MCAT vs NEET: What’s the Difference?

February 20, 2024

minute read

The process of getting into medical school is undeniably challenging. You must pass specific admission exams to gain acceptance to the medical school of your choice.

The MCAT and the NEET are among the top entrance exams used by these educational institutions. Passing either of these two exams will surely be a stepping stone for you to reach your desired medical profession. 

Since both the MCAT and the NEET are associated with medical school admission, you need to know the difference between them.

If you are wondering which exam is required for acceptance into your preferred medical school, this article is for you!

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


What is the MCAT?

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a  7-hour-long computerized admission test that is administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC)

This exam is usually given to incoming pre-med students or any undergraduate students who want to enroll in medical schools primarily located in these countries, including the USA, Canada, Australia, and other countries worldwide.

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. 

Also, the MCAT is a qualifying exam required by these medical schools for aspiring students as part of their admission requirements. 

The exam measures the test-taker’s specific content knowledge and skills. It contains four test sections with 230 multiple-choice test questions

There are  35 prescheduled MCAT exam dates in a year, giving more options and preparation time for those individuals who want to take this exam.

MCAT Four Test Sections are:

What is NEET?

It is a nationwide entrance exam used by medical schools, dental colleges, and universities that offer medical courses in India.

The National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) or known before as the All India Pre-Medical Test (AIPMT) is a mandatory admission test and is currently conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA)

And it should be taken by those international students and Indian nationals who want to pursue Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS), and Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) courses in the country.

In addition, the exam is 3 hours and 20 minutes long and contains four test sections which have two sets, Section A and B, respectively. 

The NEET aims to help these medical schools evaluate their applicants and determine if they are eligible to take up medical and dental courses. 

NEET is offered only once a year and is a paper-based test, meaning you will answer the exam using pen and paper. Also, there will be 180 multiple-choice test questions that you need to answer within the given exam duration. 

NEET Test Sections:

  • Physics (Section A and B)
  • Chemistry (Section A and B)
  • Botany (Section A and B)
  • Zoology (Section A and B)

MCAT vs. NEET: What are the Similarities?

These two exams are somewhat similar in their purpose and objective as they assess and help medical schools, dental schools, and those universities that offer medical courses in evaluating their applicants. 

The MCAT and NEET are among the top medical admission exams. It allows educational institutions to choose qualified and best candidates to take up a medical program.

Exam Format and Structure: MCAT vs. NEET

Both the MCAT and NEET significantly differ in their respective exam format and structure. 

The MCAT and NEET test sections discuss the topics and branches of science they cover. 

Also, the MCAT evaluates the applicant's critical analysis and thinking abilities, while the NEET only focuses on the four branches of science, including Physics, Chemistry, Zoology, and Botany.

Similarly, both exams contain four test sections, and they utilize the multiple-choice test question format across their test sections. 

While the MCAT contains more test questions which total 230 test questions, compared to NEET which only has 180 test questions.

Furthermore, the NEET is only 3 hours and 20 minutes long compared to the MCAT, which is approximately 7 hours and 30 minutes long

And also, the MCAT and NEET differ in how each test is delivered. For example, the MCAT is computer-based, while the latter (NEET) is a paper-based exam

The MCAT is also offered 35 times a year between the months of January to September, which is very convenient for its test-takers.

On the contrary, the NEET is only offered once annually.

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

Exam Format and Structure

MCAT

NEET

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

Physics (Section A and B)


Chemistry (Section A and B)


Botany (Section A and B)


Zoology (Section A and B)

Test Duration

Duration per test section:

 

90 to 95 minutes each 


Overall:


7 hours and 33 minutes, including break times.

Overall:


3 Hours and 20 minutes

Number of Test Questions

230 Test Questions

180 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. NEET

The MCAT and NEET vary in their scoring system. For example, the MCAT has a score range per test section and an overall score. 

The score range of the MCAT exam is between 118 to 132 points in each test section, with an overall score of 472 to 528 points.

Moreover, the MCAT also has its corresponding percentile rank, composed of accumulated test scores from previous test-takers. 

However, NEET does not have score points like the MCAT; instead, it has specific scores for each correct and incorrect answer. 

For example, NEET gives +4 points for each correct answer and -1 point for each incorrect answer of the test-taker. 

And the NEET overall highest possible score for this test ranges from 650 to 700 points which is described as an excellent score range for the exam.

MCAT Scoring

NEET Scoring

Score Range Per Test Section:


118 to 132


Overall Score Range:


472 to 528

Score Points:


+4 points for every correct answer

-1 point for every incorrect answer


Overall Possible Score:


650 to 700 points

The table below shows the NEET Overall Score and its corresponding description. 

NEET Overall Score

Description

650 to 700

Very Good

650 to 500

Good

550 to 430

Average

400 to 200

Low

Here is the MCAT Percentile Rank from May 1, 2021, to April 30, 2022. This specific percentile ranking table is used as a comparison table for the recent test-taker’s score. It helps the recent MCAT test-takers know the percentile ranking of their scores. 

Overall MCAT Score

Percentile Rank

Header

Overall MCAT Score

Percentile Rank

Header

Overall MCAT Score

Percentile Rank

472

<1%

Cell

491

19%

Cell

510

78%

473

<1%

Cell

492

21%

Cell

511

81%

474

<1%

Cell

493

24%

Cell

512

84%

475

<1%

Cell

494

27%

Cell

513

86%

476

1%

Cell

495

29%

Cell

514

88%

477

1%

Cell

496

32%

Cell

515

90%

478

1%

Cell

497

35%

Cell

516

92%

479

2%

Cell

498

38%

Cell

517

94%

480

3%

Cell

499

42%

Cell

518

95%

481

4%

Cell

500

45%

Cell

519

96%

482

4%

Cell

501

48%

Cell

520

97%

483

6%

Cell

502

52%

Cell

521

98%

484

7%

Cell

503

55%

Cell

522

99%

485

8%

Cell

504

58%

Cell

523

99%

486

9%

Cell

505

62%

Cell

524

100%

487

11%

Cell

506

65%

Cell

525

100%

488

13%

Cell

507

69%

Cell

526

100%

489

15%

Cell

508

72%

Cell

527

100%

490

17%

Cell

509

75%

Cell

528

100%

Test Requirements: MCAT vs. NEET

If you intend to take the MCAT or NEET, you can easily register for these exams since they offer online registration. You can directly go to their official websites and create an account. 

After that, you can process your registration. Make sure to provide all the required documents and proof of your identification. 

However, NEET requires a lot of documents for Indian nationals and other nationalities that intend to take the exam. 

Also, note that the NEET has an age limit set in contrast to MCAT which does not require such. The NEET test-taker should be at least 17 years old for them to qualify to take the exam, they do not accept applicants below this age. 

As for the documents that MCAT requires during the registration process, it is not as much complicated and many compared to the NEET. 

The comprehensive table below shows the differences between MCAT and NEET with their respective test requirements. 

MCAT Test Requirements

NEET Test Requirements

For Online Registration Process:


- Make an account on the AAMC website.


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


- Go to the MCAT registration systems 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


5. 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 Online Registration Process:


- Create an account on the NEET website.


- Register as a NEW USER and complete the application forms.


- Upload the required documents.


- Pay for the exam.


- Complete all the steps, accept the declaration button, and submit the NEET application form.

Upload the following documents during the registration and strictly follow the format provided below:


1. Passport size Photograph 

- Size: 10 to 200kb

- Format: JPG

- White Background and 80% face coverage


2. Postcard size Photograph 

- Size: 10 to 200kb

- Format: JPG

- Must be 4”x6”


3. Signature 

- Size: 4 to 30kb

- Format: JPG

- Must use a blue or black pen and write on white background


4. Left-hand and Right-hand fingers and thumb impression 

- Size: 10 to 200kb

- Format: JPG

- Left-hand thumb with Blue ink on white paper


5. Class Passing Certificate 

- Size: 50 to 300kb

- Format: PDF

- Upload the scanned copy of document


6. Category Certificate (SC/ST/OBC/EWS) 

- Size: 50 to 300kb

- Format: PDF

- Scanned copy of the Category Certificate


7. PwBD Certificate 

- Size: 50 to 300kb

- Format: PDF

- Scanned copy of the certificate


8. Citizenship certificate/ Embassy certificate or any documentary proof of Citizenship certificate 

- Size: 50 to 300kb

- Format: PDF

- Scanned copy of the certificate



Present the following upon registration:


1. Email ID and mobile number.


2. Details of class 10th and 12th marks, school, board, subjects, date, and year of passing.


3. Aadhar number (last 4 digits) or details of any valid ID proof.

- For Indian nationals: (Aadhaar- UID, Passport, PAN Card, Voter ID, College ID, Employee ID, and Driving License.


-For NRIs/Foreign Nationals: (Passport)


4. Bank account/Credit Card/Debit Card/ UPI details for NEET application fee payment.



Provide scanned/photocopied of the following:


1. Passport-sized photo


2. Postcard size photo


3. Signature


4. Left and Right-hand fingers and thumb impressions


5. PDF format of Category certificates (SC/ST/OBC/EWS certificates)


6. PWD Certificate (if applicable)


7. Candidate’s class 10 passing certificate


8. Citizenship certificate issued by the embassy or any other responsible authority in PDF format.



Documents required by NRI for Foreign Applicants:


1. Birth Certificate


2. Citizenship & ID proof


3. Passport Number


4. A minimum of 50% marks in class 12th in Physics, Chemistry, and Biology.

Test Costs: MCAT vs. NEET

The exam fees and currencies used for MCAT and NEET are completely different from each other. 

For example, the MCAT uses USD as its currency, while the NEET cost is INR since the exam is only applicable in India. 

For the mode of payment, both of these exams accept major credit cards and debit cards. In addition, the NEET also accepts payments made through the UPI App, Internet Banking, and E-wallet.  

Also, the MCAT costs USD 325, while the NEET costs NR 1600 (General), INR 1500 (General-EWS/OBC Category), and INR 900 (SC/ST/PH Category). The costs differ on what category the test-taker will choose. 

For the MCAT, they will charge USD 55 for late registrations and as for the NEET, it does have any additional costs. 

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


MCAT Fee

Time Allotted

Payment Modes

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

Accepts credit or debit cards, UPI App, Internet Banking, and E-wallet

Cost

USD 325

INR 1600 - General

INR 1500 - General-EWS/OBC Category

INR 900 - SC/ST/PH Category

Test Recognition: MCAT vs. NEET

In terms of test recognition, the MCAT and NEET differ significantly. It is because the NEET is only used nationally and is only recognized in India. Also, it is widely accepted in private and government medical colleges in the country. 

On the other hand, the MCAT is internationally recognized by hundreds of medical schools and universities that offer medical courses and programs.

For example, the MCAT is trusted and primarily used in these countries, including the United States, Canada, Europe, Singapore, Australia, and the Caribbean Islands. 

Below are some medical schools (Public & Private)  in India that require the NEET. 
  • All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi
  • Christian Medical College, Vellore
  • National Institute of Mental Health & Neurosciences, Bangalore
  • Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi
  • Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences and Research
  • Kasturba Medical College, Manipal
  • King George’s Medical University, Lucknow
  • Maulana Azad Medical College, Delhi
  • University College of Medical Sciences, Delhi
  • Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, Puducherry
  • Institute of Medical Sciences, BHU, Varanasi
  • Government Medical College and Hospital, Chandigarh
  • St. Johns Medical College, Bangalore
  • MS Ramaiah Medical College, Bangalore
  • KPC Medical College and Hospital, Jadavpur
  • Seth Gordhandas Sunderdas Medical College, Mumbai
  • Armed Forces Medical College, Pune
  • Grant Medical College, Mumbai
  • Byramjee Jeejeebhoy Medical College, Ahmedabad
  • Lady Hardinge Medical College, New Delhi
  • Kolkata Medical College (LHMC), Kolkata
  • Patna Medical College, Patna
  • Institute of Medical Sciences Banaras Hindu University Varanasi
  • Assam Medical College, Dibru

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. NEET

Many wonder if the MCAT and NEET have the same difficulty level since these two exams are recognized and used by medical schools and other educational institutions as an admission test. 

MCAT is already known as a very difficult entrance exam for medical schools and is highly recognized worldwide. Similarly, NEET is also a challenging qualifying test used by medical schools, dental schools, and other educational institutions, specifically in India, that offer medical courses. 

Thus, the MCAT and NEET are both complex and challenging admission exams for medical schools. Due to this, we cannot explicitly determine if the MCAT is easier than NEET or vice versa.

Should You Take the MCAT vs. NEET?

NEET is a mandatory admission exam in India for various medical professions. Thus, If you reside in India or intend to study or take up a medical degree there, you must take the NEET instead of the MCAT. 

Contrastingly, the MCAT is an internationally accepted and acknowledged admission exam for medical schools located in various countries, including Canada, Australia, the USA, and others. 

So to put it simply, you can take the MCAT if you are outside India and planning to get into medical school. 

Note that NEET is only a national-level admission test, while the MCAT is recommended internationally by different countries.

Summary Table of Differences: MCAT vs. NEET


MCAT

NEET

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

Physics (Section A and B)


Chemistry (Section A and B)


Botany (Section A and B)


Zoology (Section A and B)

Test Duration

7 hours and 33 minutes, including break times.

3 hours and 20 minutes

Number of Test Questions

230 Test Questions

180 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:

+4 points for every correct answer

-1 point for every incorrect answer

Overall Possible Score:

650 to 700 points

Test Frequency

35 testing dates from January to September. 

Offered only once annually

Exam Cost

USD 310

INR 1600 - General

INR 1500 - General-EWS/OBC Category

INR 900 - SC/ST/PH Category

Mode of Payment

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

Accepts credit or debit cards, UPI App, Internet Banking, and E-wallet

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