The MCAT is a test of reading, knowledge, and thinking. In addition, and perhaps even most importantly, the MCAT is also a test of endurance. Preparing for the MCAT and taking the exam is a long and arduous journey. Knowing how long the MCAT and the MCAT day is can help mentally prepare you for the exam and hopefully let you perform at your highest level.
How Long is the MCAT?
The AAMC details the time breakdown for the MCAT in its MCAT Essentials publication. The exam itself contains six hours and 15 minutes of testing time. In addition to the testing time, there are eight minutes allotted for the examinee agreement, 10 minutes for the optional testing tutorial, 50 minutes of optional break times, five minutes for the void question at the end of the test, and five minutes for the optional satisfaction survey. This brings the total test day time to seven hours and 33 minutes, which is 95 minutes per section.
One might be tempted to skip the optional 50 minutes worth of breaks to cut down on the total length of the day. How you decide your test day should be entirely up to you, but I would recommend taking the breaks at the allotted times and taking as much of the break as possible. As mentioned before, the MCAT is a test of endurance. Having your brain focus and think for that long is nearly impossible and having those breaks will refresh you and give you an energy boost for the next section.
A table depicting the breakdown by section and breaks is shown below.
How Long is My MCAT Day?
These seven and a half hours do not include the check-in time when you arrive at the test center, the drive or commute to the test center, time to eat a healthy breakfast, time to shower, get dressed, etc. The MCAT day from the moment you wake up to when you walk out of the testing center can easily be at least nine or ten hours, depending how far you live from the test site and how long a morning routine you have. The MCAT day is not a day on which you can schedule multiple activities. It will essentially be a day where you go take the test, and go home to relax or celebrate a completion of an important milestone.