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The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is an entrance examination for medical schools which is maintained by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). In the early 1920s, nearly 50% of first-year students were failing or dropping out of medical schools. An entrance examination called the Scholastic Aptitude Test for Medical Students was introduced in 1928, and this dramatically decreased student attrition rates in medical schools. The exam was redesigned and renamed the Professional Aptitude Test in 1946. Another major redesign occurred in 1962, and the exam was ultimately replaced by the first version of the MCAT in 1977. The second version of the MCAT was introduced in 1992. This version introduced an essay requirement. Since 2007, computer testing has been standard.[1]

The current old version of the MCAT is being retired on January 23, 2015, and the new 2015 revision of the MCAT is launching on the next testing date: April 17, 2015 (see Recent and Future Developments below). This article reflects the content and scoring of the 2015 version of the MCAT.

Function of the Test

MCAT Study Guide

The MCAT is an admissions examination. It is taken by prospective medical students who wish to apply for admission to a medical school, typically in the USA or Canada. The admissions offices of medical programs weigh MCAT scores as one of several factors in determining whether a given candidate should be offered admission into the program. Different medical programs are free to determine their own cutoff scores and how much emphasis to place on MCAT scores.

In 2013, 94,907 MCAT tests were administered.[2] In that year, the mean total score was 25.3 out of 45.[2]

Test Administration

MCAT Flashcards

The 2015 MCAT testing calendar runs only from April through September, and registration begins in February 2015. The AAMC has reduced the number of testing dates compared to prior years, but has boosted the number of testing sites and seats available. In particular, there will be more on-campus testing opportunities in 2015 than there were in the past.[3] The fee for the 2015 MCAT will be $300.[4]

MCAT scores are typically reported 30-35 days after the administration of the exam, but the April and May 2015 exams are expected to require additional time for statistical analysis and calibration before scores can be reported.[5] It is not clear whether the retesting policy will be changed or not, but the current (2014) retesting policy is that candidates may retake the MCAT an unlimited number of times, provided that they wait until the second day following exam administration to register for another seating of the exam.[6]

Candidates with disabilities who require special testing accommodations must submit their request and associated documentation to the MCAT Office of Accommodated Testing Services via MCAT Accommodation Online (MAO). Requests should be submitted as early as possible prior to the intended test date.[7]

Test Format

Test Structure

The MCAT is made up of four major sections: Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems; Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems; Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior; Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills. Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems contains 59 questions, and lasts 95 minutes. The Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section contains 53 questions, and allows 90 minutes to complete. The Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems provides 95 minutes to complete all 59 questions. The last section, Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior, also contains 59 questions, and lasts 95 minutes. Including breaks, tutorials, surveys, and testing sections, the testing session is estimated to last around 7 hours and 33 minutes. [8]

Test Environment

For admission, a government issued, photo ID containing a signature. The name must be identical to the name on MCAT registration. Cell phones and other electronic devices are not allowed inside the testing center. Bags and backpacks must be stored in a locker provided by the testing center. [9]

More free MCAT help.


Distribution of questions on the 2015 MCAT exam[10][11]
Section # of
Time limit
Score range
Biological and Biochemical
Foundations of Living Systems
59 95 118 to 132
Chemical and Physical Foundations
of Biological Systems
59 95 118 to 132
Psychological, Social, and
Biological Foundations of Behavior
59 95 118 to 132
Critical Analysis and
Reasoning Skills
53 90 118 to 132
Total 230 6 hours 15 minutes
(Not including breaks)
472 to 528

The four sections of the MCAT are each equally taken into consideration for scoring. Each of the four sections (Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems; Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems; Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior; and Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills) are scored on a scale of 118 to 132. The four scored sections are combined to give a score ranging from 472 to 528, with a score of 500 being the midpoint.[12]

There is no single "passing score" on the MCAT. Different medical school may choose to set their own minimum score cutoffs. In addition, because this new version of the examination has not yet been launched, statistics on candidate performance are not yet available.

Recent and Future Developments

The latest overhaul of the MCAT is launching in April 2015. The AAMC began a comprehensive review of the previous version of the MCAT exam in 2009. Part of the study included a survey of approximately 3,000 baccalaureate and medical school faculty, residents, current medical students, and admissions and academic affairs officers to determine what concepts incoming medical students need to know in order be successful in their coursework. The survey also determined what exact material was being covered in undergraduate pre-med curricula. In 2012, the AAMC Board of Directors approved the recommendations of the study, and development began on the new 2015 overhaul of the MCAT.[13]

Answers to Sample Questions

Physical Sciences: 1;B 2;D 3;C Verbal Reasoning: 1;D 2;C 3;B Biological Sciences: 1;D 2;D 3;C

Related Tests


  1. ^ WVU School of Medicine: MCAT History December 5 2014
  2. ^ a b AAMC: Percentile Ranks for MCAT Total and Section Scores for Tests Administered in 2013 December 5 2014
  3. ^ AAMC: Testing Calendar December 5 2014
  4. ^ AAMC: MCAT2015 Administration December 5 2014
  5. ^ AAMC: MCAT2015 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) December 5 2014
  6. ^ AAMC: How long will I have to wait until I can retake the exam? December 5 2014
  7. ^ AAMC: MCAT® Exam with Accommodations December 5 2014
  8. ^ The MCAT Essentials 10 October 2015
  9. ^ Test Day Rules] 17 November 2014
  10. ^ AAMC: How is the MCAT2015 Exam Structured? December 5 2014
  11. ^ AAMC: How is the MCAT2015 exam scored? December 5 2014
  12. ^ How is the New MCAT Exam Scored? October 30 2015
  13. ^ AAMC: History of the MCAT2015 Exam December 5 2014

External Links