MCAT vs IMAT: What’s the Difference?

February 20, 2024

minute read

Medical schools and other educational institutions offering medical programs do not use the same admission exams. Some prefer the MCAT, while others prefer the IMAT

These two tests are known to many as part of getting into medical school. Sometimes, students are confused about what exam to take or whether they can take both of these admission tests. 

We aim to give everyone a clearer view of the MCAT and IMAT and avoid any confusion between these two exams. 

This article will go through the different exam structures, exam fees, and other characteristics of MCAT and IMAT. We will give a comprehensive comparison between the IMAT and MCAT. 

What is the MCAT?

This exam is the top-choice admission exam by medical schools worldwide. Also, the MCAT is popular among those prominent universities and other medical schools, mainly those in the USA, Canada, Australia, and more.

The MCAT is a computerized admission test given to those individuals or students who want to pursue a medical degree. It is also a prerequisite when entering any medical school.

The test’s primary purpose is to assess the knowledge of pre-medical students in ChemistryPhysicsBiologyPsychology, and Sociology. These basic sciences are usually encountered when taking any medical course. 

Furthermore, the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a 7-hour exam with four test sections. It is administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. 

The MCAT exam is offered 35 times a year to evaluate the applicants' capabilities and skills and whether they are fit to enroll in medical school. 

Also, there are 230 test questions in a multiple-choice format that you need to answer within the given exam period. And the MCAT is only taken at their official testing centers. 

MCAT Four Test Sections are: 

What is the IMAT?

The International Medical Admissions Test (IMAT) is conducted by the Italian Ministry of Education, Universities, and Research (MIUR) and in collaboration with the Cambridge Assessment Admission Testing

It is a paper-based standardized examination used by medical schools and universities in Italy, Europe, and other parts of the UK as part of their admission requirements. 

The IMAT is the English version of the Italian admission tests used by these institutions. And the exam is also considered an admission test for medicine, surgery, biomedicine, and other medical degree courses offered in different institutions in the UK.

The IMAT contains four test sections with 60 test questions, and the applicants are given 100 minutes to finish the exam in one sitting.

Moreover, the exam is accepted and recognized in over 20 countries worldwide. And if you are registering for the IMAT outside the E.U., you need to follow their specific test requirements to successfully register for the exam. 

IMAT Test Sections are:

  • General Knowledge
  • Logical Reasoning
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Mathematics

MCAT vs. IMAT: What are the Similarities?

The MCAT and the IMAT are two exams commonly taken by applicants who wish to pursue a medical profession. 

Also, one of the similarities between the MCAT and IMAT is that both are highly recognized and trusted by medical schools. They evaluate their applicants' knowledge and skills, determining whether they can undergo challenging medical courses.

Exam Format and Structure: MCAT vs. IMAT

The MCAT and IMAT cover different branches of science in their test sections. Both exams significantly differ in their subjects, skills, and knowledge.   

Moreover, IMAT aims to assess general knowledge and skills, including problem-solving abilities, understanding of an argument, data analysis, and inference. Also, it evaluates the logical reasoning and mathematical abilities of the applicant. 

The test sections of the IMAT also cover biology, chemistry, and physics topics, divided into four test sections. 

The MCAT also has four test sections, but it focuses on different physical and biological sciences. 

The MCAT also evaluates the test taker's  verbal, writing, and reasoning skills, which are essential in taking up a medical degree. 

While IMAT does not assess an individual's writing skills, it mainly focuses on reasoning and analytical skills. 

In terms of test questions, MCAT has 230 multiple-choice test questions, and it runs for roughly 7 hours and 30 minutes long

While the duration of the IMAT is only 100 minutes and contains only 60 multiple-choice test questions, it clearly shows that this exam is shorter than the MCAT. 

For the test frequency of both exams, the MCAT has more test schedules offered in a year compared to IMAT, which is only available once annually. 

The table below compares  the MCAT and IMAT exam structure and format, including their test frequency. 

Exam Format and Structure

MCAT

IMAT

Test Sections

Biological and Biochemical Foundations


Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems


Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior


Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

General Knowledge


Logics


Biology


Chemistry


Physics


Math

Test Duration

Duration per test section:

 

90 to 95 minutes each 


Overall:


7 hours and 33 minutes, including break times.

100 minutes

Number of Test Questions

230 Test Questions

60 Test Questions

Type of Test Questions

Multiple-Choice Test Format

Multiple-Choice Test Format

Test Frequency

35 testing dates annually from January to September.

Once a year

Test Delivery Mode

Computer-Based Test

Paper-Based Test

Scoring: MCAT vs. IMAT

In the scoring system, the MCAT and IMAT have varying scores for their respective test sections. 

As for the IMAT, if you answered all the 60 questions correctly, you will get the highest possible score which totals 90 points

Also, every correct answer is equivalent to 1.5 points, and you will receive 0.4 points for every incorrect one

In contrast, the MCAT has a score range of 118 to 132 points in each test section. Also, the four scores you receive will be added to the MCAT overall score between 472 to 528 points

You can also compare your overall MCAT score by using the MCAT percentile rank that ranges from 1% to 100%.   It summarizes the overall scores from its previous test-takers two years ago. 

Also, this percentile rank will show the ranking of your scores whether or not you have passed the 50% percentile or more.

MCAT Scoring

IMAT Scoring

Score Range Per Test Section:

118 to 132


Overall Score Range:

472 to 528

Score Points:


1.5 points per correct answer,

0.4 points per incorrect answer

Overall Score Range:

90 points

Below is the MCAT Percentile Rank from May 1, 2021, to April 30, 2022 MCAT exam. It is a percentile ranking table that covers the overall test scores of the test-takers from this period. 

If you have taken the MCAT after the previous schedule, you can check the percentile ranking of your test score using this table.

Overall MCAT Score

Percentile Rank

Overall MCAT Score

Percentile Rank

Overall MCAT Score

Percentile Rank

472

<1%

491

19%

510

78%

473

<1%

492

21%

511

81%

474

<1%

493

24%

512

84%

475

<1%

494

27%

513

86%

476

1%

495

29%

514

88%

477

1%

496

32%

515

90%

478

1%

497

35%

516

92%

479

2%

498

38%

517

94%

480

3%

499

42%

518

95%

481

4%

500

45%

519

96%

482

4%

501

48%

520

97%

483

6%

502

52%

521

98%

484

7%

503

55%

522

99%

485

8%

504

58%

523

99%

486

9%

505

62%

524

100%

487

11%

506

65%

525

100%

488

13%

507

69%

526

100%

489

15%

508

72%

527

100%

490

17%

509

75%

528

100%

Test Requirements: MCAT vs. IMAT

To register for the MCAT and IMAT, you need to process it online on their respective websites. On their websites, you can create an account and follow the instructions to register for the exam.

As for the IMAT, if you are processing your registration outside the UK or Europe, you must acquire certain documents before proceeding with the exam registration. 

The first one is the Pre-Enrollment Application Form for Non-EU Citizens Living Outside Italy document; you can acquire this document online. After filling out this form, you need to visit your nearest Italian consulate to get the Dichiarazione di Valore (Declaration of Value) document. 

If you have acquired both of these documents, you can then proceed with the online registration for the IMAT. 

The MCAT registration process is straight forward. Registration is also online and the exam does not require many documents from the applicants. As long as you can provide the necessary documents, such as valid proof of your identification during registration, you are good to go. 

You can check the comprehensive table below showing the differences between MCAT and IMAT with their respective test requirements.

MCAT Test Requirements

IMAT Test Requirements

For Online Application


- Make an account on the AAMC website.


- Fill out the application questions and prompts on their website.


- Go to MCAT registration systems and and follow the instructions given.


Present the following upon registration:  


1. Any government-issued IDs (must be valid and not expired)


2. ID must contain a clear photo of you.


3. ID must be in English.


4. Accepted IDs include: 


- Driver’s license


- Passport


- Permanent Resident Card (Green Card)


- Employment Authorization Document


- Canada Health Card (For Ontario and British Columbia only)


- Consular ID


- Canadian Aviation Card


1. Submit your academic transcripts 

(applicable for high school, undergraduate, and any post-graduate education). Also, it accepts unofficial transcripts but must reflect your full name.

For Registration Process:


- Registration is done through their website. 


- Select your country and desired university or medical school.


- Provide all the necessary information and pay for the exam.


- Wait for the payment confirmation email and for the time and test center details.


- Print the confirmation email.


Pre-enrollment Process for Non-EU/Other Countries:


1. Fill out the Pre-Enrollment Application Form for Non-EU Citizens Living Outside Italy, which is essential to obtain the Dichiarazione di Valore document.


2. Visit your nearest Italian consulate and acquire the Dichiarazione di Valore (Declaration of Value) document.

3. After, proceed to its online registration through its official website.


Present the following upon registration:


1. Present the confirmation emails for both the registration and payment process.


2. Identification documents (must be original and valid bearing the details used during registration)


3. Proof of confirmation from your medical school (access arrangements).


4. Black pens.


5. Accepted IDs include:


- Passport


- Driver’s License/Provincial Driving License


- Student ID

Test Costs: MCAT vs. IMAT

Only major credit cards, debit cards, and other selected prepaid cards are accepted by the IMAT. These are the only payment choices available for this exam, they do not accept bank transfers or cash payments. 

This is also true for the MCAT, which only accepts payment through major credit cards, including American Express, VISA, and MasterCard. 

As for its test cost, the MCAT charges around USD 325 and an additional cost of USD 55 for late registrations. 

The IMAT does not charge any late registration fee as it does not accept late registrations. The only thing you can do is wait for the next exam schedule. 

The IMAT costs around GBP 114, EUR 130, and USD 164. The cost of the exam depends on where you are taking it. 

Below is a comprehensive table showing the cost differences and payment options of MCAT and IMAT.


MCAT Fee

IMAT Fee

Payment Modes

Only accepts credit or debit cards (American Express, VISA, MasterCard)

Accepts any card with the VISA symbol (VISA credit card, debit card, and VISA prepaid card).


Any card with the MasterCard Symbol (including prepaid card)


Any card with the Maestro symbol.


Any JCB and Electron cards.

Cost

USD 325

GBP 114

EUR 130

USD 164

Test Recognition: MCAT vs. IMAT

The MCAT and IMAT exams are well-known admission tests that are acknowledged and trusted by most medical schools worldwide. 

And because the MCAT is a highly in-demand admission exam by universities and medical schools worldwide, this exam is accepted in the following countries: the United States, Canada, Europe, Singapore, Australia, and the Caribbean Islands. 

Many IMAT test centers are located in the United States, the United Kingdom, India, Israel, Brazil, China, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. 

In comparison, the IMAT is popular among those medical schools in the UK and other European countries, while the MCAT is highly recognized in western countries. 

Below are some universities in the United Kingdom that require the UK.

  • the University of Bari
  • the University of Bologna
  • University Campania “Luigi” Vanvitelli
  • the University of Messina
  • International Medical School at the University of Milan
  • the University of Milan-Bicocca
  • the University of Padua
  • the University of Pavia
  • the University of the Parma
  • Sapienza University of Rome
  • University of Rome Tor Vergata
  • the University of Siena
  • the University of Turin
  • the University of Naples Federico II

Below are some medical schools in Australia that require the MCAT. 

  • Griffith Medical School
  • Melbourne Medical School
  • UQ Medical School
  • Sydney Medical School
  • McMaster University Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine
  • Queen’s University School of Medicine
  • University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry
  • University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine
  • University of Calgary Cumming School of Medicine
  • University of Manitoba Max Rady College of Medicine
  • University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine
  • Harvard Medical School
  • Yale School of Medicine
  • Boston University School of Medicine
  • Stanford University School of Medicine
  • Georgetown University School of Medicine
  • Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • Howard University College of Medicine
  • University of South Alabama College of Medicine
  • New York Medical College
  • Duke University School of Medicine
  • Michigan State University College of Human Medicine
  • Saint Louis University School of Medicine
  • Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine
  • California Northstate University College of Medicine
  • George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences
  • …and more.

Which is Easier: MCAT vs. IMAT

Standardized examinations used by most medical schools and universities are known to be complex and challenging as they really test the abilities and skills of the applicant.

In comparison, the MCAT and IMAT are totally different exams in terms of their exam structure, format, topics, and duration, which highly affect the difficulty levels of each. 

The MCAT is one of the longest admission exams available for medical school. Many of its test-takers find it very challenging; it contains 200 plus test questions dealing with complex topics. 

On the contrary, IMAT only lasts for 100 minutes with 60 test questions and is known to be more manageable compared to the MCAT. 

However, do not get discouraged, it is possible to achieve a competitive score on the MCAT.

There are many available MCAT review materials and practice tests that will help you get familiarized with the exam structure, format, and how they present their test questions. 

We should also consider that the difficulty level of these exams is subjective, and there are some cases wherein one may find one exam easier than the other and vice versa.

Should You Take the MCAT vs. IMAT?

The MCAT and IMAT are standardized examinations commonly used by medical schools and universities in different countries. But it does not mean you can take the MCAT or IMAT because you like the other exam and vice versa. 

Before taking either of these two admission exams, you must consider what country you will pursue a medical degree. 

For example, suppose you are in Europe or any other country in the United Kingdom. In that case, they highly prefer the IMAT over the MCAT since it is the standard admission exam used by the institutions there. 

As for the MCAT, it is preferred by medical schools and universities in the USA, Australia, Canada, and other countries. 

Just to be sure, you should confirm first with your desired medical school or educational institution what standardized admission exam they accept or require from their applicants.

Summary Table of Differences: MCAT vs. IMAT

Below is the table of differences between the MCAT and IMAT.


MCAT

IMAT

Test Sections

Biological and Biochemical Foundations


Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems


Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior


Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

General Knowledge


Logics


Biology


Chemistry


Physics


Math

Test Duration

7 hours and 33 minutes, including break times.

100 minutes

Number of Test Questions

230 Test Questions

60 Test Questions

Type of Test Questions

Multiple-Choice Test Format

Multiple-Choice Test Format

Scoring System

Score Range Per Test Section:


118 to 132


Overall Score Range:


472 to 528

Score Points:


1.5 points per correct answer

0.4 points per incorrect answer


Overall Score Range:


90 points

Test Frequency

35 testing dates from January to September.

Once a year

Exam Cost

USD 310

GBP 114

EUR 130

USD 164

Mode of Payment

Only accepts credit or debit cards (American Express, VISA, MasterCard)

Accepts any card with the VISA symbol (VISA credit card, debit card, and VISA prepaid card).


Any card with the MasterCard Symbol (including prepaid card)


Any card with the Maestro symbol.


Any JCB and Electron cards

Your MCAT Success Mentors

About the Author

We're a team of future doctors passionate about giving back and mentoring other future doctors! All mentors on the team are top MCAT scorers and we all are committed to seeing you succeed in achieving your physician dreams ???? To help you achieve your goal MCAT score, we take turns hosting these Live MCAT Courses and are also available for 1:1 private tutoring!

How To Increase Your MCAT Score In 3 Weeks
Free Video: How I Increased My MCAT Score By 18 Points In 3 Weeks & Scored 516

Trusted by 2,800+ students since 2019

200+ 5  ⭐️ reviews on TrustPilot

>
Success message!
Warning message!
Error message!