What is MCAT&Reg; Prep?

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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2018
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The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT®) is a lengthy exam taken by university undergraduates who plan on attending a medical school in the United States. It is a multiple-choice, standardized test administered several times a year by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). The computerized test takes about five hours to complete, and measures a student's knowledge of physical and biological sciences, as well as writing proficiency and verbal reasoning. MCAT® scores usually have a significant impact on whether or not a student is admitted to medical school, so many individuals take advantage of MCAT® prep materials before attempting the test. There are several different MCAT® prep resources available to prospective medical students, including practice tests, strategy books and guides, online preparation material, and private tutor assistance.

Many students obtain MCAT® prep publications from bookstores, online retailers, or local libraries. Most books about the test thoroughly explain the subject matter that will be found on an MCAT® test, as well as the type of questions asked and the amount of time it should take a student to finish each section. Publications usually feature a number of test taking strategies, such as how to eliminate some answers on difficult multiple choice questions and the best means of managing time. MCAT® prep publications can range in size and scope from a few pages of general information to textbook sized, detailed guides on how to conquer the exam.


Another option for prospective medical students is accessing online material. The AAMC website and several unofficial web pages offer test prep guides and resources. Individuals have the opportunity to download practice exams and actual tests from previous years in order to prepare for an upcoming test day. Most practice exams, either written or computerized, come with answer keys so that students can see just how well they perform. The majority of online sources offer free information, though some websites require users to register and pay a fee to access practice tests and other material.

Several private companies and individuals offer MCAT® prep courses to individuals who want direct help. Professional tutors are trained to provide refresher courses on test material and help students figure out how to achieve the best scores. A tutor may recognize, for example, that a particular student is strong in the sciences but lacks skills in verbal reasoning. The tutor would then focus on information and practice questions pertinent to that part of the exam. With the help of tutors, publications, and practice tests, many students find that the MCAT® becomes much less intimidating.



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