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Everything you need to know about the MCAT exam

Most medical schools also require applicants to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Let’s understand why it’s so important.

Getting into and selecting the right medical school is essential for anyone who is planning to make a career in the field of medicine. You must have completed certain pre-med level coursework in subjects such as chemistry and biology, among others, to be eligible for enrollment. At most medical schools an undergraduate degree is required as well. In addition to these required courses, most medical schools also require applicants to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Let’s understand why it’s so important.

What is the MCAT?

Developed by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the MCAT is a multiple-choice standardized, computer-based exam. If you plan to gain admission in a medical school in the USA or Canada, achieving a high score in this exam is crucial. Admissions committees largely evaluate your application based on academic criteria and a high MCAT score is another means to differentiate between applications. Doing well improves your chances of being accepted at your preferred school. At some universities, including St. Matthew’s University School of Medicine, acceptance is not based entirely on the MCAT exam, but it can be a positive contributing factor, if you do well, with the admissions committee.

What does the MCAT test?

The MCAT exam tests your skills and knowledge including critical analysis and reasoning skills. MCAT preparation requires sound knowledge on subjects like Physics, Organic Chemistry, Psychology, General Biology, Biochemistry and more.In addition to being fact based, scoring well lies in critical reasoning skills – simply stating facts will not result in scoring well, instead you must analyze the context in which a question is asked and provide an answer that is well reasoned. Students are awarded marks based on their ability to correctly apply information to solve problems.

MCAT subjects

The MCAT exam length is 6 hours and 15 minutes with a total of 230 questions. It has a total of 10 passages containing 4 – 7 questions and two separate sections – Science and the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Section (CARS) with 15 questions. The MCAT sections are all integrated and overlap each other in terms of information and application. The format is similar to how you will experience these subjects during your medical studies and the exam has 4 sections:

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

You can get more information on the score of each section here.

MCAT considerations

You should meet one of the following criteria:

  • You want to start a career in Allopathic, Osteopathic, Podiatric or Veterinary medicine.
  • You are from the USA or Canada and have an undergraduate certificate from an established institute.
  • You are an international student and are pursuing or have an MBBS degree.
  • You are not pursuing medicine – in which case you need permission from AAMC before taking the exam.

How to prepare for the MCAT

To prepare, you can get all the relevant study resources from the AAMC. The material is designed by test developers and is either free or available at a low cost. While the test prep material provides structure for the information covered, we advise you consult with pre-health advisors and other faculty at your university who can direct you on the right preparation. If you want to take mock MCAT practice exams, check out these sample questions.

The MCAT is offered multiple times throughout the year and you can take the online exam by registering here. Students should consider which medical school provides the characteristics that best meets their personal goals. While the curriculums can be similar the methodology of teaching and support can be dramatically different from one school to another. Size can be another differentiator. A well established medical school that is particularly well known for being smaller and more hands-on is St. Matthew’s University School of Medicine. The expert faculty are teachers first and encourage a conducive learning environment in state-of-the-art facilities. St. Matthew’s team of admission advisers are always willing to address all your queries and you can reach out to them via mail at or call on 800.498.9700 or 407.488.1700.

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