Have questions about the Medical College Admission Test that make you anxious to begin studying for your exam? This MCAT FAQ is for you!
The MCAT is old — like really old. To put it into perspective, the MCAT was created in the same decade that Amelia Earhart began her flying lessons and became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, meaning both the MCAT and Earhart came into prominence in the 1920s!
Despite being over a century old, the MCAT consistently presents the same questions every year involving its content, difficulty, and best study tips!
This comprehensive MCAT FAQ guide will address all of these inquiries, equipping you with the knowledge and confidence needed to feel fully prepared for your upcoming exam!
Here are the answers to your most pressing MCAT concerns!
The first three sections focus on “big ideas” in the sciences that reflect current research about the most effective ways for students to use and learn science. They emphasize deep knowledge of important scientific concepts rather than knowledge of discrete scientific facts.
There are a total of 230 questions on the MCAT; they are broken down as follows:
Every section, with the exception of the critical analysis and reasoning skills (CARS) one, will have 10 passages you will have to read and respond to. The CARS section will only have nine passages.
The MCAT consists of multiple-choice questions. Some of these questions will be passage-based, meaning you will have to interpret a passage and answer several questions about it. There will also be independent questions that do not require prior passage reading. These will typically ask you about specific content.
Many students dream of getting a perfect MCAT score, so they have the best odds of getting into their dream school and potentially landing a full-ride scholarship to pay for it. However, the chances of this are extremely low.
According to AAMC, to date, only about 0.020% of test-takers were able to receive a perfect MCAT score. While this shouldn’t discourage you from giving it your all to join this small percentage, you should set your target at a more attainable score!
Another common MCAT FAQ is the time you’ll have to complete so many questions. You will have seven and a half hours in total to complete the MCAT. This time includes your breaks and will be scheduled as follows:
All three breaks are optional but highly recommended considering the length of the exam!
Students take the MCAT at different stages of their pre-med journey. While some early birds complete their first MCAT after their freshman year of college, others wait till the last minute and write the MCAT while they’re applying to med school!
However, it is generally recommended students write the MCAT in their sophomore or junior year. This gives them enough time to prepare for the exam and retake it if necessary! You will have the option to write the MCAT several times each month, excluding February, starting from January till the end of September each year.
In general, since the MCAT requires diligent studying over a long period of time, it’s recommended students write the test during the summer of their sophomore or junior year. However, to determine the best time for you to write the MCAT, you should consider the following factors:
It’s essential you set your own schedule and timeline when it comes to the MCAT. You want to feel as prepared and confident as possible on test day!
Technically, you can register for any MCAT test as late as 10 days prior to it. However, tests fill up on a first-come, first-served basis, so you’re advised against waiting this long. Additionally, the rescheduling fee increases as the test date approaches. Here is how much you can expect to pay or get refunded when you reschedule or cancel a test:
Considering this, you should register for your MCAT as soon as possible!
Follow these steps to register for the MCAT:
You’re advised to register for your exam early in case you need to make any changes to your test date or location.
This is another highly popular MCAT FAQ, but the answer is not as simple as you might think! While it’s recommended you give yourself at least a few months to study for the MCAT, the exact time you’ll need to study will depend on multiple factors, including your baseline abilities, strengths, time commitments, application deadlines, and target score.
Generally speaking, the higher your target score, the more time you’ll need to study to achieve it. Many individuals start studying anywhere from three to six months prior to their planned exam date. This timeline provides a balance between adequate preparation and avoiding burnout from prolonged study periods.
The MCAT can be taken up to three times in a single year, up to four times in two consecutive years, and up to seven times in one’s lifetime.
While it may be reassuring to know you have seven attempts in total to get to your target score, you should still approach the exam with thorough preparation and aim for your target score on your first attempt.
Retaking the exam multiple times will be a time-consuming and costly process and can delay your application process. Invest adequate time and effort into your preparation to maximize your chances of nailing it on your first try!
What’s considered a good MCAT score varies depending on the schools you’re applying to. Considering the average MCAT score is 511, anything above this may be considered competitive.
However, top-ranking medical schools tend to accept students with scores of 515 and higher. Research the medical schools you’re interested in joining to figure out what their median MCAT scores are so you know what to set your target as!
Deciding whether to retake the MCAT can be a tough choice to make. To make this decision easier, consider these points:
Remember, retaking the MCAT requires additional time, effort, and financial resources. If you believe your score will weaken your application or prevent you from being a competitive applicant, and you have the time and energy to retake the test, then go for it! Otherwise, try to strengthen your application in other ways.
Generally speaking, most medical schools will not accept MCAT scores that are older than two to three years. While MCAT scores do not expire per se, they do become invalid after this time period, and you’ll be required to retake the exam.
Yes, all 230 questions on the MCAT will be multiple-choice.
There are designated test centers across the country that you can write the MCAT at. Using AAMC’s test center search, you can input your location and see which test centers are closest to you.
While you do not get scratch paper on the MCAT, you will be given a nine-page, graph-lined noteboard booklet to take any notes or perform calculations. If you run out of space on this notebook, you can ask the test administrator for another.
Considering Inspira Advantage’s MCAT tutors guarantee they’ll help increase your score by at least 10 points, we’d say MCAT tutoring is definitely worthwhile! Here are just some of the reasons you should hire an MCAT tutor:
As you consider an MCAT tutor, know that it can get costly! Consider your budget as you make this choice, and know that you will have a significant return on this investment because it’ll help get you into med school!
The answers to this last MCAT FAQ are rather simple. There are only a few items you should bring to the MCAT on test day: a valid ID, food, and water. That’s it! It is a computerized test, so no need for pens, pencils, highlighters, or erasers.
Everything you need to complete the test, including the noteboard and marker, will be provided to you by the test administrators.
Please note you will not be able to consume your food or water during the actual testing periods. These will need to stay in your locker until you’re dismissed for a break.
Hopefully, after going through the MCAT FAQ, you feel more prepared and confident to begin your MCAT journey! Remember, as challenging as the MCAT may be, with proper planning, dedication, and a strong study schedule, you can overcome any obstacles that come your way!
Take advantage of the resources available to you, like expert MCAT tutors, stay motivated, and believe in your ability to succeed! You’ve got this!