What Is The MCAT? Everything You Need To Know To Get Started

If you're like us and have that dream to go to medical school, then taking the MCAT will be one of the most important milestones in your journey to becoming a doctor.

All your mentors here at MCAT Mastery have taken the MCAT, scored in the competitive range, and are now in or on their way to med-school. We're here to tell you everything you need to know about the MCAT, how to succeed on it, and how to eventually make it to med-school. 

With that said, the MCAT is short for for Medical College Admission Test. It's a computer-based standardized examination for students looking to apply to medical school, administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

Most medical schools in the United States Canada require their applicants to submit their MCAT scores with their applications. Even outside of North America, the MCAT is important if you're considering going to a medical college in regions like Australia or the Caribbean Islands. 

How Important Is The MCAT?

Most admissions counsellors in Medicine agree that MCAT scores were among the most important metrics used to identify applicants to interview and admit to colleges.

Your MCAT results play crucial part of gaining admission into your dream school. So you want to make sure you put an ample amount of effort in studying and doing well because if you don't do well, it could become a deal breaker for the colleges you apply to.

If you have ambitions to go to medical school, doing well on the MCAT should be something you keep in mind and prepare well for.

If you're curious about the MCAT scores and want to know more,  you should check out our article “What is a good MCAT score?”.

What Does the MCAT Cover?

You might think that, being a test required to become a doctor, the MCAT just tests you on your knowledge in sciences like biology and chemistry. And you'd be right, but only partly!

Not only do you require knowledge in subjects like biology and chemistry, you also need to demonstrate your critical analysis and reasoning skills. The MCAT also covers material in subjects like psychology and sociology

To pass the MCAT with a good score, not only do you require a good knowledge of the foundations of living systems, but you also need to be able to demonstrate your critical analysis and reasoning skills. It also covers the psychological, social and biological foundations of behavior.

So, there's definitely a lot to know and learn. 

In full, the MCAT covers four main, equally weighted areas, which are as follows:

  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems (C/P)
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS)
  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems (B/B)
  • Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior (P/S)
What is the MCAT? MCAT score template

Example of how your MCAT score card will look.

How Long Is The MCAT?

The MCAT isn't just some test you write in an hour or two and can get over with. To the surprise of many, taking the MCAT is actually more of a full-day affair. 

Each of the four main sections  mentioned earlier lasts for 90 or 95 minutes each. When you put all that together, that's about 6 hours of test writing! Fortunately, you will be given breaks throughout the day, so it shouldn't feel too overwhelming. 

Including test-writing sections and breaks, the MCAT takes approximately 7.5 hours to complete. 

What Are the Prerequisites For Taking The MCAT?

There are no official required prerequisites for taking the MCAT. However, that doesn't mean that you won't have to study and prepare for it. Most students spend their time studying topics like cellular and molecular biology, organic chemistry, human physiology, and even physics.

It's advisable that you take courses that help prepare for the subjects covered in the test, but ultimately it's your responsibility to make sure you have all the knowledge and information you need to be prepared for the MCAT.

Is The MCAT Hard?

Certainly, the difficulty of the MCAT will vary from person to person, but there are a number of factors that make this test very challenging to everyone who writes it.  Odds are good that most people taking the MCAT have never written anything like it before.

Firstly, the amount of time you will spend writing the MCAT is nothing like the tests we've been accustomed to taking up until now. Writing a test for 7.5 hours is a mental challenge that most of us aren't trained for.  

On top of it being a long test, you have so much content to cover. The test covers topics in subjects like Biology, Physics, Sociology and Critical Reasoning. So there's a lot you need to know and memorize in order to well. 

The MCAT can definitely seem challenging, especially if you're stumbling across all of this information for the first time, but we know that with the right amount of preparation it's really not so daunting.

For more information, check out this article: How Hard Is The MCAT?

How Much Does It Cost To Take The MCAT?

In 2022, the standard cost to register for the MCAT is $325 (USD). While the cost of MCAT registration may change over time, you can always find the most up to date prices on the AAMC website.  

All of us at MCAT Mastery believe in affordability and want to highlight that in the case that you are in need for financial support, consider seeing if you qualify for AAMC's 'Reduced Fee Registration' program'

How Many Times Can You Take The MCAT?

If a student gets an MCAT score they're not happy with, there's no need to fret! You can take the MCAT again. In fact, retaking the MCAT is common among medical school applicants.

You can take the MCAT up to three times in a year, four times over a two-year period and up to a total of seven times over your entire lifetime. 

So, What is the MCAT?

So, to sum up, the MCAT is the test required to be taken for admission into most medical colleges. In fact, how well you do on the MCAT may very likely be one of the biggest factors in you getting accepted to your dream school.

The MCAT covers a wide range of topics from biology, chemistry, psychology, sociology, critical analysis and reasoning. It takes a total of 7.5 hours to complete. 

Preparing for and doing well MCAT isn't an easy feat and will require a lot of hard work and commitment, but it's certainly not out of reach!

We could do it and we think you can do it too. Afterall, if you've already taken the initiative to seek out more information and read through this article, you're already on the right track! And don't forget that all of us on the MCAT Mastery team are always here to help you in your journey.

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!

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