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COVID-19 Changes to the MCAT Exam

Updated May 5, 2020

To lessen the impact of MCAT cancellations due to coronavirus (COVID-19) and in an attempt to provide testing to as many examinees as possible who want to test in 2020 during the pandemic, the AAMC is temporarily shortening the MCAT exam and offering multiple administrations per test date. A shortened version of the MCAT exam will only be administered from May 29 through the end of the 2020 testing year.

The exam time will be reduced from a total “seated” time of 7 hours and 30 minutes to 5 hours and 45 minutes. The number of scored questions remains the same. Other elements of the exam have been reduced or removed to shorten the seated time, such as the tutorial and end-of-day survey.

We encourage examinees to use the “Practice with Exam Features” tool in the free resources section of the MCAT Prep Hub to familiarize themselves with the exam’s functionality before test day in lieu of the tutorial.

Examinees will still be tested on all four sections of the exam and will be responsible for demonstrating the same knowledge and skills at the same levels of difficulty as on the full-length exam.

Examinees will receive the same scores on the shortened exam as they do on the full-length exam. Examinees will receive five scores from the shortened version of the exam: one from each of the four sections and one combined total score, just like examinees who took the full-length test. Please see our webpage on how the exam is scored for more information.

Below is the new test day schedule. Exams will be administered three times a day at test centers to accommodate the immediate need for increased testing capacity and flexibility as the pandemic unfolds.  Standard start times will be 6:30 a.m., 12:15 p.m., and 6:00 p.m. each day. There may be some variations by test center.

Test Day Schedule for Exams Held May 29 - September 28, 2020

Section

Number of Questions

 Time Allotted

Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems 48 76 minutes 
Break (optional)     10 minutes
Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills   48 81 minutes
Mid-Exam Break (optional)    10 minutes
Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems 48 76 minutes 
Break (optional)     10 minutes
Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior  48 76 minutes
Void Question   2 minutes
Total Content Time (includes administration screens)   5 hours and 15 minutes 
Total “Seated” Time*    Approx. 5 hours and 45 minutes

*Total seated time does not include check-in time upon arrival at the test. 

Content Overview

Section Number of Questions Question Type
Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems 48
  • 8 passage-based sets of questions (4-6 questions per set)
  • 12 independent questions
Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills   48
  • 8 passages (5-7 questions per passage)
Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems 48
  • 8 passage-based sets of questions (4-6 questions per set)
  • 12 independent questions
Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior  48
  • 8 passage-based sets of questions (4-6 questions per set)
  • 12 independent questions

Protecting your Health and Safety

Examinee health and safety is our top priority. When MCAT testing resumes, there will be multiple health and safety measures in place at all test centers, including:   

  • Social distancing: examinees will be seated six feet (2 meters) apart in the test center.
  • Examinees can bring masks and gloves to the exam.
  • Hand sanitizer will be available.
  • Enhanced disinfecting practices will occur at the test centers before and after each seating.

Please visit Pearson VUE’s website for a comprehensive list of health and safety measures in place at test centers.

As the spread of COVID-19 slows and expands in the United States and across the globe, the availability of testing may be affected. The AAMC will follow strict guidance from local health authorities in testing locations to protect the health and safety of examinees. Please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization for more information about the COVID-19 pandemic and current health and safety guidance.

Protecting Your Health and Safety on Test Day

Scheduling an MCAT Exam during COVID-19

During this stressful time, you likely have many questions about registering for or rescheduling your MCAT exam and selecting the test date that works best for you. The information on this page will help you navigate this process.

COVID-19 Updates to the Accommodations Process

COVID-19 MCAT FAQs