Speed Dating: MCAT Edition

  • Sep 13, 2019

The Medical College Admission Test, better known as the MCAT, is a standardized, multiple-choice exam designed to assess your problem solving, critical thinking, and knowledge of natural, behavioral, and social science concepts, as well as the principle prerequisites to the study of medicine. With the restructuring of the MCAT back in April 2015, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) split the new MCAT into 4 different sections:

  1. Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  2. Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS)
  3. Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  4. Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior

The structure of these 4 sections is further detailed below:

Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems

Time:

95 Minutes

Format:

59 Questions

10 Passages

44 questions are passage-based, and 15 are discrete (stand-alone) questions

What it Test

Biochemistry: 25%

Biology: 5%

General Chemistry: 30%

Organic Chemistry: 15%

Physics: 25%

 

Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS)

Time:

90 Minutes

Format:

53 Questions

9 Passages

All questions are passage-based. There are no discrete (stand-alone) questions.

What it Test

Disciplines:

  • Humanities: 50%
  • Social Science: 50%

Skills:

  • Foundations of Comprehension: 30%
  • Reasoning Within the Text: 30%
  • Reasoning Beyond the Text: 40%

 

Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems

Time:

95 Minutes

Format:

59 Questions

10 Passages

44 questions are passage-based, and 15 are discrete (stand-alone) questions

What it Test

Biochemistry: 25%

Biology: 65%

General Chemistry: 5%

Organic Chemistry: 5%

 

Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior

Time:

95 Minutes

Format:

59 Questions

10 Passages

44 questions are passage-based, and 15 are discrete (stand-alone) questions

What it Test

Biology: 5%

Psychology: 65%

Sociology: 30%

 

Totals

Testing Time

375 minutes (6 hours, 15 minutes)

Break Time

2 – 10 minute break and 1- 30 minute lunch break

 

Total Seat Time

447 minutes (7 hours, 27 minutes)

Questions

230

Score

472 to 528


Each of the four sections are scored between 118 and 132, with the median at 125. The total score ranges from 472 to 528, with the median at 500. The 99th percentile is a score of 521+, the 90th percentile is 514+ and the 50th percentile is 500. The percentiles drop exponentially after 500. As you can see, what percentile you rank varies drastically even with just a few points.

After your grueling 6+ hour exam, there is an option for you to void the score at the end of the testing period. Voiding the score means that your exam will not be scored. Medical schools will never see this exam, but you will also not know what you scored on any section. So if you felt like you did not do well on the exam, you have the option to void.

This is just a quick breakdown of MCAT. Hopefully this helps you get a sense of how MCAT is. You can find more in-depth information at www.aamc.org/mcat. Best of luck!

By: Steven Li