Part One: MCAT Basics
What is the MCAT?
The MCAT is the Medical College Admission Test. It’s the “big deal” standardized test you have to pass before you can be considered for admission into medical school. It’s kind-of-like the SAT for medical college admissions.
Who runs the MCAT?
The MCAT is administered by an organization called the Association of American Medical Colleges (the AAMC).
How is the MCAT scored?
The MCAT is scored on a 3-to-45 point scale,. The part of the test scored via the number is broken into three sections, which are the Physical Sciences, Biological Sciences and Verbal Reasoning sections.
What is the average MCAT score?
Since the MCAT is a standardized test, the AAMC wants to produce an exam that can be compared between students, and between test administrations. In other words, the goal of the MCAT is to be a consistent measure of your capability, regardless of when you take it.
The average MCAT score is 8-8-8, or a 24. My article on how to get your highest MCAT score.
What topics are covered in the MCAT?
The MCAT includes topics taught during the following college courses: general biology, general (inorganic) chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics. Physiology and some biochemistry is also tested.
Within the Verbal Reasoning section of the MCAT, a wide range of topics are utilized as reading material for the test questions. The topics may include English literature, anthropology, psychology, social sciences and political science.
What are the MCAT test dates?
The MCAT is delivered approximately 28 times per year.
How Do I Register for the MCAT?
Register for the MCAT on the MCAT website.
Onto Part Two, below.
Part Two: MCAT Preparation
Where Can I Find Free Practice Tests for the MCAT?
You can obtain a free practice MCAT directly from the AAMC. Go to the link and then enter your email in the upper-right-hand side to access. Princeton Review offers a free online practice MCAT. Go to this page and enter your ZIP code to get access.
What are some Great MCAT Books?
There are a number of excellent books to help you with MCAT prep and review. Here are some of the most popular:
Princeton Review’s Guide to Cracking the MCAT 2012-2013 (I am a contributor to this one.)
Examkrackers has a well-respected package of their own
And of course, you have to consider Kaplan’s book, too.
I also wrote my own course on advanced test-taking tactics, which you can get on this site. Get my “Tactical Nuclear Test-Taking Techniques” now.
How Should I Study for the MCAT? Can You Give Me An MCAT Study Schedule or Study Plan?
Yes. Broadly, you want to start studying for the MCAT a good six months before you take it. For the typical pre-med, if you want to take the MCAT in April or May, then you want to start to prepare six months before that — October.
Why six months? Mostly because you need a good solid three months to practice, and another three months to fit in review of the topics you’re rusty in. Honestly, you’re a full-time student, or you work full time, and trying to jam MCAT prep into your life is going to take some getting used to.
Set yourself up for success — give yourself a nice six months to go at the MCAT, nice and consistently, and you’ll end up much better off than trying to cram everything into your brain in less than two months.
What Else Should I Know About the MCAT?
First, AAMC will do away with the writing sample section of the MCAT in 2013. They are removing this section in part to make room to test some questions and prepare for the new format and new content of the exam that will come out in 2015. You can volunteer to take an trial section to help AAMC design new questions for the revised test. (They’ll give you a $30 Amazon gift card for your trouble. Not bad.)
So this gives you a good overview of everything MCAT. If you have additional questions about the test, feel free to leave them below.