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What Is the MCAT?

Before applying to medical school, most aspiring doctors take the “MCAT.” But, what is the MCAT? In this article, we are going to take a deep dive into what you can expect while taking the exam, how much it costs to take it, and everything else you need to know. Let’s get started!

What is the MCAT?

The MCAT, or the Medical College Admissions Test, is the required admissions test for medical schools. It is used to help the admissions offices at the medical schools you are applying to further understand your capabilities in the areas of critical thinking, problem solving, and knowledge of natural, behavioral, and social sciences. 

How much does the MCAT cost?

The initial registration for the MCAT is $325. The cost of fee assistance program registration is $130. If you are an international student, the international fee is $125. 

There are also additional cancellation fees that increase depending on the time that you cancel. The most you would be paying for a cancellation fee is $200, and this is if you cancel between 10 to 29 days before the exam. 

For payments, the MCAT Registration System accepts American Express, VISA, and Mastercard. The payment is submitted immediately after submission of the application. 

There is also a Fee Assistance Program for students who, without financial assistance, would not otherwise be able to take the MCAT. 

Preparing for the MCAT

Fortunately, the Association of American Medical Colleges has prepared a great deal of materials that are helpful for students who are preparing to take the MCAT. The AAMC also offers a free full-length practice version of the MCAT. Keep reading to get an idea of what is covered on the exam. 

What is on the MCAT?

The MCAT has five sections, each with three to five foundational concepts that you can study for. The AAMC has a detailed list of the topics that students should study on their website. The five sections of the exam are:

  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
  • Scientific Inquiry and Reasoning Skills
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

How do I study for the MCAT?

The Association of American Medical Colleges has a step-by-step guide prepared for students on how to create a study plan, which is a great option– even if you think that you are great at studying already. 

They also have an entire resource page on how to study for the MCAT and free planning resources, which can help students to take free sample tests, practice exam features and learn about the online testing tools, and hear from real students on how they prepared for the MCAT. 

AAMC also offers discounts on preparation materials through their website, which offers low-cost bundles and much more. 

How is the MCAT scored?

The maximum score that you can receive on the MCAT is 528, but the average score is 500 total, with an individual score of 125 in each section. 

Wrong answered questions are scored exactly the same as unanswered questions, and they do not affect your score. You are scored on the number of questions that you answer correctly.

Final thoughts for students

Now that you know what to study for and what to expect from the test, it’s time to register! You can register for the MCAT with test dates January through September. It is best to register as early as possible so that you can make sure to have more than enough time to study and prepare. 

Additional resources

Applying for med school is a big process that involves a lot more than just taking the MCAT. Luckily, we have guides to help you through each step of the way. To start with financing, we have a guide on how to pay for med school that helps you take advantage of grants, scholarships, loans, and more. We also have a list of ways to attend med school for free and a list of med school scholarships.

Don’t forget to check out our guide to the necessary pre med classes, as well as a rundown of BS/MD programs. Finally, for students who did not achieve a particularly high GPA in undergrad, try out our description of how to get into med school with a low GPA. Happy studying!

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