The MCAT (Medical College Admission Test): Everything You Need to Know

The MCAT is a standardized, computer-based, multiple-choice American entrance evaluation for potential medical students. This test is overseen by the Nonprofit Association of American Medical Colleges. The major assessments are the prospective applicant’s writing skills, verbal reasoning, biological and physical sciences knowledge base.

For over 90 years, the MCAT has been an integral part of the medical school admissions process. Every year, this test is taken by more than 85,000 students. Almost all US-based medical schools and several in Canada need MCAT scores, as do several graduate programs and health profession schools, which now accept MCAT scores instead of other standardized tests. The MCAT examines test-takers on the knowledge and skills that physicians, medical educators, medical students, and residents have classified as the main preconditions for succeeding in medical school and while practicing medicine. The MCAT can be taken multiple times annually, from late January through September. Apart from hundreds of test sites throughout the U.S. and Canada, it’s also administered at select locations worldwide.

The MCAT consists of four sections, namely:

·         Living Systems’ Biochemical and Biological Foundations

·         Biological, Social, and Psychological Foundations of Behavior

·         Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

·         Biological Systems’ Physical and Chemical Foundations

Students should take the MCAT when they’re fully prepared. They need to ensure they’re comfortable with the content and skills this exam tests them for, which are usually covered in introductory-level science courses. Students can use resources available at the “What’s on the MCAT Exam?” tool to make sure they have covered all the topics and skills tested in this examination. 

Most test-takers sit for the MCAT in the calendar year preceding the year they plan to enter medical school. Before a student selects an exam date, they should consider the probability of retaking the exam and their level of understanding of the content. For instance, if a student plans to get enrolled in a summer science course that could help him with the MCAT exam, it may be best to sit for the MCAT later that summer. Students should also remember that there are testing limits, namely three times in a calendar year, four times over two years, and seven over the course of one’s lifetime, and medical schools will notice all of their scores. This makes it important to take the MCAT only when the student is fully prepared and confident of doing justice to the best of their capability.

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