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  • The MCAT in depth

  • Fran Iacovo

    June 10, 2021 at 3:46 pm
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    The MCAT is required by all of the USA medical schools, unless you are a member of a high school program with a direct linkage program. This exam will test you on undergraduate college level material of biology 1 and 2, biochemistry 1, general chemistry 1 and 2, organic chemistry 1 and 3, physics 1 and 2, basic psychology and sociology courses, and Critical analytical reasoning section (CARS).

    Link with more details on what you need to know for the MCAT subjects:

    Each subject has its own syllabus:

    When should I take the MCAT?

    Many people study for 3-6 months for this exam. However, it is important to understand the timeline of applying to medical school. Applications for medical school open up around May. There are 2 types of doctors in the USA, DO and MD. Both have separate application processes and slightly different timelines. Also, if you wish to study medicine in Texas they have a separate application as well.

    Here is the link to sign up for the exam:

    MD medical school application:

    DO medical school application:

    Texas medical schools application:

    How is the MCAT graded?

    No one truly understands the concept behind their grading because they do not officially release a statement that explains it. I will break down the official information that is released. There are 4 sections of the MCAT, each section has the ability to earn anywhere from 118-132 points. If you add up the score they have given you on each section can add up to a range of 472-528. You do not lose points for guessing on the MCAT so never leave an answer blank.

    Breakdown of the MCAT:

    Tutorial: You are given 10 minutes to be familiar with the interface of the test. However, many students use this time to write down all of the equations they memorized so they are there for easy access. You should be familiar with the interface prior to taking this test.

    Chem/Physics: 44/59 questions are passage based. 15 are stand alone questions. You will have 95 minutes to complete this section.

    10 minute optional break (make sure to account for handprint time).

    CARS: 53 questions, all are passage based. You will have 90 minutes to complete this section.

    30 minute optional break- You are now halfway through the test.

    Bio/Bcm: 44/59 questions are passage based. 15 are stand alone questions. You will have 95 minutes to complete this section.

    10 minute optional break (make sure to account for handprint time).

    Psych/Soc: 44/59 questions are passage based. 15 are stand alone questions. You will have 95 minutes to complete this section.

    Total test time is 7 hours and 33 minutes. Total seated time (if you chose to take this test with no breaks) is 6 hours and 15 minutes.

    Test day:

    You will be given an electronic periodic table, scratch paper to work with, ear plugs, and headphones. This test is taken at a Pearson Center on the computer. You will NOT be given a calculator. There are lockers with keys to place all your personal belongings. During your breaks you will be allowed to leave the test room. Every time you leave and enter you must get your handprint taken so make sure to account for this time during your breaks. If you go over your time during your break, the test will continue and you will lose that time.

    Summary of timeline:

    Medical schools open their applications around May and close in April. Schools have something called the rolling admissions process. This means the earlier you submit your application, the higher chance of being offered an interview. The MCAT takes between two weeks to one month to grade. During COVID it was 2 weeks, now it is back to one month. Taking the MCAT before May is crucial to your success because the application process is time consuming (you are required to put in hours and write a short summary of volunteering, work, research, and enter all your courses on the application). However, if you do take in June or July, which many people do, submit your application without your MCAT and upload it when you receive your score.

    I will be posting more in depth of the timeline and resources soon!

    Ari Horesh voted upKarthik Nandula voted upMANISH MULCHANDANI voted upRachel Samama voted up
  • Ari Horesh

    June 10, 2021 at 4:20 pm
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    Thank you, Francesca!

  • Karthik Nandula

    June 11, 2021 at 2:29 pm
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    This looks amazing Francesca! Well done! 👏


    June 12, 2021 at 6:17 pm
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    Thank you!

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