences 52 70 min Tests math skills, physics, and general chemistry 1-15
Biological Sciences 52 70 min Tests basic biology and organic chemistry 1-15
Verbal Reasoning 40 60 min Similar to reading comprehension sections on other standardized tests, such as the SAT or the ACT 1-15
Trial Section (Optional, Unscored) 32 45 min Helps the AAMC determine value of future test questions. Volunteers will receive a $30 Amazon gift card You will receive feedback on your answers
Totals (not including optional section) 144 3 Hours and 20 Minutes Total Score Range: 3-45

***Important information: MCAT Content Changes***

The 2015 MCAT changes from the Pre-2015 MCAT in six major ways:

1. The New MCAT Has More Tested Topics:
There will be three additional semesters worth of material in college-level biochemistry, introductory psychology and introductory sociology, increasing the number of prerequisite classes from eight to eleven. Passages will also place more emphasis on integrating topics, with general chemistry, physics, and biochemistry (for instance) all appearing within the same passage!

2. The New April 2015 MCAT Is Almost Double The Length:
On the new MCAT, you’ll face 230 questions over 6 hours and 15 minutes versus 144 questions in 3 hours 20 minutes currently. The new test will require a lot more stamina and focus. The breakdown of these questions is 10 passages with 4 to 6 questions each and 15 stand-alone questions in each of the science sections, and 9 passages in the CARS section. (Information from AAMC Quarterly Update Meeting, May 2014)

3. The New MCAT Has a Different Scoring Scale:
Each of the four sections on MCAT 2015 will be scored 118-132, for a total possible score of 528. The mean is expected to be 125 per section for a total mean score of 500. This differs from the current 1-15 per section and 1-45 total scale. The first administration of the new MCAT will be in April 2015.

4. You’ll Face New Question Types & Skills:
The current MCAT focuses on content knowledge and critical thinking, but the new MCAT tests two additional skills. Research Design focuses on the fundamentals of creating research projects, bias, faulty results, and variable relationships. Graphical Analysis & Data Interpretation focuses on deriving conclusions and drawing inferences from visual data, including figures, graphs and data tables.

5. The New MCAT Has A More Medical Approach:
On the new MCAT, passages will be restructured to test all of the natural sciences within biological systems, often invoking physiology or pathology. Showing the application of all the tested sciences to medicine encourages students to view these subjects not simply as prerequisites for med school, but for the practice of medicine in general.

6. Verbal Reasoning Is Changing… Slightly:
The new section will now be called Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills, or CARS. Unlike the current Verbal Reasoning section, the new CARS section will no longer include passages on the natural sciences; instead, it will focus exclusively on humanities and social sciences passages. This section will now have 53 items, which will need to be completed in 90 minutes. The passages will have 500 – 600 words.

MCAT Prep Details

  • 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. MCAT scores should be released 30-35 days after your test date.
  • There is no defined waiting period between tests. However, you may take the MCAT exam a maximum of three times per year, and can only register for one session at a time. In addition, there is not a lifetime limit to the amount of times that a pre-medical student can take the MCAT examination.
  • The average composite MCAT score is a 24, or an 8 on each of the multiple choice sections. Note: To be a competitive applicant at a U.S. medical school, your goal should be to score a 10 or above on each section (and a 12 or higher if you are aiming for a top 10 medical school).
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