This time last year I was just a few days out from taking one of the hardest tests I have ever had to take: the dreaded MCAT. I created this series to make you feel more comfortable about taking the MCAT, but also provide you with tools I wish I knew while studying for it the first time. The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is one of the factors used by medical schools to compare prospective students. This exam is broken down into four different sections: Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems, Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills, Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems, and Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Systems.
In order to sign up for the MCAT, please visit the American Association of American Medical Colleges. You must create an account with the AAMC. Be sure to keep this account information as you will need it to view and send your MCAT scores to medical schools. The MCAT costs $315, but there are additional fees for late registration or postponing. Scheduling the MCAT 1-2 weeks before will cost $370. The AAMC uses “zones” in order to postpone exams. There are three zones: Gold Zone, Silver Zone, and Bronze Zone. I have created a chart below to help you understand the different zones. The AAMC also has a Fee Assistance Program for those who are eligible.
I would advise to schedule your MCAT at least 2 months in advance. This will allow you to choose your location preference. The first time I took the exam, I was placed in a location approximately 1 hour from my house. I had to book a hotel, figure out transportation, and also deal with the anxiety that I was taking the MCAT the next day. The second time I took the exam, I booked 2 months in advance and successfully got a location 10 minutes from my house. BOOK EARLY!
One of the hardest parts of the MCAT is the duration. To put it into perspective, the MCAT is like running a marathon. You must build stamina in order to complete the race successfully. The total testing time for the test is 6 hours and 15 minutes, but the total seat time is approximately 7 hours and 30 minutes. The following is a chart of how test day will look.
The very last part of the MCAT involves choosing between scoring and voiding the test. Voiding the test means the exam will not be scored and medical schools will not see your scores at all. Now the caveat is that you can only take the MCAT 3 times per year with a lifetime max of 7 times. The voided exam WILL STILL COUNT as one of your attempts.
Tips for Test Day:
- bring a valid ID
- arrive 30 minutes prior to exam start time
- utilize the optional tutorial section (10 minutes) to write down any mnemonics, physics equations, and more
- monitor the time during breaks as the security process to exit and re-enter the testing room during breaks can take longer than the allotted time
- bring food and drinks that won’t upset your stomach
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If you have any question regarding the MCAT, please feel free to reach out to me or comment below!