About the MCAT

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a standardized, multiple-choice examination designed to assess problem solving, critical thinking, and writing skills in addition to knowledge of science concepts and principles necessary for the study of medicine. Medical college admission committees consider MCAT scores as part of their admission decision process.

The MCAT is required by almost all medical schools in the United States and Canada. The exam is administered several times a year, in January, April, May, June, July, August and September. Starting 2007, it is a computerized exam taking 4.5 hours and is composed of four sections, Physical Sciences, Verbal Reasoning, Biological Sciences, and Writing Sample.

The Physical Sciences section contains questions on physics and general chemistry. The Biological Sciences section contains questions on biology and organic chemistry. The verbal reasoning and writing sample are self-explanatory. All sections except the Writing Sample are in multiple choice format and are marked on a scale from 1 to 15. Raw scores on the Writing Sample are converted to a letter grade ranging from a low of J to a high of T.

Information and registration packages can be obtained from the counselling offices on most university campuses, or by contacting:

The MCAT Care Team
Association of American Medical Colleges
Section for Applicant Assessment Services
2450 N St., NW
Washington, DC 20037
E-mail: mcat@aamc.org
Telephone: (202) 828-0690

MCAT Schedule

Section Number of Questions Time Time per Question
Physical Sciences 52 70 mins 44 s
Break 10 mins
Verbal Reasoning 40 60 mins 1 min 20 s.
Break 10 mins
Biological Sciences 52 70 mins 44 s
Break 10 mins
Writing Sample 2 60 mins 30 mins
Survey 10 mins

Examinees will probably be required to arrive at the exam centre 30 minutes prior to the start of the exam. Since the test is computerized, scratch paper will be necessary but will be provided by the exam centre, as well as the pencils. These papers cannot be removed from the room. Examinees should bring an acceptable form of identification with signature, such as a valid and current driver's license or passport. Aside from the ID, examinees should bring NOTHING else. Watches are acceptable.

Scoring System

The MCAT is a "standardized" test. A standardized test is simply one that is sensitive to differences in capacity or aptitude in specific areas and not sensitive to other (extraneous) factors or attributes. The MCAT Physical Sciences section, for example, attempts to measure facility with introductory chemistry and physics without giving the examinee a "bonus" for calculus or advanced courses taken.

Your raw score is "scaled" to a curve of how the entire group of people taking the test performed (and in some cases, how everyone who took the exam over the past few years did). Thus, your final score is based not only on your individual performance, but on the performance of the testing group as a whole. Your MCAT score indicates how far above or below average your raw test score is. The computerized test is scored exactly the same as the paper tests were scored.

The Verbal Reasoning, Biological Sciences, and Physical Sciences sections are scored on a 1-15 scale with a target mean and standard deviation of 8 and 2.5, respectively. However, in practice the target mean and standard deviation are not met exactly, since scores are assigned to try to meet certain other criteria (e.g. a 15 corresponds to the 99.9th percentile, or there are as many 10+ scores as 1st year openings). Your results will be available online through the THX system.

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