Scratch Paper on the MCAT

Scratch paper on the MCAT may seem like a trivial point, but is actually a very important component to doing well. Unlike most standardized exams you may have taken up to this point, the MCAT is both computerized and also has some very stringent security measures. As a result, scratch paper on the MCAT also follows some very specific guidelines.

Do I Get Scratch Paper on the MCAT?

The good news is that yes, you do get scratch paper on the MCAT in the form of “noteboards,” or wet-erase pages with a fine-tip marker.The noteboard includes 9 single-sided note pages (8 inches by 14 inches), and you can see an example here.

Previously, MCAT test-takers received scratch paper booklets with actual paper. This changed in 2018 when Pearson Vue became the MCAT testing administrator.

You cannot bring anything into the testing area except for the key to your locker at the testing site and your official identification (a passport or driver’s license). You cannot bring any papers, even blank ones, into the test. You may only write on the noteboard that is provided to you, and you must turn in the noteboard once it fills up. If you use the entire noteboard, a testing administrator will bring you an entirely new one. The AAMC provides some additional guidelines for use of noteboards: you cannot bring it outside the testing room and cannot rip out any pages.

How to Use Scratch Paper on the MCAT

Although the noteboard rules are very stringent, you can still use the noteboard to your advantage during the MCAT. It might be worthwhile to write down some formulas or equations you have had trouble remembering in stressful situations on one of the pages to help remind you about what to use. During reading comprehension sections, you can write down notes about what the passage is about. Knowing what is offered on the MCAT can help you come up with a strategy on  how to best approach the exam and your time.

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  • Burton

    Burton is an MCAT blogger. He was an undergraduate at Harvard, where he majored in History before switching gears to pursue a career in medicine. He did a post-baccalaureate and is currently a fourth-year medical student at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University. He is applying for a combined residency in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics. Outside of things medical, he's a huge sports fan and loves football, basketball, and baseball.