How Hard Is The MCAT? (The Truth)

How hard is the MCAT? How much will I have to study for the MCAT? Can I ace the MCAT? Since we've started tutoring for the MCAT, we’ve been asked these questions more often than we can remember!

In this article, we’ll be discussing a few points to consider when gauging the difficulty of the MCAT —this will better inform you of what you’re about to get into and prepare you to achieve a competitive score that you can feel confident with when applying to med-school 💪


Factors That Determine The Difficulty Of The MCAT

The difficulty of the MCAT varies from student to student. How hard the MCAT will be for you specifically, depends on:

→ Your level of familiarity with the content tested (Chem/OChem/Physics/BioChem/Psych/Soc)

→ The busyness of your schedule for the months you'll be preparing for the MCAT and your ability to manage priorities you may have (other than the MCAT)

→ Your critical thinking abilities, including how fast you can comprehend ideas from a variety of different writing/speaking styles

→ Your ability to simplify complex ideas and filter through jargon

Your overall comfort level with standardized tests

→ Your ability to learn from low practice exam scores and not get discouraged by them

→ Your physical and mental ability to focus at high efficiency for a 7 hour exam

→ Your ability to memorize information for the long term - at least 3 months in advance

→ If you will be trying to prepare alone, or have a mentor who's been through the process and scored well, guide you through the process

→ Your ability to adapt to new studying strategies that are needed for a med-school level exam like the MCAT (which is far different from any exam you're used to)

Recommended Courses To Have Taken Before Preparing For The MCAT

How familiar are you with the basic sciences? Do you need refresher because it's been a while or are you coming fresh out of relevant courses?  What are the courses? 

General Chemistry 1 and 2 (including laboratory)
Organic Chemistry 1 and 2 (including laboratory)
Physics 1 and 2 (including laboratory)
General Biology 1 and 2 (including laboratory)
Introduction to Psychology
Introduction to Sociology

What The MCAT Covers

There are many stories you might have heard from different people giving their different takes about the horrors from when they prepared and took the MCAT. 

Many are now MDs and DOs. Just as with most things, nothing ever comes easy, but preparing smart makes it more worthwhile when you achieve your goals.

The MCAT contains many questions. By many, we mean 230 questions spanning from different tests subjects which you may have encountered during undergrad.

The MCAT will cover the following areas of study: Biology, Chemistry (which include Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry, and General Chemistry), Sociology, Physics, Verbal Reasoning, and Psychology. The amount of content is a lot to take in but, if you are willing to go through the preparation, it is going to be worth it.

230 questions may not be a lot for an exam. However, the MCAT is not your usual college exam, which you could cram for and finish in less than an hour or two. In reality, the MCAT will take at least seven long hours.

The complexity of the questions also adds to the difficulty (and charm) of the MCAT. Reading comprehension plays a massive role in this exam; the MCAT may be a standardized exam, but MCAT questions are sometimes cunningly phrased by the AAMC, even though the answers may be simple.

How Hard Is The MCAT vs. How Hard Is It To Prepare For The MCAT?

Before asking how difficult the MCAT is, it's a smart idea to ask how difficult it is to prepare for MCAT?

Preparing for MCAT involves long hours of reading terms, recalling, and familiarizing yourself more with what you've learned in undergrad.

Your university years will be useful with the study habits you may have developed. It is also a process of unlearning the bad habits you developed and learning the good ones—you have to find one that works BEST for you, this will be your advantage in studying EFFICIENTLY.

Preparing for the MCAT requires (albeit, not explicitly) rigor—yes, this is another reminder that the test spans for at least seven long hours.

In the 2019-2020 MCAT, the acceptance rate was only nearly 41% (40.97% to be more precise). The 41% accounts for the 21,869 of the 53,371 applicants who applied for medical school. However, your GPA and the medical schools you signed up for effect whether you’re getting in or not.

You should remain hopeful and PREPARE. Having a clear vision of what you want to be in the future will motivate you further to have those books read, and notes flipped from front to back. Always have a (tangible) reminder of why you are doing this and for whom you are doing it. Having this reminder will keep you motivated and, in times of doubt, will be a constant reminder to keep going. 

Preparation for MCAT will vary from one person to another but, having a study group will be of great help if you want people around to keep you in check with how you are doing. If you prefer reviewing alone, make sure you take short (or long) breaks in between studying to help you retain information. Additionally, be well-rested, and keep snacks while reviewing within reach.

Answering MCAT questions requires critical thinking, analysis of facts present and reading comprehension. These traits are not easy to acquire. Therefore, one must practice these skills through available resources, whether online or in books.

Answering practice tests that have varying degrees of difficulties and types of questions will arm you in acing the MCAT as well as having the right mindset will bring you closer to your dream medical school.

With these reminders, MCAT will still be difficult if you fail to plot your review schedules. Planning is everything. You should have a calendar you can check from time to time and try to keep yourself veering from your plans.

How To Make MCAT Prep As Easy As Possible

This is our goal at MCAT Mastery. We don't want you to have to endure the pain that we went through when we studied for the MCAT.

There are more than 40 MCAT mentors on the team who scored well on the MCAT.

We've come together to offer a variety of resources to help you get through this journey as smoothly as possible. 

Here's a list:

👉 All the free blog articles here on our website

👉 YouTube channel and Instagram page

👉 Free emails with daily MCAT strategies from top MCAT scorers

👉 Free MCAT Mastery podcast episodes to listen to on your commute (listen to the success stories of top MCAT scorers)

👉 Our affordable complete self-paced MCAT strategy courses for every section/aspect of the MCAT exam

👉 Affordable 1:1 MCAT tutoring and coaching with any top MCAT scorer on our team

We highly recommend you take advantage of these resources as you prep for the most important exam of your career so far 👍🙂

You got this, 

The MCAT Mastery Team
Your MCAT Success Mentors


The MCAT Mastery Team

About The Author

We're a team of future doctors passionate about giving back and mentoring other future doctors! All mentors on the team are top MCAT scorers and we all are committed to seeing you succeed in achieving your physician dreams 🩺  To help you increase your MCAT score to the competitive mark quickly, we have collaboratively created these self-paced MCAT strategy courses and are also available for one-on-one tutoring!

You may like our other recent posts:

From 485-495 Plateau + 4 MCAT Attempts To 514 (1.5 Years Later!)

From 485-495 Plateau + 4 MCAT Attempts To 514 (1.5 Years Later!)

How Hard Is The MCAT? (The Truth)

How Hard Is The MCAT? (The Truth)
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