Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a standardized examination for prospective students seeking places in United States medical schools.

The test consists of four sections:

Section Question Format Time Limit
Physical Sciences 52 multiple-choice 70 minutes
verbal reasoning 40 multiple-choice 60 minutes
Writing Sample 2 short essays 60 minutes
Biological Sciences 52 multiple-choice 70 minutes

 

Physical Sciences
This section assesses problem-solving ability in general chemistry and physics. It contains 7 passage-based sets of questions and 13 independent questions. Each passage-based set consists of four to seven questions. The questions, both passage-based and independent, evaluate your knowledge of basic physical and biological science concepts and your facility at problem solving using these concepts. They do not test your ability to memorise scientific facts.

Biological Sciences
This section evaluates these abilities in the areas of biology and organic chemistry. It contains 7 passage-based sets of questions and 13 independent questions. Each passage-based set consists of four to seven questions. The questions, both passage-based and independent, evaluate your knowledge of basic physical and biological science concepts and your facility at problem solving using these concepts. They do not test your ability to memorise scientific facts.

Verbal Reasoning
This section evaluates the ability to understand, evaluate, and apply information an arguments presented in prose style. It consists of seven passages, each of which is about
600 words long, taken from the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Each passage-based set consists of five to seven questions, assessing your ability to extrapolate information from the accompanying passage.

Writing Sample
This section consists of two 30-minute essays, each of which addresses specific topics that require an expository response and assesses skill in the following areas:

  • Developing a central idea,

  • Synthesizing concepts and ideas,

  • Presenting ideas cohesively and logically, and

  • Writing clearly, with the ability to follow accepted rules of grammar, syntax, and punctuation consistent with the level of a timed, first-draft composition.

The exam is offered 25 or more times per year at Prometric centers. The number of administrations may vary each year. The test may be offered either in the morning or in the afternoon and some test dates have both morning and afternoon administrations.

The scores you receive are scaled scores, ranging from 1 to 15 for the Verbal Reasoning, Physical Sciences and Biological Sciences sections, and from J to T for the Writing Sample. The average score is approximately an 8 on the three multiple-choice sections and an "O" on the Writing Sample. Students preparing for the exam are encouraged to try to balance their sub-scores; physical, verbal, and biological scores of 12, 13, and 11 respectively may be looked upon more favourably than 15, 13, and 8, even though both amount to the same composite score.

You may also be interested in reading background information on psychometric tests and aptitude tests.


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