The Medical College Admission Test, or MCAT, is a test developed by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) for the sole purpose in helping determine admissions to medical school. All United States medical schools require the MCAT for admission and application to their programs. The MCAT helps medical school admissions committees determine, in part, which applicants will be successful in a medical school curriculum. The MCAT tests several things, including critical thinking, problem solving, writing skills, and the knowledge of science concepts in the physical and biological sciences.
The MCAT is a computer based test that is given by Thomson Prometric at various testing centers. The test is given 22 times a year, and test dates as well as specific test center locations can be found online on the AAMC website. Registration for the MCAT can be completed only online on the AAMC website, and registration opens up about six months before the testing dates Registration deadlines can also be found online When registering for the MCAT, all necessary fees must be paid as well. Detailed fee schedules and accepted fee payment forms can be found in the MCAT Essentials document found online on the AAMC website. It is recommended to register early because testing dates and test centers may fill up. Registering early can help make sure that one gets the desired test center and test date. It is recommended to take the MCAT about 18 months prior to when one desires to enter medical school.
The MCAT consists of four different test sections. These sections are physical science (inorganic chemistry and physics), verbal reasoning, writing sample, and biological science (biology and organic chemistry). The physical science, verbal reasoning, and biological science sections consist of multiple choice questions. There are 77 questions in the physical science section; 60 questions in the verbal reasoning section; and 77 questions in the biological science section. The physical science and biological science sections each contain several problem sets (usually between 10 and 11 problem sets per section) that are about 250 words long in length. These problem sets each deal with a specific problem or situation. After each problem set, there are between four and eight multiple choice questions that pertain to that problem set.
In addition, there are about 15 additional questions that are independent of any of the passages. The verbal reasoning section contains several passages that are between 450 and 600 words in length. These passages deal with social sciences, humanities, or natural sciences that are not covered in the physical science or biological science sections of the MCAT. Each passage has between five and ten accompanying questions. All three of the multiple choice sections can also contain experimental test items, which are not identified, and do not count towards the overall test score. Test takers are given 100 minutes to complete the physical science section, 100 minutes to complete the biological science section, and 85 minutes to complete the verbal reasoning section. The writing sample section is composed of two essays. This section tests the ability to develop a central theme, the ability to synthesize ideas and concepts and present them in a logical fashion, and the ability to write clearly. Test takers are given 60 minutes to complete both writing samples.
For the MCAT, four scores are reported; one score for each section of the test. For the three multiple choice sections, physical science, verbal reasoning, and biological science, a raw score for each section is first calculated. The raw score is simply the total number of questions answered correctly. There is no penalty for any incorrect answers. These three raw scores are then converted into scaled scores. These scaled scores take into account differences in difficulty among different test versions. The scaled scores for each section range from one (low) to fifteen (high). The writing samples are each scored by a group of trained readers. Two readers score the first sample, and two readers score the second sample. The raw score is the sum of the four individual scores. The score for each essay ranges from one (low) to six (high). The total raw score is then converted to an alphabetic scaled score ranging from J (low) to T (high).
Last Updated: 09/18/2014