How Long Is The MCAT Exam? Plus Other Key MCAT Timing Information

In this detailed post, we'll cover everything you need to know about the length of the MCAT exam, the exact start and end times, the length of each section, the total length of the entire MCAT day, tips on timing, and a lot more. 

Part of the planning and preparation for the MCAT is knowing the length of the exam, how much time you’ll be allotted for breaks, and how long you are going to be in the testing center.

Remember that it is an extensive exam composed of 230 multiple-choice questions, so prepare to be in your testing area for a full day.

Before the examination, you will need to sign in and present your valid ID, have your fingerprints validated and corrected, and have your test day photo taken.


How Long Is The MCAT With/Without Breaks?

In total, the MCAT takes seven and a half hours, factoring in the 50 minutes of optional break times, eight minutes of time allotment for the examinee agreement, 10 minutes for the optional testing tutorial, five minutes for the void question at the end of the test, and five minutes for the optional satisfaction survey.

However, without factoring in these breaks the MCAT is approximately six hours and 15 minutes in total seating test time.

However you would like to take the exam is up to you, but it is equally important to pace things out by taking little breaks in between in order for your brain not to get too exhausted.

What Time Does The MCAT Start and End?

The official start of the MCAT test is at 8:00 a.m. This all depends, though, on how fast you go through the preliminary check-in and validation process. Make sure that you don’t set any appointments other than the MCAT exam on the day of your test date. Again, the MCAT is a very extensive exam that will use up much of your brain power and energy, so keep that in mind.

Generally, test facilitators still need to do some preliminary check-ins and validations before you can begin to sit in the testing area. Test facilitators might need to check your identity first, scan your palms, use metal detectors on test-takers to prevent risks of cheating. To be on the safer side, the MCAT exams usually begin at around 7:45 and 8:15 a.m.

If you start at exactly 8:00 a.m., the MCAT test will end at around 3:30 or 4:00 p.m. This all depends on whether you take your breaks or cut them short to proceed to the next test section right away.

How Long is Each Section of the MCAT?

The MCAT has four sections. Every section of the test takes approximately 95 minutes and should be taken smartly and with precaution.

Here is the breakdown of the sections of the MCAT.

  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems (95 minutes)
  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems (95 minutes)
  • Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior (95 minutes)
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (90 minutes)

Make those minutes count!

How Long is the Total MCAT Day?

Factoring in your morning breakfast, your preparations before leaving the house, the drive to the test center and back, the total MCAT day could take eight to nine hours.

The exam proper itself is seven and a half hours, that’s without your drive to and from the test center. When taking the MCAT, expect your full day to be spent and don’t schedule any activity or appointment within or after those MCAT hours. It’s an extensive and grueling exam, after all.

Timing & Pacing Tips for the MCAT

Taking a seven-hour test is incredibly taxing, even for the best test-takers around the world. It’s important to know how exactly the seven-hour test is going to feel in your mind and in your body. The best way to understand this is by taking multiple practice-tests and figuring out your own test-taking rhythm.

A good practice-test environment is one that simulates the actual MCAT testing room environment. Start at 8 a.m. and role play for the rest of the day. When you’re well-versed in your practice-tests, you’ll know exactly your own pacing when reading test questions or answering them or how much time to spend on each question and when to move on to the next item.

If you're interested in getting more MCAT timing tips, make sure to check out this post where we cover 4 timing strategies used by 90+ percentile MCAT scorers.

How To Prepare for the Longest Exam You've Ever Written

Future doctors everywhere are aiming to excel on the MCAT every year. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), almost 80, 000 aspiring medical professionals are taking the standardized, multiple choice test every year. Yet only ~21,000 students receive admission into medical school every year.

It's a competitive journey which is tells you that writing a seven-hour examination isn’t for the weak! It requires concentration, stamina, pacing, and a level of preparation that many students are not used to. This leads to a lot of anxiety and stress, which are the last things you need to be feeling.

The number one mistake most students make is not treating the MCAT like a marathon - instead, trying to sprint through all the material like they were studying for a normal college exam.

The question top scorers ask themselves is, "How do I prepare for a marathon?" 

You train, but in a specific way. You get the training methods of those before you, who clearly completed the marathon with impressive results - those are the people who's training methods you want to emulate. Those who scored well. Those who are in med-school. Which is why we constantly interview and research the MCAT training/prep methods of 90+ percentile scorers. We've been doing it for years.

Today we have a bullet-proof system, a blueprint, that has helped thousands of students run the MCAT marathon with a lot of success. You can access that here

At the same time, we also train students one-on-one, as their MCAT marathon coaches/mentors, helping them develop the right approach, the right mindset, the effective strategies, the optimal MCAT study plan, and so much more. After all, we've all ran the marathon ourselves 😛 You can learn more about working with us here.

Lastly, almost every student at some point or another, feels a sense of defeat and discouragement during the MCAT prep journey. It's not easy but we know you're capable of conquering this obstacle - the only obstacle standing in between you and your dreams. You've got what it takes...

You were born for this,

The MCAT Mastery Team
Your "MCAT Success" Mentors

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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!

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