The MCAT, or Medical College Admissions Test is an exam offered by the Association of American Medical Colleges. The test is designed to give medical schools an indication of a student’s knowledge and ability. In the end, the exam should indicate the ability of any given medical student to complete medical school. The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is available to students applying to allopathic and osteopathic medical schools in the United States. The exam is administered several times a year at various locations in the U.S.
About the MCAT
Get information on how the prepare for the MCAT. Nearly every medical school in the U.S. and Canada require applicants to take the exam and submit MCAT exam scores. Many medical schools will not accept MCAT exam scores that are more than three years old.
There is many who believe that studying information is of the utmost importance on the MCAT. However, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the exam is designed to test the problem-solving ability of students – not the memorization of equations or basic science knowledge.
Cost of the MCAT
The cost of the MCAT for the 2013 application cycle is $270.00. This fee only includes registration. There are additional fees for premedical students who register late ($75.00), students who change their test date ($90.00), and students who change the location to take the test. ($90.00)
Additional MCAT Costs
In addition to fees for the exam, there are also extra costs involved. These costs include:
- Traveling Costs. The MCAT exam is not offered at all locations. This causes some students to travel to other cities to sit for the exam – sometimes hours away.
- Studying Materials. Many students supplement the knowledge learned in undergraduate courses with study guides and other materials from retail publishers. These study materials cost as little as $50.00 for some books, up to thousands of dollars for courses.
- Time. For students that work while completing their undergraduate education, time-off costs money. Instead of working to pay for necessities, students may need time to study and time to take the exam.
MCAT Fee Assistance Program
The AAMC currently offers the Fee Assistance Program (FAP). The FAP aids individuals with “extreme financial limitations who otherwise could not take the exam.” For the 2013 testing year, the program reduces the regular registration fee for eligible individuals to $100. This fee is greater than the registration fee from 2012, which was only $80.00.
For the 2013 calendar year, applicants whose 2012 total family income is 300 percent or less of the 2012 poverty level for their family size will be approved for fee assistance.
To apply for the Fee Assistance Program, testers must submit financial documentation through the AAMC FAP Website. The information should include the financial specifics of the student as well as the student’s parents/guardians.
The Fee Assistance Program is not retroactive, and fees are not reimbursable. Students who have paid an MCAT fee before being approved for the FAP will not receive a refund.
Sections of the MCAT
The 2013 MCAT consists of four sections:
- Physical Sciences. General Chemistry and Physics.
- Biological Sciences. General Biology, Organic Chemistry, Anatomy & Physiology, and Genetics.
- Verbal Reasoning. Passages and questions to determine one’s ability to read and understand underlying meanings.
- Trial Section (Optional). A voluntary section that fields questions for a future version of the MCAT exam.
The MCAT exam in 2015 will be somewhat different than the MCAT from previous years. The AAMC suggests that anyone who will apply to medical school in 2016 should consider taking this exam. According to the AAMC, the 2015 MCAT exam changes should reflect the changes in modern medicine and medical education.
The only addition to the 2015 MCAT will be a new “Social and Behavioral Sciences” sections. The new section is intended to highlight the importance of socio-cultural and behavioral factors in medical practice. The new “Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills” section appears to be an adaption of the current Verbal Reasoning section of the exam. Allegedly, the section will be adapted to reflect a medical school preference for well-rounded applicants.
Generally, the new MCAT for 2015 appears to merely tailor the content from previous exams to introduce more current topics of today’s health care needs. The AAMC has released a MCAT 2015 Preview which gives an in-depth look at the new additions and changes to the test.
MCAT Question Types
There are four types of questions on each of the 3 sections of the MCAT exam:
- Information presentation.
- Problem solving.
- Research study.
- Persuasive argument.
MCAT Eligibility Requirements
The requirements for taking the MCAT exam are simply to maintain an effort in attending a health professions school. The type of schools which may require applicants to take the MCAT include:
- Allopathic Schools of Medicine (MD)
- Osteopathic Medical Schools
- Schools of Podiatric Medicine
- Schools of Veterinary Medicine
How many times can I take the MCAT?
Medical school applicants can take the MCAT as many as 3 times in one application cycle / application year. Even still, you can only be registered for one test at any given time. For example, if you are registered to take the MCAT in May, you cannot register for the June exam until after you’ve taken the May exam.
After taking the exam, premeds will usually receive their scores within 6-8 weeks. The 6 – 8 week time frame is tentative, however, scores are scheduled to be released at 5 p.m. on the specified date. The AAMC annually posts a registration and score release deadlines page that lists the information. The AAMC website also lists registration deadlines for early and late registration as well as deadlines for cancelations.
The maximum score on the MCAT is a 45; 15 points for each section of the exam. The three sections of the exam are Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences, and Verbal Reasoning.
The MCAT raw scores are determined using a scale and generally produce a normal distribution. Rarely do premedical students score the maximum and rarely do they score a 1.