The MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test) is a multiple choice exam required by US medical schools to test knowledge of physical science, biological science, and verbal reasoning. Until 2013, it includes a writing sample. Be sure to read below on future MCAT changes. A Fee Assistance Program is available for this test. Many schools will not accept scores more than 3 years old.
You will want to take as many of the required courses as you can before the test. It is not required to take classes before the test, but not taking a course may hurt your chances of answering questions correctly. Taking upper level class may also help problem solving, critical thinking, and overall science concepts. We strongly encourage our students to take Biochemistry as it will not only be required on the next MCAT, but it has been helpful to many students in solidifying concepts.
The strongest way to increase your score is to take practice tests. In between each test, you should study, assess your strengths and weaknesses, focus on improving your weaknesses, and re-assess with another practice test. Around 8 practice tests may assist you greatly before you take the exam. Check out the official AAMC website for more tips and what they recommend on how to prepare.
Timing and Organization
You should take the exam when you are ready. Most people do so around the Spring semester of the year they are planning to apply to medical school. You apply the summer before you plan to start classes in medical school.
For example, start class in August of 2014, apply between June - August of 2013, take MCAT when ready between Dec 2012 - June of 2013.
This large time span requires you to plan out your process and timeline. Utilize your breaks during this time, the MCAT is often offered over Winter break and Spring break, which may be ideal times to take the exam. Keep in mind, it takes 30 days to get scores back, which are needed for our process.
Many programs have "rolling admission" deadlines, or "early decision"; meaning they begin to fill spots as soon as their application cycle opens. This means, the longer you wait, the less spots available for you to claim. So, plan ahead and apply early.
You'll want to consider the option you might need to re-take the test, which takes time to study for again and plan out, so taking it as early as possible the first time is also beneficial.
Changes to MCAT for 2013
January of 2013, the Writing portion of the MCAT will be removed. Instead, you have the option of taking a voluntary and unscored trial section. You may receive gift cards for good faith efforts on this portion of the exam.
The trial section will be 32 questions in 45 minutes. Taking the new voluntary portion of the exam does not increase the time length had you taken the writing portion in the first place.
The New MCAT 2015
The biggest changes are:
- Subjects: The MCAT will now test on Biochemistry, Psychology, and Sociology.
- Time: The exam will also be much longer, reaching a total testing time of about 7.5 hours, including lunch and breaks.
The Revised MCAT exam as of 2015 will include four sections:
- Biological & Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems - Need Biochemistry now
- Chemical & Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
- Psychological, Social, & Biological Foundations of Behavior - Need Psychology and Sociology now
- Critical Analysis & Reasoning Skills - No specific coursework required, see below
For the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section of the exam, you'll be tested on analytical and reasoning skills from passages drawn from disciplines in humanities and social sciences, including philosophy, ethics, cross-cultural studies and population health.
For more information on the concepts covered in each of these sections on the revised MCAT exam you should consult the MCAT 2015 webpage. A detailed MCAT 2015 Preview Guide is also available. Please check this page for updates and more information on changes.
For more information on the MCAT exam, please visit the AAMC MCAT page.