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What is on the MCAT?

September 7, 2016, Posted In Medical School

Last spring the MCAT changed in significant ways, from subject matter to test length to scoring scale. The older version is no longer available. Here are some of the more notable changes:

  • More test topics and prerequisites with the current MCAT. There are three additional semesters’ worth of material: college-level biochemistry, introductory psychology and introductory sociology. This increases the number of prerequisite classes from eight to eleven. Passages will also place more emphasis on integrating topics, with general chemistry, physics, and biochemistry (for instance) all appearing within the same passage!
  • The new MCAT Is nearly double the length. There will be 230 questions over 6 hours and 15 minutes. Compared to the previous MCAT, the new test will require much more stamina and focus. The breakdown of these questions is 10 passages with 4 to 7 questions each and 15 stand-alone questions in each of the science sections, and 9 passages in the CARS section. (Information from AAMC Quarterly Update Meeting, May 2014)
  • Different scoring scale for the current MCAT. The MCAT has four sections that can be scored from 118 – 132, with a possible total score of 528. The average is expected to be 125 per section, totaling 500. (The previous MCAT consisted of three sections with 15 as the maximum – totaling 45.)
  • New question types and skills. The new MCAT not only focuses on content knowledge and critical thinking, but also additional skills: Research Design and Graphical Analysis & Data Interpretation. Research Design focuses on the preliminaries of research project creations, bias, faulty results, and variable relationships; Graphical Analysis & Data Interpretation focuses on extracting conclusions and analyzing interferences from visual data, including figures, graphs and data tables.
  • A medical approach. The current MCAT will contain passages that are restructured to test all of the natural sciences and biological systems, often referring to physiology or pathology. This new approach was created to encourage students to view these subjects as a practice of medicine. Not only are these subjects prerequisites for med school, but also a chance for students to practice more medical simulations that can be applied to the real world.

  • Changes in verbal reasoning. A new section called Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS) will include an in-depth focus on humanities and social science passages. Currently, this section has 53 items which will need to be finished in 90 minutes. 
  • Test dates and administration. Registration is now open with a cost of $305. This fee will cover the exam and the distribution of your scores. There are additional fees for late registration, changes to your registration and testing at international test sites.

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