MCAT FAQ

What is the MCAT?

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a computer-based standardized test required for admission to medical school in the USA and Canada. It is designed to assess problem solving, critical thinking, written analysis, and writing skills in addition to knowledge of scientific concepts and principles.

See information on our Test Prep Tutors for the MCAT.

Where can I take the MCAT?

The exam is offered 25 or more times per year at Prometric centers.

When should I take the MCAT?

Most students take the MCAT in their junior or senior year of college, before they apply to medical school.

How is the MCAT organized?

The MCAT consists of four sections:

Section Topic Questions Minutes
Tutorial (optional) - - 10
1. Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
[Approx. ½ of this section is similar to the ‘old’ MCAT Physical Sciences]
  • Biochemistry (25%)
  • Biology (5%)
  • General Chemistry (30%)
  • Organic Chemistry (15%)
  • Physics (25%)
59 95
Break (optional) - - 10 
2. Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
[Very similar to the ‘old’ MCAT Verbal Reasoning]
Non-sciences. All information necessary to answer the questions can be reasoned from the passages.  53 90
Mid-Exam/LUNCH Break (optional) - - 30
3. Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
[Most of this section is similar to the ‘old’ MCAT Biological Sciences]
  • Biochemistry (25%)
  • Biology (65%)
  • General Chemistry (5%)
  • Organic Chemistry (5%) 
59 95
Break (optional) - 10

4. Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
[New section with no ‘old’ MCAT equivalent]                    

  • Psychology (65%)
  • Sociology (30%)
  • Biology (5%)
59 95
Total Content Time - - 6 hrs, 15 min
Total "Seated" Time (approx.) - - 7 hrs, 30 min

How is the MCAT scored?

  • Individual section scores are centered at 125, with a range from 118 to 132. 
  • Scores for the four sections are added to produce the total score. 
  • Total scores for the exam are centered at 500, with a range from 472 to 528. 
  • The MCAT score scales emphasize the center of the scales, rather than the top third. Students with scores in the center of the scales are likely to succeed in medical school. They are likely to graduate in four or five years and pass their licensure exams on the first try.

Here are three important points to consider about the score scales:

  • The MCAT exam has a long history of predicting a wide range of student outcomes in medical school, including students’ grades in all four years of medical school and scores on medical school and USMLE exams. Scores on the new exam continue to predict different kinds of student outcomes in medical school, including grades in classes and scores on medical school and licensure exams. That is, examinees who score higher on the new MCAT exam are likely to receive better grades and obtain higher scores on various exams, including licensure exams.
  • Each of the four sections includes more questions than appear in the sections of the previous exam. These additional questions make section scores on the new exam more accurate than section scores on the previous exam.
  • The score scales re-center the distributions and correct the “bunching” at the upper ends of the scales that has occurred prior to the test changes in 2015. This means that the distributions of test takers’ scores will look more like normal distributions.

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