Guide for Applicants: MCAT Test-Taking Guide
The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a computer-based test currently given 22 times a year, and it is required by both medical and osteopathic schools. (It can often be used lieu of the GRE for public health programs too. Be sure to check individual program.) It covers the material of all required sciences courses in biology, chemistry, and physics, so the required course work in these areas should be completed before you take the exam. Test-takers presently receive their scores within 30 days of the examination.
Testing Dates & Sites
The optimal time to take the test is in the spring or very early summer of the application year. September is the absolute latest for taking the MCAT in an application cycle and may have a negative impact on admission at schools that function with rolling admission. (For information about which schools do or do not accept September scores, go to: http://www.aamc.org/students/mcat/sept2007acceptance.htm.) It is generally not recommended to take the test that late in the cycle. Scores are typically valid for two to three years, depending on the school.
For dates for the 2011 administration of the MCAT go to: https://www.aamc.org/students/download/140172/data/2011_mcat_exam_schedule.pdf
For testing sites go to: http:/services.aamc.org/20/mcat/sitelisting
Before you register for the MCAT be sure to read: http://www.aamc.org/students/mcat/mcatessentials.pdf.
Content & Scoring
The MCAT includes multiple choice sections on Verbal Reasoning, Physical Sciences test based on physics and general chemistry; and Biological Sciences (see http://www.aamc.org/students/applying/mcat/preparing). There are also two essays required for a Writing Sample. Each multiple choice section is graded on a 15 point scale from 1 (low) to 15 (high) and the Writing sample is graded on an alphabetical scale from J (low) to T (high). The national average for the MCAT for the 2007 entering class to medical school was 30.8 out of 45. The average MCAT for Haverford applicants accepted to medical school in 2008 was 32.6154. Students who receive less than a 30 on their MCAT should consider retaking the test.
For information on the content of the test, go to: http://www.aamc.org/students/applying/mcat/preparing
There are commercial review courses to prepare students for the MCAT. They are listed below. These are very expensive (from about $1200 to $4000 for private tutoring). They are designed for 5- or 10- week periods, but are only successful for those who put in the time to do the assigned work. It is important to attend all their classes and to visit their "Test Center" as often as possible to work on practice tests and review correct answers.
The American Association of Medical Colleges also provides materials for MCAT preparation.
- MCAT Essentials (online, free at https://www.aamc.org/students/download/63060/data/mcatessentials.pdf) contains all the information for registration, what to bring, whom to contact, how to obtain and send scores, and the basic design of the exam.
- MCAT Discussion Board (online, free). If you enroll in either of the AAMC's free or paid MCAT practice tests, you are allowed to participate in this discussion board which covers general topics, test content, and web resources for the MCAT.
- MCAT PRACTICE TEST (Online, free). Accessed through the MCAT "Practice Tests" webpage, the test requires free online registration before you can use it. It contains questions used on recent MCATs that can be taken timed, and provides feedback. Even without signing up for the entire free practice test, you can see representative questions at "MCAT sample" on the MCAT homepage.
- MCAT PRACTICE TESTS ONLINE (for a $35.00 cost) Provides updated versions of the test and automated scoring and diagnostic reports to help you focus your studying. Go to: http://www.aamc.org/students/mcat/practicetests.htm
Princeton Review http://www.princetonreview.com/home.asp
Berkeley Review http://www.berkeley-review.com/
MCAT - Overview http://www.mcatprepinfo.com/
Next Step Test Preparation http://nextsteptestprep.com/
For free MCAT study support materials and study tips, check out: Study Guide Zone http://www.studyguidezone.com/
You may access one free MCAT test on-line, and buy other practice tests from MCAT. Go to: www.aamc.org/students/applying/mcat/preparing/85158/orderingpracticetests_mcat.html (or www.e-mcat.com) PT 3 is free; PTs 4-10 cost $35 each)
You may also go to PROMETRIC to check out what the on-line test will actually be like. A demo test is provided. Go to: http://www.prometric.com/demos/mcat/index.htm