MCAT (Medical School Admission Test)

As part of your application to medical school, you will be required to take the MCAT. Here are the most commonly asked questions students have about the MCAT:

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What is the MCAT?

The MCAT (The Medical College Admissions Test) is the standardized test required for medical school admissions. The four sections of the MCAT are: (1) Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems, (2) Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems, (3) Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations, and (4) Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills. For more information, including access to sample questions, please go to the MCAT website.

 

When should I take the MCAT?

When you are READY! The MCAT plays a huge role in your medical school admissions odds, so it is imperative to take the test when you are prepared and can do your best. The first step is making sure you are done with your prerequisite courses, which overlap with the content on the MCAT. This includes your general and organic chemistry, math/stats, physics and biology (including biochemistry!). While not neccessarily required for admissions, psychology and sociology courses are recommended.

Many students find it advantageous to study in the summer when there are less competing priorities. For those applying right after graduation (and taking a gap year), you may want to consider the summer after your junior year. In general, we recommend the latest MCAT test date be the April/May in the year that you are applying. However, this does not give you much flexible if you need to re-take.

How and when do I register for the MCAT?

Plan ahead! The MCAT is only offered 21 times per year and fills very quickly, especially in California. It is not uncommon for students to sign up 6+ months in advance of when they would like to take the test. Register and find out about deadlines, locations, fees, and more. 

 

Is there assistance to help with the cost of the MCAT?

Yes, the AAMC Fee Assistance Program offers financial assistance to eligible applicants in the way of reduced MCAT registration fees, free practice tests and waivers for application fees. Please plan ahead and apply well before you plan to register for the MCAT and apply to medical school.

How should I prepare for the MCAT?

Most students study around 3-4 months for the MCAT. Many enroll in test prep classes (Princeton Review, Kaplan, Berkeley Review) but not all. You need to assess what type of learner you are and how you will best succeed. In addition to completing the prerequisite courses, there are many resources to help you prepare- from full-length practice tests to online resources, such as Khan Academy or Examkrackers. Go to the official MCAT site for more resources.

 

Under what circumstances should I consider retaking the MCAT?

Statistically, the majority of students who re-take the MCAT get a lower score the second time around. If you are considering re-taking the MCAT, you should have concrete reasons as to why you think you can do better. Some examples may include: not dedicating enough time to studying/not studying effectively, not having completed sufficient prereqs, and personal/test day circumstances. A feeling of 'I can do better' without any evidence backing that up usually is not a good reason. Remember, schools will see all test scores, even if they take the most recent or highest.

Questions to ask yourself before you retake the MCAT.