Taking The MCAT: What to Expect

What is it really like to take the most important exam of your pre-medical career?


So you’ve made the choice to go to medical school. You’ve completed your prerequisites and have logged plenty of clinical experiences. You have your letters of recommendation lined up and have practiced writing your name with “Dr.” in front of it. At this point, the only thing standing between you and a seat in next year’s incoming medical school class is the oft-dreaded MCAT. What is the big deal about this test, anyway? It’s just a test, right? If you’ve reached this part of your pre-med journey, you probably already know how important taking the MCAT is to medical school admissions. However, it’s still hard to gauge the test-taking experience without actually taking the test yourself. To help you out, here are

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5 things you can expect when test day comes:


  1. Content– The MCAT is now split up into 4 sections that test your proficiency in the natural and behavioral sciences and your ability to think critically and analytically across multiple, often complex, subject areas. In essence, you’re being tested on your ability to think like a physician.
  2. Format– The MCAT is a computer-based test (CBT) that is split up into the 4 content sections.
  3. Length– The test is 7.5 hrs long. This includes a 10-minute tutorial, two 10-minute breaks, and one 30-minute lunch. While the breaks and tutorial are optional, the total time you will have to answer questions is 6 hours and 15 minutes.
  4. Questions– The exam is completely multiple-choice. The 3 science-based sections have discrete and passage-based questions, while CARS has only passage-based questions.
  5. Score– Composite test scores can range from 472-528, with individual sections ranging from 118-132. Scores are typically released 30-35 days after taking the exam. Keep in mind that when you receive your score you will see a total of 5 numbers, one for each section and one for the test as a whole.


Taking The MCAT- Overview

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  • April

    April is a newly accepted medical student who is passionate about passing the torch to up-and-coming pre-meds who are navigating the MCAT and med school admissions. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Clark Atlanta University and master’s degree in interdisciplinary health sciences from Drexel University College of Medicine. She loves magazines, audiobooks, kid and teen TV, and everything beauty!

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