What is the MCAT Exam?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 16 March 2018
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The MCAT exam is an examination taken by students who are interested in attending medical school in the United States. Almost all American medical schools, including osteopathic medical schools, require their applicants to submit MCAT scores, and these scores can make up an important part of the application. This test is used to gauge readiness for medical school, in addition to generating predictions about how well a student will do. MCAT scores must be less than three years old to be accepted as part of a medical school application.

The Medical College Admissions Test includes four sections, taken over the course of around five hours. Students answer multiple choice questions in verbal reasoning, biological sciences, and physical sciences, and they complete writing samples for the fourth section. The MCAT exam is administered on a computer in a testing center, with most testing centers offering numerous available dates for students to choose from if they want to take the test.

The multiple choice sections are scored from 1-15, while the writing sample is scored from J to T. Scores take several weeks to report, and students can request rescoring if they feel that the scores are erroneous. Test takers also have the right to void the exam on the day of the test. People may opt to void if they feel that they have not performed adequately on the exam and they do not want their tests scored and reported.


The Association of American Medical Colleges, which handles MCAT administration, zealously guards the contents of the test. The Association has released some practice tests and sample questions, but test takers are not allowed to disclose the contents of the tests they take. Study guides and classes to help people prepare for the MCAT exam, therefore, must rely on familiarizing test takers with the kind of content they will be expected to know, rather than providing people with actual questions from real MCAT exams.

This test can be challenging. It does require a basic knowledge of science, which is designed to ensure that medical students all understand at least the basics before they enter medical school. It also requires some critical thinking and reasoning skills, which are deemed necessary in medical practitioners. Students are encouraged to study with review materials and review classes before they take the MCAT exam, to increase their chances of getting a good score. However, if a student scores poorly, the MCAT exam can be re-taken.



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