Do MCAT Questions Repeat?

June 25, 2024

minute read

The MCAT has been around since 1928, and since then, it has been an exam used to screen pre-med students wanting to get into medical school. The AAMC, its administering body, offers the MCAT for 30 testing dates. And you might be wondering: do the questions repeat? 

If you’re interested in whether the questions in the MCAT repeat, you will find the answer and other important information in this article. Read on!

What Makes the MCAT Different from Other Exams?

The MCAT’s main goal is to predict a prospective medical student's performance in medical school. 

In that regard, it is similar to standardized exams that high school students take as a component of their application for admission to colleges, such as the American College Test (ACT) and Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT).

But compared to all previous exams a student has taken, the MCAT is totally different.

The information and analytical abilities that students require for success in medical school are tested on the MCAT exam. The reading, writing, and math abilities needed for success in collegiate studies are tested on the SAT and ACT exams. 

Aside from this, the other differences between MCAT and other standardized exams are. 

The MCAT is a Marathon. 

The MCAT is longer than the ACT or SAT by more than double, lasting seven hours and 30 minutes on exam day. Even the preparation is not taken into account. 

According to the AAMC, students spend, on average, 240 hours studying for the test. Even the most ambitious prep plans for college admission exams pale in comparison to that amount.

The Exam Format is Different.

The MCAT has four sections focusing mainly on biology, biochemistry, chemistry, physics, psychology, and sociology. Furthermore, one of its sections assesses your critical analysis and logical reasoning skills. 

The MCAT Four Test Sections are: 

Because the tests themselves come in different degrees of difficulty, you can have a question on the test itself that is really brief but requires three or four steps to get to the answer. 

Furthermore, you might have another inquiry that sounds lengthier but has a straightforward solution.

The MCAT Requires a Different Set of Knowledge. 

The MCAT is a content-based exam; therefore, candidates must be familiar with particular subject areas to succeed. 

Exams for college admissions, which assess topics students learn throughout their academic careers, differ significantly from this in many ways. And then there is the enormous quantity of material that must be mastered to ace the MCAT test.

There is a lot of content that comes into play, and the big mistake is students think it is the exact same skill. 

They also think that just because they did well on the college admissions test, they would "glide through the MCAT.", and they did not.

How Many Questions are there in the MCAT Exam? 

The MCAT is a long and tedious exam with a total of 230 questions. 

You have seven hours and a half to answer the questions

Below is a detailed breakdown of how many questions there are in each of the four sections of the MCAT. 

Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems – 59 questions

  • 10 passage-based sets of questions
  • 4–6 questions per set
  • 15 independent questions

Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems – 59 questions 

  • 10 passage-best set of questions
  • 4-6 questions per set
  • 15 independent questions

Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior – 59 questions

  • 10 passage-based sets of questions
  • 4–6 questions per set
  • 15 independent questions

Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS) – 53 questions

  • 9 passages
  • 5-7 questions per passage

What are MCAT High-Yield Topics?

The three science-related portions of the MCAT, Biology, Chemistry, and Psychology, all need extensive memorization as part of the preparation process. 

Knowing what most of the questions will focus on is an effective strategy you should employ as you prepare for the MCAT

Here are the MCAT high-yield topics:

  • Bioenergetics principles and fuel molecule metabolism
  • Genetic information that is passed from the gene to the protein
  • Processes that increase genetic diversity
  • Protein structure and function, as well as the amino acids that make them up
  • Transmission of genetic information from generation to generation
  • Biologically important compounds' function, reactivity, and structure
  • Chemical thermodynamics principles and kinetics
  • Methods of separation and purification
  • Molecule nature and intermolecular interactions
  • Water's one-of-a-kind nature and solutions
  • Behavior as influenced by individuals
  • Changes in behavior and attitude
  • Human conduct as influenced by social dynamics

For a complete checklist of the 48 highest yield MCAT topics, recommended by top scorers, be sure to sign up to our free MCAT strategy course here. 🙂

How Do I Analyze the Questions and Answers in the MCAT?

Knowing you have to answer 230 questions is overwhelming enough. How much more if you do not know what the questions will be? 

Fortunately, there are ways to get the answers right, even if the questions are tough. How? By analyzing the questions and following these tips.

Read and Rephrase. 

Reading the question is the first thing to do. This seems sensible, given that many students are instructed to read the answers first. 

To identify what you are looking for, move on to the question. These are some exam-taking advice for middle school and high school students. However, they differ significantly from the MCAT. 

Take a breath after reading the question. 

Ask yourself what exactly they are asking. Or, what purpose do you serve by asking this? 

The majority of people automatically read the question, which is their rhythm. Then, after quickly going through the available options, they return to the passage. 

However, they do not simply ask themselves what is expected of them. So what exactly was the question?

Research, then Eliminate or Predict. 

Perform whatever research you need to do after taking a mental breath. It might not be something you know about. On a scrap of paper, there might be some math. 

You work your way through the problem's answer. After that, check the available options. Then, choose the one that best resembles your idea.

Alternatively, you could jump right to the elimination round. Start selecting the correct answers and erasing them as you go. These are not intrinsically superior to one another. 

Both have benefits and setbacks when making predictions or using the process of elimination. Hence, all that is left is to try it and see what works best for you.

Look for Extreme Answers. 

This is a relatively typical occurrence, particularly in the CARS section. Those broad categorical categories are what students seek in terms of extreme answers (which are less likely to be correct). These include the words always, never, only, and must

Another illustration of this is when they state anything as fact. For instance, it will be discovered that x enhanced y. If you absolutely state is or will, as opposed to expressing would, might, or maybe, it frequently proves too extreme for the correct response.

Read the Question, Again

Follow this trick if you ever have problems answering the question, such as when you reach the dreaded "down to two" stage. Then, read the question again

Even if you are completely confused and are left with only two options, neither of them necessarily represents the best option. There is just one viable option. 

Therefore, simply reread the question instead of reading the passage or four response selections again. Reword it. Then take a second look at those two options.

Does the AMCC Use the Same Questions in the Practice Tests and the Actual MCAT?

The AAMC practice exams were created by the same test writers who created the MCAT, so theoretically, they should be as similar to the real MCAT as possible. 

Many students claim that their actual MCAT score and score on the AAMC practice exams are similar. This is also why practically every test taker uses the AAMC's study guides.

But does this mean that the questions are the same? Or to put it simply, does the AAMC get questions from the practice exams and put them in the actual MCAT? 

The answer is no, because then that would be too easy. However, the AAMC makes it a point that they maintain fairness by having the same difficulty every year.

Do MCAT Questions Repeat?

This is another question most test-takers are curious to find the answer to. Unfortunately, the answer is not a simple yes or no. 

While there will be specific questions that have been asked in the previous years, the AAMC does an excellent job of generating the MCAT using questions dispersed across years of experimental MCAT questions. 

Even if you encounter a repeated question (which happens very rarely), this will have very little of an impact on your MCAT score. It is rare to see a question repeated on the second try, much less to give you a significant advantage.

To sum up, if you are taking the MCAT, do not rely on something you have no control over – whether or not the questions would repeat. That will not give you a great MCAT score. Studying and preparing hard for the MCAT will.

Additional FAQs – Do MCAT Questions Repeat?

Does the AAMC Reuse Tests?

The AAMC does not reuse an entire version of the MCAT. 

Every year, they formulate a test that aims to assess students’ skills in knowledge in all of its four sections.

Does the AAMC Reuse MCAT Questions?

The AAMC does not reuse MCAT questions. 

However, being around since 1928, there could have been some questions that have been repeated over the years. But this happens very rarely.  

If by chance, you come across the same question on a retake, this will not have a significant impact on your overall score.

Are MCAT Questions the Same in the US and Canada?

The AAMC administers the MCAT, and regardless of where you take it, the questions or the test will have the same difficulty. 

It is improbable that test-takers in the same area would have the same exam version on a given test date, let alone for the US and Canada. 

The same questions might be present in a different order but not in the same exam. 

Each exam is generated as a distinct entity when the tester checks in, and is fully downloaded to the machine being used for the exam before the exam starts. 

The MCAT is not a computer-adapted test in which the exam changes based on right or wrong answers as the test progresses.

This is done to ensure the security, fairness, and reliability of the MCAT.

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!

Free Full Length MCAT Practice Exam + Free Top Scorer MCAT Strategy Course!

Sign up once and unlock these plus dozens of other free resources - all created by your MedLife Mentors!

free MCAT practice exam by MedLife vector
The Free Top Scorer MCAT Strategy Video Course 1

Trusted by 2,800+ students since 2019

200+ 5  ⭐️ reviews on TrustPilot

Success message!
Warning message!
Error message!