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The MCAT
 

 

What
The MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) is a six-hour, computer-based, multiple-choice exam consisting of four sections (1):

1. Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems (67 Qs, 95 min)
2. Chemical and Physical Foundations of Living Systems (67 Qs, 95 min)
3. Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior (67 Qs, 95 min)
4. Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (60 Qs, 90 min)
 
Each section is separately graded and assigned a score between 1 (low) and 15 (high). A composite score for the four sections (with a maximum total of 60) will also be provided (2).

The exam’s exact price has yet to be determined; the AAMC only states that it will be more than $275.
 
When

There are more than thirty test dates from January through September. Although there are many dates, it can still be difficult to get your first choice location, date, and time, if you do not register well in advance (3). It is recommended that students register about three months in advance through the AAMC website. The registration opens about twelve weeks prior to the test date, and registration at least 60 days beforehand guarantees a seat at a site within 100 miles of your requested site (4).
 
 
How

The MCAT will test material that is mostly covered by core, introductory-level courses in biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, statistics, psychology, and sociology. Investing effort in taking these courses is one of the best and earliest ways to prepare for the exam.

Most students begin preparing seriously for the MCAT at least two months beforehand, allocating six to twelve weeks for intense study (5). Popular forms of studying include working from the ExamKracker books, listening to the Audio Osmosis program during commute or before going to sleep, watching the online Khan Academy videos, and taking online courses through Kaplan or the Princeton Review. Many students also attend in-person review sessions with test prep companies:

Company prep or not?

Cons:
Instructors are hit-or-miss, hard to improve verbal in big classes
Money
Not personalized, so time can be used inefficiently
Pros:
Provides structure, a timeline to study
Classes do help refresh the material
Textbooks and practice material are useful
 

Determining if you're ready to test
Consistently make your target score
Can't argue with your data
Confidence boost affects your outcomes
If you're not ready, don't test
 
Test day tips

Go with a friend if you can - stay calm and relaxed
Admittance into testing room is first come first served - show up earlier than AAMC suggests
Bring ID
Avoid pockets (they check each one → takes you longer in breaks)
Lockers to put stuff in, place to put snacks
Fingerprinting and wanding (metal detector) every time you come in and out of the room
Can ask for noise canceling headphones (they are uncomfortable though)
It's cold inside - wear long pants and a jacket


Moving on

Once you take the MCAT, you will receive your scores in approximately four weeks, or between thirty and thirty-five days (6). These scores are typically valid for between two and three years before matriculation (although this varies from school to school, so you should always check the most recent MSAR for individual school requirements).

Take it once! *Twice only if you need to
It is a lot of time and effort.
Most schools will see all of your scores.
It may well be that you are 1-2 points below your target score --- not the end of the world, not worth it to retake.


Works Cited

read more

  1. Prep 101
  2. AAMC
  3. Kaplan
  4. Cornell Health Careers
  5. Doctor Premed
  6. AAMC Releasing Scores
Resources


Stanford Premedical Association – The MCAT
This website answers many frequently asked questions about how to prepare for the MCAT, when to take it, and how medical schools interpret the score. In addition, it answers questions about how important the MCAT is in the admissions process overall.
MCAT Review Courses (Princeton Review and Kaplan)
Both of these review courses offer great material that will help in preparing for the MCAT. This material includes review books, practice tests, and real MCATs released by the AAMC.
MCAT Practice Online
If you register on this website, you can get access to 900 previously administered questions, comprehensive solutions, diagnostic score reports, and dozens of practice tests, sample essays, and an MCAT monitored bulletin board. You also have the opportunity to buy the most recently released official MCAT tests.
MCAT Prep
This is a great website that gives you access to free MCAT practice tests. In addition, you have the opportunity to buy MCAT videos and complete MCAT prep courses online. The website also connects you to the MCAT store where you can find many more resources about the MCAT.
MCAT General Information
This website offers a lot of information about when to the MCAT, how to study for the MCAT during your Freshmen, Sophomore, and Junior years, and what kind of information is in each of the three sections. Though it is a very concise website, it is very helpful.
MCAT Information
This website offers information about the format of the MCAT and how it is scored. It provides information about average, good, and top scores. In addition, the website gives information about how to prepare for the science and verbal sections, and how to write a good essay.
MCAT FAQs from Cornell University
This website answers many questions such as: when to take the MCAT, what the format of the test is, how the MCAT is scored, how the scores are reported, how to prepare for the MCAT, and how you know whether or not you should retake the MCAT. The answers given on the website are extremely clear and very helpful.
 
 

Contact PCPR

General Contact:
Vy Tran

Mailing Address:

Premedical Career Pathway Research 
PO Box 19456
Stanford, CA 94309 

Phone/Fax: 626-487-6797

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