Developed and administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a standardized, multiple-choice exam, used by the majority of U.S. medical schools and many Canadian schools as part of the admissions process. If you’re planning to undertake the exam, this MCAT Checklist will provide you with all the information you need for registering and preparing for the exam.
The following sections will support you to complete the checklist and ensure that you’re as prepared as possible for the MCAT exam.
The MCAT exam is designed to support medical schools’ selection process by providing prospective candidates with the opportunity to demonstrate that they have the knowledge and skills required for studying medicine. The exam assesses your problem solving and critical thinking skills, and knowledge of natural, behavioral and social science concepts and principles.
Your skills and knowledge are assessed across four sections of the MCAT exam, which are formatted as follows:
The Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems, Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems, and Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior sections assess your ability to combine scientific knowledge with scientific inquiry and reasoning skills. These sections of the MCAT exam require knowledge of general and organic chemistry, and introductory physics, biology, biochemistry, psychology and sociology.
The Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section, on the other hand, requires no specific subject knowledge. It assesses your comprehension, critical analysis and reasoning skills in relation to passages of information.
Knowing what to expect on the day of the exam can go a long way to calming your nerves and ensuring that you are focused on performing well during the exam, rather than details of what may happen or what’s expected of you. This video from the AAMC will give you an insight into what to expect at the test centre.
The standard start times for MCAT exams are 7:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. (local test-centre time). The following is an overview of the expected test day schedule provided by the AAMC:
You can also find more information about the test day rules, identification requirements, items allowed in the testing room and during breaks, and the MCAT test date noteboard booklet on the AAMC’s website here.
MCAT exams are delivered at Pearson VUE testing centres across the U.S. and Canada, and the following select locations throughout the world:
You can search for a test centre within the U.S. or Canada here.
The following are the upcoming MCAT test dates, booking deadlines and score release dates for U.S. testing centres:
Note: all deadlines are at 11:59 p.m. local test centre time and scores are released by 5:00 p.m. ET on the scheduled date.
You’ll find links for the MCAT dates, scheduling deadlines and score release dates for Canada, U.S. territories and international locations below:
For information on registration fees, cancellation fees, international fees and the fee assistance program, visit the MCAT Scheduling Fees section on the AAMC website.
Registration opened on April 21 & 22, 2021 for exam dates in July, August and September 2021; so you can register now if you intend to undertake the MCAT exam in 2021.
For future registration and test dates, continue to check the AAMC’s website.
Ensuring that you’re aware of the exam format, content and what will be assessed within each section, is the first step in preparing for the MCAT exam. The information provided above, along with our MCAT Guide and the AAMC’s ‘what’s on the MCAT exam?’, should provide you with all of the information you need to understand the requirements of the MCAT exam.
Our MCAT Guide also provides advice and resources for creating a study plan and familiarizing yourself with the exam features, which you may find useful during your MCAT preparations.
Once you understand the demands of the exam, making use of quality resources will support you to prepare for the MCAT as effectively as possible. The following are resources which you may considering using during your MCAT preparations:
If you’re interested in a MCAT book to supplement your revision, you’ll find a large selection available. Generally these books offer advice relating to the MCAT exam, as well as practice questions or tests, to help you to prepare. A MCAT book is not strictly necessary, however, it depends how you prefer to learn, and if you’d rather have a physical textbook than viewing information on a screen.
If you’re not fussy about having a physical book, then you’ll find lots of free information online, including on the AAMC’s website and the MCAT section of our website, where you’ll find our ‘MCAT Guide’, ‘What is a Good MCAT Score?’ and the ‘Differences between the MCAT and UCAT’ blogs.
You may also find using online practice questions and tests more useful than accessing these within a book, as they’ll have the added benefit of providing an experience similar to that of the computer-based MCAT exam; but again this may depend on how you prefer to learn, particularly in the early stages of your revision.
The use of practice questions and mock exams will greatly enhance your MCAT preparations. They provide the opportunity to become familiar with the types of questions you’ll be asked and practice developing responses to these. As well as testing your knowledge and skills, they’re a valuable resource for developing your ability to deal with the time pressures and demands of the MCAT exam.
Quality practice questions will also provide you with feedback so you can learn from your mistakes and identify gaps in your knowledge. To make the most effective use of practice questions, you should aim to utilise them in this way, identifying areas in which you need to improve. This will allow you to focus on those areas where you need to develop further, and therefore have a positive impact on your revision, and subsequently your MCAT performance.
Our artificial intelligence powered, adaptive question bank will support you to do just that. With state of the art algorithms, it automatically identifies areas which you need to improve and tailors questions and feedback to meet your learning needs. Unlike standard practice questions which are the same for everyone, our adaptive practice questions will ensure that you’re focusing on areas which you need to develop, making your MCAT preparations more efficient and effective, and helping you to progress your learning more. Look out for our adaptive question bank launching soon.
Finally, when preparing for the MCAT exam and carrying out practice questions and tests, you may find it useful to have a solid understanding of the MCAT scoring system and what you need to achieve to be successful. Our ‘What is a Good MCAT Score?’ has advice on how the MCAT is scored, including the scoring range and MCAT percentiles, and of course what is considered a good score in the MCAT.