Preparing for the MCAT

Just like applying to undergraduate schools, medical schools have certain application requirements for all students. Besides having a bachelor’s degree, a high GPA and an admissions essay, med schools in the United States and Canada require applicants to submit scores from a standardized admission test called the MCAT. But before you rush off to take your test, review below the test format and subject matter of the MCAT to better prepare yourself.

The MCAT, or Medical College Admission Test, is a computer-based, multiple-choice exam designed to assess the test takers’ critical thinking abilities, problem solving skills and knowledge of scientific concepts in preparation for medical school. More specifically, test sections include Verbal Reasoning, which assess a student’s ability to evaluate and apply information given in a prose format, Biological Sciences, which reviews biology and organic chemistry, Physical Sciences, which reviews general chemistry and physics and a Writing Sample that consists of two essay questions.

Each of the three multiple-choice sections are graded separately based on a scale of 1-15, with 1 being the lowest and 15 being the highest. Scores are based on the questions you answer correctly, meaning there is no penalty for wrong answers. Therefore, if you don’t know the answer to a question – guess! On the writing portion of the test, two separate readers will rate your two questions with a letter J through T, with J being the lowest and T being the highest. The exam generally lasts between 4.5 and 5 hours with intermittent breaks.

Like several other professional exams, the MCAT can be voided the day the test has been taken if the student is unsatisfied with his or her performance. It can be voided at any point during the exam, or during a brief window of opportunity at the test’s conclusion. There is a cap, however, on the amount of test one person can register for per year. A student can only take the test three times in a year and must wait generally thirty days after each exam to receive their scores, so plan ahead!

The majority of students that take the MCAT are juniors or seniors in undergraduate school. By beginning to take the exam early, they leave themselves plenty of time to retake the exam, should their scores not be satisfactory to them, and plenty of time to receive their scores and apply to competitive medical schools early.

Did you enjoy this article?

AddThis Social Bookmark Button


Leave a Reply