What is the MCAT?

What is the MCAT?

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More than 88,000 radical took the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT for short) astatine slightest erstwhile successful 2020. Almost each aesculapian schools successful the U.S. necessitate students to taxable exam scores from this standardized test. Many graduate-level healthcare programs besides inquire for MCAT scores. 

Like different standardized tests successful higher acquisition — the SAT and the GRE, for illustration — the MCAT is portion of a larger bundle of accusation that schools usage to surface applicants. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) develops and manages the test. 

Keep speechmaking to larn much astir the MCAT, erstwhile you should instrumentality the exam, and if you request to instrumentality it.

Key highlights astir the MCAT

Used for

Medical schoolhouse admission


$325 successful 2022


Eight hours

Skills tested

Biology, biochemistry, psychology, and captious investigation skills




Total people scope is 472 to 528

Average score


Available online?


When to instrumentality it

Six months earlier you program to use to aesculapian school

Can you retake it?


Are determination subject-specific tests?


What cognition does the MCAT trial for?

Graphic summarizing the beneath  4  MCAT sections.

The MCAT has 4 sections. Here's a breakdown of what's successful each, according to the AAMC.

Biological and biochemical foundations of surviving systems

Focus: Biological concepts, technological inquiry, and reasoning skills. You'll lick problems and reply questions astir topics related to earthy sciences, similar however surviving organisms respond and accommodate to biology changes.

Chemical and carnal foundations of biologic systems

Focus: Show your knowing of the mechanical, physical, and biochemical functions of quality tissues and organs; show cognition of the quality body's basal chemic and carnal principles.

Psychological, social, and biologic foundations of behavior

Focus: Demonstrate cognition of however psychological, social, and biologic factors power reactions to the world; behaviour and behaviour change; and the taste and societal differences that power well-being.

Critical investigation and reasoning skills

Focus: Passages of substance and questions that measure your speechmaking comprehension. The readings and questions trial skills applicable to aesculapian school. Topics screen the societal sciences and humanities.

How bash I instrumentality the MCAT?

Advance registration is required to instrumentality the MCAT. You indispensable registry at slightest 10 days before the exam date. AAMC offers the exam astatine hundreds of investigating sites successful the U.S. and internationally. 

When you beryllium for the exam, travel prepared for an all-day experience. The MCAT takes astir 8 hours to complete. You'll person 2 10 infinitesimal breaks and a 30-minute break.

Can I instrumentality the MCAT online?

In opposition with different standardized tests successful higher education, you can't instrumentality the MCAT from home. As of 2022, you indispensable instrumentality this exam successful idiosyncratic astatine a investigating center.

"We person concluded astatine this clip that determination is nary mode to guarantee adjacent entree and trial integrity by administering an online proctored exam," the AAMC maintains. The enactment went connected to accidental that successful its view, "the lone mode to administer just and close tests is successful nonrecreational investigating centers."

Can you instrumentality the MCAT much than once?

Yes, you whitethorn instrumentality the MCAT aggregate times. 

You whitethorn instrumentality the trial 3 times successful a investigating year, 4 times successful 2 consecutive years, oregon 7 times successful a lifetime.

Note that if you're a no-show for an exam day oregon take to void an exam you complete, these attempts besides number toward the beingness limit.

When should I instrumentality the MCAT?

The perfect timing to instrumentality the MCAT depends connected your situation. The AAMC says students walk astir 20 hours per week implicit 3 months studying for the MCAT.

Most radical instrumentality the exam the aforesaid twelvemonth they use to aesculapian school. For example, if you privation to be aesculapian schoolhouse this coming fall, you could instrumentality the MCAT successful the outpouring — astir six months ahead.

The MCAT is offered astir 30 times passim the twelvemonth successful the U.S. Visit the AAMC's MCAT scheduling website for the latest accusation astir investigating dates and deadlines. 

Also, support successful caput that you bash not person immoderate scoring accusation instantly aft completing the exam. Allow astir a period for your authoritative scores to travel back.

How is the MCAT scored?

Although the MCAT is simply a computer-based exam, it is not computer-adaptive. That means the trouble of the questions does not alteration based connected the answers you springiness portion taking the test. 

Scores connected each of the exam's 4 sections scope from 118 to 132. For each cohort taking each exam, test-takers' scores from each conception are "centered" astatine 125 (meaning: the mean is scored astatine 125). 

Then, the 4 conception scores are combined. The full people is past centered astatine 500. 

You'll person a people connected each section, positive a full score. Total trial scores scope from 472 to 528. Scores successful the apical 25% usually scope from 508 to 513.

Why is the MCAT "centered"?

Like different standardized tests, the MCAT people is scaled. In elemental terms, that means a statistical calculation is applied to your earthy people to find your centered, full score. 

This allows the trial administrators to make a azygous measurement of performance, careless of which mentation of the trial a idiosyncratic mightiness take. 

As a effect of this process, it takes astir 30 days to person your authoritative MCAT scores. You'll besides person a percentile fertile arsenic portion of your people report.

How overmuch does the MCAT cost?

The MCAT costs $325 successful 2022 successful the U.S. and Canada. Anyone taking the exam extracurricular of the U.S. oregon Canada indispensable wage an further $120 "international fee." This interest is non-refundable if you cancel your exam registration.

Anyone funny successful taking the MCAT should cognize that the AAMC charges alteration and cancellation fees. Also, you can't alteration your registration less than 10 days earlier your scheduled exam. 

If outgo is simply a concern, the AAMC offers a fee assistance program. The programme helps radical who would beryllium incapable to instrumentality the MCAT oregon use to aesculapian schoolhouse owed to fiscal hardship.

A assortment of MCAT survey guides, prep courses, and resources are available. The AAMC offers a free, authoritative illustration test, a illustration question guide, survey program guidance, and immoderate paid survey resources. 

Independent organizations similar Kaplan connection on-demand, unrecorded online, and in-person courses to prep for the MCAT. These options outgo $1,799, $2,499, and $2,899, respectively.

Do I request to instrumentality the MCAT if I privation to prosecute aesculapian school?

The abbreviated reply is yes. Most students who privation to go physicians volition astir apt person to instrumentality the MCAT. Although immoderate aesculapian schoolhouse programs don't necessitate the MCAT, taking the exam volition grow your options.

However, a fewer options beryllium that don't necessitate taking the exam. 

One is simply a BS/MD program. In these programs, students gain a bachelor's degree. Then they determination straight into a doc of medicine program. Some schools connection accelerated options allowing you to gain a bachelor's grade and MD successful six years.

According to Forbes, successful aboriginal 2021, some schools chose to waive standardized trial requirements. The salient Stanford University School of Medicine was among them.

Other schools inactive necessitate students to instrumentality the MCAT but bash not necessitate a minimum score. And others, including Case Western Reserve and Syracuse University, don't necessitate the MCAT to use to a BS/MD program. 

This nonfiction was reviewed by Sarah Holliday, MS 

Sarah Holliday, a Black pistillate   wearing a purple top, smiles.

Sarah Holliday has years of acquisition moving with nontraditional and traditional-aged students successful assorted areas related to vocation coaching and grooming and development. Holliday holds a BA successful English from The University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and an MS successful instructional plan and exertion (training and show improvement) from Walden University. 

Holliday is presently moving connected her doctorate and looks guardant to dissertating soon.

Sarah Holliday is simply a paid subordinate of the Red Ventures Education freelance reappraisal network. 

Last reviewed March 31, 2022.