MCAT Exam FAQs

June 22, 2024

minute read

The MCAT is known to be a challenging exam covering a variety of topics. This can be overwhelming for aspiring doctors, so it is important to be aware of what is covered on the exam and how to properly prepare in order to be successful.

This is why we have created a list of the most commonly asked MCAT questions to help guide you!

MCAT Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the MCAT For?

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) was created and is administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). It is a standardized multiple-choice test to assist admissions offices in evaluating med school students’ problem-solving abilities, critical thinking skills, and knowledge of behavioral, natural, and social science principles and concepts necessary to study medicine. 

The MCAT is meant to identify test takers who possess particular special abilities and knowledge essential for medical school success. 

The MCAT is designed to identify people who will succeed and thrive in the demanding environment of medical school and medical practice, not to be a barrier to admittance into medicine.

What Does the MCAT Test? 

The MCAT has four sections: 
Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems (BBLS)
Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems (CPBS)
Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior (PSBB)
Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS).

Three of the four MCAT sections assess your knowledge of fundamental science concepts by asking you to apply the material critically rather than just state the facts as they are. 

Being a pure critical thinking test, the exam's final section, CARS, is special. A sequence of questions invites you to think critically about the passages on humanities and social science themes, much as you would be required to do in medical school and throughout your careers as doctors.

How Do I Register for the MCAT?

You can directly register for the MCAT through the AAMC website. However, to choose your preferred time, place, and date, you must register as soon as possible. It is because a lot of candidates write the MCAT every year. 

How Much is the MCAT?

The MCAT registration fee for all US and Canadian exam centers is USD 325. In addition to the above fees, overseas students must pay applicable local taxes, such as sales tax, value-added tax, GST/HST, and others, totaling USD 115. In addition to the base price, Canadians must also pay GST/HST. 

The tax rate varies according to the province and the local tax laws that are in effect there. The taxes and additional foreign fees are not refundable, but AAMC gives a full cancellation refund for the base cost. However, if you reschedule or cancel fewer than eight days before the exam.

Who Is Eligible to Take the MCAT?

Anyone interested in a career in allopathic, osteopathic, podiatric, or veterinary medicine is eligible to take the MCAT exam. To be eligible for the exam, students from the United States and Canada must hold an undergraduate degree. 
To take the MCAT, international students must pursue or have completed MBBS. Students who want to take the MCAT for reasons other than to pursue a medical profession must request a special permit from the AAMC.

Can Students Outside the US and Canada Take the MCAT?

Yes, students who are not US or Canadian residents can write the MCAT, provided that they can meet the MCAT's prerequisites. 

As mentioned earlier, international students should be completing or must have pursued their MBBS before taking the MCAT.

Can a 12th Class Pass/Apply for MCAT?

Yes, anyone who applies and pays for the MCAT can take it. However, passing it is another story.  Even the most challenging high school programs would not be able to handle the science that appears on the MCAT. 

As a result, you will not likely perform well on the exam, or at least not as well as you could after your junior year of college when most students take it.

You could take it and choose not to submit your results, but if you do decide to go to med school in the coming years, you will need to explain why that information is on your record. Therefore, we suggest you reconsider if you are a 12th-class student planning on taking the MCAT.

At What Grade Do You Take the MCAT?

Although you are theoretically allowed to take the MCAT at any time, you should do so not later than the summer after your sophomore year and not later than April of the year you plan to apply. 

Your application year can occasionally fall in the spring of your junior year, the spring of your senior year, or a gap year. Just remember to optimize for the best result in the fewest tries.

What Age Should You Take the MCAT?

Since most of the content covered in prerequisite classes is frequently covered on the actual MCAT, applicants commonly take the MCAT after completing these classes for medical school. 

Because of this, students frequently take the MCAT in the summer or fall of their sophomore or junior year of college. This could be between the ages of 19 to 23, depending on when you started your graduate program.

Do I Need a Degree to Take the MCAT?

No, it is not compulsory to have completed an undergraduate degree or even be enrolled in a university to take the MCAT. 

However, you should have taken two semesters of physics, chemistry, organic chemistry, and biology, with one of those semesters emphasizing human physiology, to succeed. The latest versions of the test highlight it. Thus, it is advantageous to have taken a semester of introductory biochemistry.

Can You Take the MCAT Without a Science Degree?

Yes, you can write the MCAT without a degree in science. However, you need tremendous background in science for the MCAT. 

Undergraduate science coursework helps you get ready for the academic demands of medical school and prepares you for the MCAT.  The learning curve is much steeper if you are not already enrolled in a science program.

What is Tested the Most on the MCAT?

Although nearly equal numbers of topics are covered in each of the four science subjects, this does not imply that all science topics will weigh equally in determining your ultimate MCAT score. 

Of the four "classic" MCAT subjects, biology (at 65 percent of the Bio/Biochem section) will be by far the most significant. 

General chemistry (30 percent of the Chem/Phys section), physics (25 percent of the Chem/Phys section), and organic chemistry (15 percent of the Chem/Phys section) will follow in importance.

How is the MCAT Administered?

As of January 2007, the MCAT has transitioned from paper-based to computer-based tests. 
The exam does not, however, use a computer-adaptive style. Instead, students can check their responses inside the current portion of the test because it employs fixed formats.

How Long is the MCAT? 

The MCAT's "content time" without breaks and additional optional sections is 6 hours and 15 minutes. 

The MCAT's "seated time" is 7 hours, 27 minutes when breaks and optional portions are included. Unlike multiple-day exams you might take later in medical school, the MCAT is taken in a single day. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the AAMC offered a shorter exam (5 hours and 45 minutes) during some parts of 2020. However, the MCAT is now back to its standard length.

How Do I Ace the MCAT?

There are several ways to ace the MCAT and get the desired score. The critical thing to remember is to prepare early and have an MCAT study plan. 

Devote at least 300 hours to studying for the MCAT. Answer practice tests and utilizes reliable MCAT resources. You can also opt to enroll in MCAT prep courses and MCAT tutors.

Is Passing the MCAT Hard?

Yes, passing the MCAT can be particularly difficult for several reasons. It is long, covers many topics, and discusses technical details in some domains. Additionally, it asks test-takers to integrate knowledge from many academic disciplines.

How is the MCAT Scored?

Each of the four components of the MCAT receives a separate score. 

Each segment will be given a scaled score with a midpoint of 125 and a range from 118 to 132. These four scores will then be added together to get a final score with a range of 472 to 528 and a midpoint of 500. 

Remember that incorrect answers have the same value as unanswered questions. Therefore even if you are unsure about some of the answers, always answer all the questions.

What is a Good MCAT Score?

A score of 515 or higher, or in the overall 90th percentile, is considered a good MCAT score

Anything that receives a score of 517 or above is regarded as excellent. Therefore, it will be challenging for medical schools to reject your application with that kind of score.

What is an Average MCAT Score?

Your overall MCAT score will fall between 472 and 528, with an average of 500. The scores range from 118 to 132 on each of the four MCAT parts, with an average score of 125. 

The average MCAT score of candidates accepted to allopathic (MD-granting) medical schools for the 2021–2022 academic year was 511.9.

What is a Good MCAT Score for Harvard?

The average MCAT score of students being admitted to Harvard is 520. Hence, if you plan to attend Harvard med school, you will have a higher chance of being accepted if you score 520 or higher.

What is a Top 10% MCAT Score?

An MCAT score in the top 10% is equivalent to the 90th percentile
You need a score of 513 or above to qualify for a top 10% MCAT. The range of MCAT scores required for admission to most medical schools includes a score in the 90th percentile.

What Percentile Is 521 on the MCAT?

521 on the MCAT indicates you performed in the 99th percentile. The higher your percentile, the better. It gives you a good chance of admission to all med schools. The section scores are distributed evenly.

What is the MCAT Score Range?

A scale of 118 to 132 is used to grade each MCAT segment (highest). Therefore, your MCAT total score range, which is the total of your section scores, is 472 to 528. 

The scale will fluctuate significantly from one MCAT administration to the next since different exam versions have different degrees of difficulty.

When Should You Take the MCAT?

Generally, there are around 25 MCAT exam dates available every year. Consider that you will need three to five months to prepare for the MCAT and that your test results should be ready when medical school applications open in June when choosing an MCAT test date. 

You may get a head start and create a solid plan for your MCAT success by taking just a little time to decide your upcoming test date.

Are 3 Months Enough to Study for the MCAT?

Yes, the MCAT preparation period of 90 days, or three months, is enough if you put in the time and effort. 

Try to study and prepare for the MCAT for as long as you can—at least 300–350 hours. Then, make sure you are within your target score by the time you have to take the MCAT by taking as many practice exams as you can.

Are MCAT Tutors Worth It?

When you are a self-motivated student having trouble in one or more areas, private MCAT tutoring will be most beneficial. Without spending too much time reviewing subjects you already understand, private tuition lets you fully concentrate on your unique areas of weakness. 

Private tutoring offers a much more in-depth manner to study material and do well on the MCAT exam than a course, which may provide an excellent overview of all the information.

What is the Best MCAT Tutor? 

There are a lot of MCAT tutors that you can choose from and all of them offer proven strategies and approaches to help you ace the MCAT. 

It is up to you what to choose depending on the price and reputation of these MCAT tutors. One thing worth noting, however, is that some MCAT tutors might work for others but not for you.

How Many Times Can You Take the MCAT?

The MCAT can be taken up to seven times throughout a lifetime. With restrictions on consecutive-year efforts, these attempts may be divided and spaced out according to testing years. 

When applying to colleges, many students are concerned that making many efforts may reflect poorly. 

Frequently, taking the exam more than once and improving your score with each try might reflect favorably by demonstrating your commitment to becoming a doctor.

How Long Do I Wait for My MCAT Results? 

Your MCAT score is not released until roughly 30-35 days following the test date. 

This is due to two factors: You have a window of time to address any worries or problems with the test between the date of your test and the announcement of your MCAT results.

When do MCAT Scores Expire?

Most schools accept test results obtained three years or less before projected matriculation. 

Your MCAT might be as old as 2019 if you apply for enrollment in 2022. However, many colleges will accept test results from four years ago. 

Only a tiny percentage would accept a score if it was obtained within three years of the precise date of enrollment.

What COVID-19 Precautions are Required When Taking the MCAT?

The MCAT exam candidates' health and safety are a top priority for the AAMC. Therefore, all MCAT testing facilities will require students to wear masks starting in May 2021. 

Additionally, there will be no fines for students who need to postpone or reschedule their examinations.

Can Students Talk About the MCAT After Taking it?

You are permitted to discuss your overall exam experience or how you felt while taking the test, but you are not allowed to discuss any exam content (specific questions, answers, or subjects) in a manner that conflicts with the Examinee Agreement

Regardless of why you are taking the exam, you are subject to the Examinee Agreement.

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