MCAT Overview: What is MCAT, and why is it important?

The Medical College Admission Test has been widely utilized as a medical school admission requirement for several years. Most medical schools in the United States and specific academies in Canada require MCAT test results. It is a type of standard examination composed of multiple choices and virtual-based tests as it helps evaluate the capabilities, skills, and knowledge of aspiring medical professionals. MCAT contributes to admissions officers in filtering the qualified prospective students in the applicant pool.

What’s the MCAT exam?

The MCAT is a requirement for the application process of most medical schools. It is a full-length exam that tests physical and biological science, writing competence, and effective verbal reasoning for a designated time of 7 ½ hours. It is administered as a computer based exam. The added section about the psychological, social, and biological basis of behavior is for assessing the examinee regarding the socio-cultural, biological, and psychological effects on the characterization of emotions, interaction, and processing of stress for an individual. The admissions office uses the MCAT as the foundation of one’s accomplishments in medical school. With that, prepare yourself thoroughly. (3)

What exactly is tested on the MCAT?

The MCAT examination evaluates not only the examiner’s knowledge of general chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, general biology, psychology, sociology, and physics, but also their reasoning abilities and critical analysis. It is focused on assessing critical reasoning abilities rather than understanding the context and interpretation or solving complicated problems. (4)

Who can take the MCAT?

Aspiring health professionals are the qualified examiners for the MCAT. It includes any health-related programs that accept MCAT results. Additionally, examiners enrolled in MBSS degree programs or those with a Bachelor of Medicine or Bachelor of Surgery degree. The test is also offered for international students. (5)

What are the MCAT test dates?

The following are the 2022 MCAT examination dates:

2022 MCAT Examination Dates in the U.S.

  • 14th of January
  • 15th of January
  • 20th of January
  • 21st of January
  • 12th of March
  • 25th of March
  • 8th of April
  • 9th of April
  • 29th of April
  • 30th of April
  • 13th of May
  • 14th of May
  • 19th of May
  • 27th of May
  • 4th of June
  • 17th of June
  • 18th of June
  • 24th of June
  • 25th of June
  • 30th of June
  • 16th of June
  • 29th of June
  • 5th of August
  • 20th of August
  • 26th of August
  • 27th of August
  • 1st of September
  • 2nd of September
  • 9th of September
  • 10th of September

2022 MCAT Examination Dates in Canada

  • 14th of January
  • 20th of January
  • 12th of March
  • 8th of April
  • 29th of April
  • 13th of May
  • 19th of May
  • 4th of June
  • 17th of June
  • 18th of June
  • 24th of June
  • 25th of June
  • 30th of June
  • 16th of July
  • 29th of July
  • 30th of July
  • 4th of August
  • 5th of August
  • 6th of August
  • 12th of August
  • 13th of August
  • 20th of August
  • 25th of August
  • 26th of August
  • 27th of August
  • 1st of September
  • 2nd of September
  • 3rd of September
  • 9th of September
  • 10th of September

The list above shows the testing dates for the MCAT for the year 2022. Keep in mind that either of the two MCAT testing sessions between the months of August and September will do. (5)

When is the best time to take the MCAT?

A year prior to the intended enrollment in the medical school. There are no academic prerequisites for taking the MCAT examination, and medical school applicants can take it as early as their freshman, sophomore, or undergraduate studies.

Where are the locations of MCAT testing centers?

The MCAT testing centers are located in the following areas:

  • Guam
  • US Virgin Islands
  • Puerto Rico
  • Australia
  • China (Hong Kong)
  • France
  • Germany
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Lebanon
  • Qatar
  • Singapore
  • South Africa
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • United Kingdom

The list above shows the different countries with MCAT testing center. Additional fee for international students is charged to those who are taking the exam outside the United States, Canada, Guam, US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico with the amount of $120. Benefits for the Canadian students, wherein they can apply for assistance through the Association of Faculties of Medicine in Canada (AFMC).

How Important is the MCAT Exam?

It is a vital step in the application procedures as a part of the entire process of entering medical school. A medium utilized for positioning aspiring medical professionals. Admission counselors appraised various characteristics about the applicant, involving academic competencies, subject to medical care and health research nature, personal encounters and interests, and the contributing capabilities to the institution and community, personal maturity, and striving to help others. With that, it becomes a tool for the medical school admissions committees to check if the applicant is capable of passing the preceding licensure examinations. (1)

How Important Is the MCAT During the Medical School Admissions Process?

It is the basis of the admissions to weigh their decisions and approve aspiring medical professional applicants. As medical schools intently foresee the entire application as a whole and the foundation of future medical professionals. Medical students must pass the minimum requirements to prove that they’re equipped and ready for medical field pressure and responsibilities.

What are the sections in MCAT?

The biological and biochemical foundations of living systems, chemical and physical foundations of biological systems, critical analysis and reasoning skills, and psychological, social, and biological foundations of behavior. (2)

What is the overview of MCAT sections?

Overview of MCAT sections

Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems

  • Total of 59 multiple-choice questions
  • Total of 95-minute in this section
  • Tests include basic biology, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, and biochemistry

Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems

  • Total of 59 multiple-choice questions
  • Total of 95-minute in this section
  • Tests include basic biochemistry, biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics

Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior

  • Total of 59 multiple-choice questions
  • Total of 95-minute in this section
  • Tests include introductory psychology, sociology, and biology

Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

  • Total of 53 multiple-choice questions
  • Total of 90-minute in this section
  • Standardized tests are similar to the reading comprehension test
  • Questions come from humanities and social sciences areas

The table above shows the test structure and content of the MCAT. The standardized test is identified as a seven-and-a-half-hour test that covers the four primary sections with designated questions of type, time taken, and field of expertise. (6)

How long is the MCAT?

Approximately 7.5 hours, which includes the actual content time of 6 hours and 15 minutes. The breaks are good for 50 minutes, and 25 minutes for the administrative task.

How much does the MCAT exam cost?

It costs $315, and $370 for the late registration, considering 1–2 weeks before your test date. There will be additional fees for the rescheduling and canceling of the entire exam. (3)

How many times can a test-taker take the MCAT?

Three times in a testing year and up to four times in a two-year period, and lastly, seven times in the examiner’s lifetime.

How do I register for the MCAT?

The registration process for the MCAT can be found below.

  1. Go online through the Association of American Medical Colleges and sign up.
  2. In October, students begin to register for January through May dates. And, June through September examination dates are open for February registration.
  3. The MCAT Program Office provided their contact number: 202-828-0690 for registration, scheduling, and location.

It is recommended that you register as early as possible to secure your MCAT examination test date and location. (2)

How is the MCAT exam scored?

It is based on the five results of the MCAT examination. The section scores range from 118 to 132, as examiners will receive each result for the four sections separately. The overall result of the four sections is added together as it ranges from 472 to 528. (1)

Is it important to get a good score on the MCAT?

Yes, a score of 127 out of 132 MCAT scores in one of the sections, or a total of 508 out of 528 in all four sections. This reflects the average score of the examiners being admitted to medical schools nationwide based on 2019 admissions.

What is a good MCAT score?

A percentile rank of 80th percentile was given to the sectional score of 127 out of 132 and the combined score of 509 out of 528 as the maximum or combined examination result.

How can I prepare for the MCAT?

The steps for preparing for the MCAT are as follows:

  1. Have enough knowledge about the examination.
  2. Check the outlined test structure of the MCAT exam.
  3. Determine your level of knowledge about the specific field.
  4. Compile free and low-cost official study materials.
  5. Take various practice questions.
  6. Compare the content information between the courses in each academy.
  7. Seek help from the pre-health advisors and faculties in your academy. If none, the National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions (NAAHP) has designated advisors to support you.
  8. Create your study plan and set a study schedule because it is an essential component in obtaining a competitive score.
  9. Study and practice thoroughly.

Aside from the MCAT preparation methods stated above, the best way to prepare for the examination is to organize a study plan. It can help you focus, organize, and keep track of your progress.

What are the test preparation study materials available for MCAT preparation?

The test preparation materials available for the MCAT are the following:

  • MCAT Complete 7-Book Subject Review
  • Princeton Review MCAT Subject Review
  • Barron’s Test Prep: MCAT with Online Tests
  • AAMC the Official Guide to the MCAT Exam
  • MCAT Prep Books 2021-2022 (Test Prep Books)
  • Examkrackers MCAT Complete Study Packages
  • Princeton Review MCAT Review
  • Blueprint MCAT Prep Review
  • Magoosh MCAT Prep Review
  • Kaplan MCAT Review

The list above includes MCAT preparation courses and books that help examinees be equipped and ready to ace the examination day. Some resources are free and low-cost. It is effective in practicing the probable test content of the MCAT. (7)

References:

  1. https://students-residents.aamc.org/choosing-medical-career/what-you-need-know-about-mcat-exam
  2. https://www.usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/top-medical-schools/articles/what-is-the-mcat-test-like-and-how-do-you-prepare-for-it
  3. https://www.usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/top-medical-schools/articles/what-is-the-mcat-test-like-and-how-do-you-prepare-for-it
  4. https://www.princetonreview.com/medical/mcat-information
  5. https://www.mcat-prep.com/mcat-preparation-advice/
  6. https://www.princetonreview.com/medical/mcat-sections
  7. https://www.bestcolleges.com/blog/best-mcat-prep-books/