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The Road to the MCAT

Registering and abiding by the policies set forth by the AAMC in order to take the MCAT is not necessarily a walk in the park. There are a variety of things you must consider when preparing to take the MCAT.

The first question many people ask is, “when should I take the MCAT?” The general guideline is to take the MCAT the year before you plan to enter medical school. For example, the class of 2013 should take the MCAT sometime before or during the summer of 2012. Your basic science coursework should be complete by this point.

You should decide on a date you want to take the MCAT early on to avoid dealing with limited capacity at test centers and to setup a daily study plan. More information about available dates and locations can be found on the AAMC’s website.

The registration fee for the MCAT is $225, which includes the cost of administration of the exam as well as distribution of your scores to the schools of your choosing. There is a $55 fee for each of the following: late registration, date change, and change of test center. There is a financial aid program (AAMC Fee Assistance Program) available however to assist individuals with financial limitations by decreasing the registration fee to $85.

Accommodated testing is an area frequently looked over in the MCAT. There are many restrictions and something as simple as bringing some candy to keep blood sugar up must be approved. Other normal items such as inhalers and insulin pumps must be approved as well. The four main areas include: learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD, psychiatric disabilities, and physical disabilities. Be sure to apply for accommodation early as it may take up to 60 days for the AAMC to process your request.

What Is The MCAT?

What is the MCAT?The Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) is a test administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). The test is designed to test your knowledge in four specific categories; physical sciences such as physics and chemistry (organic and inorganic), biological sciences, verbal reasoning, and a writing sample.

The MCAT is designed to test students on their knowledge and reasoning skills. While many believe taking higher-level science courses would enhance their MCAT scores, the truth is that the test does not cover anything more advanced than entry-level classes; non-science majors tend to do as well on the MCAT as their science major counterparts. This is due to the exam testing your reasoning skills and problem-solving capacity: critical attributes to be a successful physician.

The MCAT is computer based and lasts just over five hours. The test contains:

  • Two 70-minute sections:  testing physical and biological sciences.
  • One 60-minute section:  testing verbal reasoning
  • One 60-minute section: two 30-minute essays.

Fun Fact: In 2015, the MCAT will be changed to include a social and behavioral science section.