General MCAT FAQs

Why did the MCAT exam change?

In standardized testing, periodic reviews of exams are considered a best practice, especially in fields with rapidly-changing knowledge bases like medicine. 

As the standardized test required by the majority of medical schools in the United States and Canada, the MCAT exam provides admissions committees with important information about their applicants’ readiness for success. Periodic updates ensure that the exam is keeping pace with changes in the study and practice of medicine, such as new and innovative treatments, health care system reforms, and the challenges that come with serving an increasingly diverse population.

For more information, please see Changing the MCAT Exam.

Why did the MCAT exam change?

In standardized testing, periodic reviews of exams are considered a best practice, especially in fields with rapidly-changing knowledge bases like medicine. 

As the standardized test required by the majority of medical schools in the United States and Canada, the MCAT exam provides admissions committees with important information about their applicants’ readiness for success. Periodic updates ensure that the exam is keeping pace with changes in the study and practice of medicine, such as new and innovative treatments, health care system reforms, and the challenges that come with serving an increasingly diverse population.

For more information, please see Changing the MCAT Exam.

How will the new MCAT exam better prepare doctors?

A comprehensive review of the MCAT exam was completed by the AAMC and a 21-member advisory committee in 2011. The committee solicited input at more than 90 outreach events, from several expert panels and advisory committees, and surveyed more than 1,000 medical school faculty, residents, and medical students to learn which natural science concepts entering students need to know in order to succeed in medical school.

The new exam preserves what works about the previous exam, eliminates what isn’t working, and further enriches the exam by giving attention to the concepts that tomorrow’s doctors will need.

The natural sciences sections reflect recent changes in science and medical education; the addition of the social and behavioral sciences section recognizes the importance of socio-cultural and behavioral determinants of health and health outcomes; and the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section reflects the value that medical schools place on analysis, evaluation, and reasoning skills and on broad preparation for medical school.

How will the new MCAT exam better prepare doctors?

A comprehensive review of the MCAT exam was completed by the AAMC and a 21-member advisory committee in 2011. The committee solicited input at more than 90 outreach events, from several expert panels and advisory committees, and surveyed more than 1,000 medical school faculty, residents, and medical students to learn which natural science concepts entering students need to know in order to succeed in medical school.

The new exam preserves what works about the previous exam, eliminates what isn’t working, and further enriches the exam by giving attention to the concepts that tomorrow’s doctors will need.

The natural sciences sections reflect recent changes in science and medical education; the addition of the social and behavioral sciences section recognizes the importance of socio-cultural and behavioral determinants of health and health outcomes; and the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section reflects the value that medical schools place on analysis, evaluation, and reasoning skills and on broad preparation for medical school.

Am I eligible to take the MCAT Exam?

You are eligible to take the MCAT exam if you are planning to apply to a health professions school, which includes:

  • Allopathic
  • Osteopathic
  • Podiatric
  • Veterinary medicine.

When you register, you will be required to a statement verifying your intention to apply to a health professions school.

International Students

International students may sit for the exam as long as you meet the eligibility requirements above. If you are in or hold an MBBS degree program, you can register for the exam without seeking special permission.

For more information, please read How Do I Apply as an International Applicant? 

Special Permission

If you aren’t planning to apply to a health professions school or if you’re a currently enrolled medical student (other than a MBBS degree program), you must obtain "special permission" to register for the MCAT exam.

To request special permission, please send an email to mcat@aamc.org, stating the reason(s) you wish to take the exam. The MCAT exam office will attempt to review and respond to your request within five business days, although during certain times we may be delayed in our ability to reply within this time frame. We therefore ask that you be mindful of registration deadlines, because staff cannot extend closing dates for any reason.

 

Applying as an International Student

Am I eligible to take the MCAT Exam?

You are eligible to take the MCAT exam if you are planning to apply to a health professions school, which includes:

  • Allopathic
  • Osteopathic
  • Podiatric
  • Veterinary medicine.

When you register, you will be required to a statement verifying your intention to apply to a health professions school.

International Students

International students may sit for the exam as long as you meet the eligibility requirements above. If you are in or hold an MBBS degree program, you can register for the exam without seeking special permission.

For more information, please read How Do I Apply as an International Applicant? 

Special Permission

If you aren’t planning to apply to a health professions school or if you’re a currently enrolled medical student (other than a MBBS degree program), you must obtain "special permission" to register for the MCAT exam.

To request special permission, please send an email to mcat@aamc.org, stating the reason(s) you wish to take the exam. The MCAT exam office will attempt to review and respond to your request within five business days, although during certain times we may be delayed in our ability to reply within this time frame. We therefore ask that you be mindful of registration deadlines, because staff cannot extend closing dates for any reason.

 

Applying as an International Student

When Should I Take the MCAT Exam?

In most cases, you should take the MCAT exam in the calendar year prior to the year in which you plan to enter medical school. For example, if you are applying in 2016 for entrance to medical school in 2017, you should take the exam in 2016).

 

If you can't decide whether to take the exam early in the year or later, ask yourself two questions:

  • Will I take the exam just once, or is there a possibility I might want to take it again?
  • Have I mastered the material or do I need additional coursework or study?

 

If you think that you will take the MCAT exam more than once in a given calendar year, you might want to make your first attempt early in the year. This should allow you sufficient time to receive your scores, make a decision about your second attempt, and find an available seat later in the testing year.

 

If you have coursework to complete, additional studying to do, or if you have a major conflict that won't allow you to be in the right frame of mind for the exam, we suggest that you wait until you are better prepared. This may mean you make your first attempt later in the year. That's okay, too. You're the best judge of your preparedness.

 

You can view the topics that will be covered on the MCAT exam in the What's on the MCAT Exam? interactive tool.

 

If you need help deciding when to take the exam, check in with your pre-health advisor. Most importantly, take the exam when you’re ready, not when you think should be.

 

See Creating a Study Plan for more information about preparing for the MCAT exam.

When Should I Take the MCAT Exam?

In most cases, you should take the MCAT exam in the calendar year prior to the year in which you plan to enter medical school. For example, if you are applying in 2016 for entrance to medical school in 2017, you should take the exam in 2016).

 

If you can't decide whether to take the exam early in the year or later, ask yourself two questions:

  • Will I take the exam just once, or is there a possibility I might want to take it again?
  • Have I mastered the material or do I need additional coursework or study?

 

If you think that you will take the MCAT exam more than once in a given calendar year, you might want to make your first attempt early in the year. This should allow you sufficient time to receive your scores, make a decision about your second attempt, and find an available seat later in the testing year.

 

If you have coursework to complete, additional studying to do, or if you have a major conflict that won't allow you to be in the right frame of mind for the exam, we suggest that you wait until you are better prepared. This may mean you make your first attempt later in the year. That's okay, too. You're the best judge of your preparedness.

 

You can view the topics that will be covered on the MCAT exam in the What's on the MCAT Exam? interactive tool.

 

If you need help deciding when to take the exam, check in with your pre-health advisor. Most importantly, take the exam when you’re ready, not when you think should be.

 

See Creating a Study Plan for more information about preparing for the MCAT exam.

How often can I take the MCAT Exam?

New limits on how many attempts you have to take the MCAT exam began in April 2015. Remember that you can only be registered for one seat at a time and that no-shows and voids count as attempts.

Single testing year:

  • The MCAT exam can be taking up to three times.

Two consecutive-year period:

  • The MCAT exam can be taken up to four times.

Lifetime:

  • The MCAT exam can be taken up to seven times in a lifetime.

How often can I take the MCAT Exam?

New limits on how many attempts you have to take the MCAT exam began in April 2015. Remember that you can only be registered for one seat at a time and that no-shows and voids count as attempts.

Single testing year:

  • The MCAT exam can be taking up to three times.

Two consecutive-year period:

  • The MCAT exam can be taken up to four times.

Lifetime:

  • The MCAT exam can be taken up to seven times in a lifetime.

Are there required courses or pre-requisites I need to take before taking the MCAT exam?

There are no required courses needed to take the exam. All of the content on the new MCAT is covered in introductory courses at most colleges and universities, including introductory biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, and first-semester psychology, sociology, and biochemistry. Research methods and statistics concepts on the exam are used in introductory science labs as well as introductory psychology and sociology courses. You are encouraged to reach out to the pre-health advisor at your institution who can help you determine the specific coursework you will need to meet your educational goals.

Are there required courses or pre-requisites I need to take before taking the MCAT exam?

There are no required courses needed to take the exam. All of the content on the new MCAT is covered in introductory courses at most colleges and universities, including introductory biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, and first-semester psychology, sociology, and biochemistry. Research methods and statistics concepts on the exam are used in introductory science labs as well as introductory psychology and sociology courses. You are encouraged to reach out to the pre-health advisor at your institution who can help you determine the specific coursework you will need to meet your educational goals.

Do I need to take a commercial MCAT review course?

Our data shows that roughly half of MCAT examinees report that they prepared for the exam without a review course, preferring self-study. However, some students do enroll in MCAT prep courses offered by commercial organizations. Others prefer to study using a course in a classroom setting.

The AAMC provides free and low-cost MCAT preparation materials to help you prepare regardless of the direction you choose.

Do I need to take a commercial MCAT review course?

Our data shows that roughly half of MCAT examinees report that they prepared for the exam without a review course, preferring self-study. However, some students do enroll in MCAT prep courses offered by commercial organizations. Others prefer to study using a course in a classroom setting.

The AAMC provides free and low-cost MCAT preparation materials to help you prepare regardless of the direction you choose.

Can I use my old test preparation resources to prepare for the new MCAT exam?

Some questions in the old products test concepts that aren't tested on the new MCAT exam.

We want to help you practice in the most efficient way. To ensure that you are preparing with content that could be tested on the new exam, the AAMC has developed new MCAT test prep products that include a full-length Sample Test and six Question Packs by discipline area that map back to the new exam. A second full-length practice test and Section Bank will be available in November 2015.

Can I use my old test preparation resources to prepare for the new MCAT exam?

Some questions in the old products test concepts that aren't tested on the new MCAT exam.

We want to help you practice in the most efficient way. To ensure that you are preparing with content that could be tested on the new exam, the AAMC has developed new MCAT test prep products that include a full-length Sample Test and six Question Packs by discipline area that map back to the new exam. A second full-length practice test and Section Bank will be available in November 2015.

MCAT Registration FAQs

Why is the new MCAT exam longer?

The total administration time for the MCAT exam is about seven and a half hours, including time for breaks and other test day activities. This is slightly shorter than the length of the MCAT exam administered from 1991 to 2006, when the test was given on paper rather than on a computer.

 

In order to help admissions committees evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their applicants' academic competencies in the natural, behavioral, and social sciences and critical reasoning skills, there are more questions per section.

 

The longer exam provides more accurate and reliable section scores. Admissions committees will be able to weigh applicants' strengths and weaknesses in comparison to other academic information in their applications, such as transcripts, undergraduate grades, course-taking history, and other data, and to think about them in relation to the requirements of their curriculum

 

The new MCAT exam provides examinees more working time per question. Examinees have between 10 and 20 percent more time across the sections to review passages and questions, and to decide on their answers.

Why is the new MCAT exam longer?

The total administration time for the MCAT exam is about seven and a half hours, including time for breaks and other test day activities. This is slightly shorter than the length of the MCAT exam administered from 1991 to 2006, when the test was given on paper rather than on a computer.

 

In order to help admissions committees evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their applicants' academic competencies in the natural, behavioral, and social sciences and critical reasoning skills, there are more questions per section.

 

The longer exam provides more accurate and reliable section scores. Admissions committees will be able to weigh applicants' strengths and weaknesses in comparison to other academic information in their applications, such as transcripts, undergraduate grades, course-taking history, and other data, and to think about them in relation to the requirements of their curriculum

 

The new MCAT exam provides examinees more working time per question. Examinees have between 10 and 20 percent more time across the sections to review passages and questions, and to decide on their answers.

Can I see what seats are available without losing my current seat reservation?

Yes, you can!

Simply go back into the MCAT Scheduling and Registration system to view current seat availability. You won't lose your current seat until you submit payment for a new seat. Please keep in mind that additional fees will apply no matter when you choose to reschedule.

For more information about changing your exam test center or exam date, please see the MCAT Essentials.

Can I see what seats are available without losing my current seat reservation?

Yes, you can!

Simply go back into the MCAT Scheduling and Registration system to view current seat availability. You won't lose your current seat until you submit payment for a new seat. Please keep in mind that additional fees will apply no matter when you choose to reschedule.

For more information about changing your exam test center or exam date, please see the MCAT Essentials.

When is the last day that I can reschedule or cancel my MCAT exam date?

There are three registration zones for each exam date: Gold, Silver, and Bronze. All deadlines are at 11:59 p.m. ET. The Silver Zone registration deadline is the last day to reschedule and the Bronze Zone registration deadline is the last day to cancel any exam.

When is the last day that I can reschedule or cancel my MCAT exam date?

There are three registration zones for each exam date: Gold, Silver, and Bronze. All deadlines are at 11:59 p.m. ET. The Silver Zone registration deadline is the last day to reschedule and the Bronze Zone registration deadline is the last day to cancel any exam.

Can I get on a waitlist for a specific MCAT test date?

At this time, we don’t have a wait list available for registration. We recommend that you check the MCAT Scheduling and Registration System frequently, especially around registration deadlines and score release days. The system updates often to reflect what is available.

Can I get on a waitlist for a specific MCAT test date?

At this time, we don’t have a wait list available for registration. We recommend that you check the MCAT Scheduling and Registration System frequently, especially around registration deadlines and score release days. The system updates often to reflect what is available.

What does a 10-minute optional break mean?

You can go on to the next section in the MCAT exam if you finish the previous section early, or if you want to skip one of the optional breaks.

The remaining time from a section you finished early or a skipped break will not carry over to the next section of the exam.

What does a 10-minute optional break mean?

You can go on to the next section in the MCAT exam if you finish the previous section early, or if you want to skip one of the optional breaks.

The remaining time from a section you finished early or a skipped break will not carry over to the next section of the exam.

How long will I have to wait until I can retake the MCAT exam?

There is no defined waiting period between tests. However, you may only register for one MCAT testing session at a time, and you must wait 48 hours following your exam day to be able to register for a new seat.

How long will I have to wait until I can retake the MCAT exam?

There is no defined waiting period between tests. However, you may only register for one MCAT testing session at a time, and you must wait 48 hours following your exam day to be able to register for a new seat.

When will registration open for June-September exam dates?

Registration will open in February for the June-September exam dates. Follow @AAMC_MCAT for updates and announcements.

When will registration open for June-September exam dates?

Registration will open in February for the June-September exam dates. Follow @AAMC_MCAT for updates and announcements.

MCAT Scores FAQs

How is the MCAT exam scored?

You will receive five scores from your MCAT exam: one for each of the four sections and one combined total score. Individual section scores range from 118-132 and total scores range from 472-528.

The exam is not scored on a curve. Scores are scaled and equated. Although all test forms of the exam measure the same basic skills and concepts, each form contains different questions. Since one form may be slightly more difficult or slightly easier than another, we convert the raw scores to a scale that takes into consideration the difficulty of test questions. Regardless of the particular test form used, equal scaled scores will represent the same level of skill mastery.

For more information, please see How is the New MCAT Exam Scored? and refer to the MCAT® Essentials.

How is the MCAT exam scored?

You will receive five scores from your MCAT exam: one for each of the four sections and one combined total score. Individual section scores range from 118-132 and total scores range from 472-528.

The exam is not scored on a curve. Scores are scaled and equated. Although all test forms of the exam measure the same basic skills and concepts, each form contains different questions. Since one form may be slightly more difficult or slightly easier than another, we convert the raw scores to a scale that takes into consideration the difficulty of test questions. Regardless of the particular test form used, equal scaled scores will represent the same level of skill mastery.

For more information, please see How is the New MCAT Exam Scored? and refer to the MCAT® Essentials.

How long does it take to receive MCAT scores?

Scores are released approximately 30-35 days after each test day. Please see the Score Release Schedule for the tentative release dates for each exam. Scores are released by 5 p.m. ET on release days.

If you took the exam in April 2015 or May 2015, it will take longer than the typical 30-35 days. This is because extra time is needed to conduct the necessary analyses to set the score scale. Examinees who test in April or May will receive their scores before AMCAS begins sending applications to medical schools for the first time in early July.

Please note, April 2015 and May 2015 examinees will also receive preliminary percentile rank ranges approximately three weeks after your exam date. These preliminary percentile rank ranges will show you how well you performed compared to other examinees who took the exam on that day. This will help you make a decision early about whether or not to retest or where to apply.

How long does it take to receive MCAT scores?

Scores are released approximately 30-35 days after each test day. Please see the Score Release Schedule for the tentative release dates for each exam. Scores are released by 5 p.m. ET on release days.

If you took the exam in April 2015 or May 2015, it will take longer than the typical 30-35 days. This is because extra time is needed to conduct the necessary analyses to set the score scale. Examinees who test in April or May will receive their scores before AMCAS begins sending applications to medical schools for the first time in early July.

Please note, April 2015 and May 2015 examinees will also receive preliminary percentile rank ranges approximately three weeks after your exam date. These preliminary percentile rank ranges will show you how well you performed compared to other examinees who took the exam on that day. This will help you make a decision early about whether or not to retest or where to apply.

How will admissions officers evaluate applications with different MCAT scores from the old and new exams?

Admissions committees will use MCAT scores from the current exam in the way they always have—in conjunction with other academic information from applicants' transcripts, applications, and letters of evaluation.

Because these MCAT scores are new to admissions committee members, they use the percentile ranks for the new scores to see how individual applicants compare to others who took the new exam. As committee members learn about the new scores, they will pay special attention to grades, coursework, letters of evaluation, and other information about applicants' academic preparation.

How will admissions officers evaluate applications with different MCAT scores from the old and new exams?

Admissions committees will use MCAT scores from the current exam in the way they always have—in conjunction with other academic information from applicants' transcripts, applications, and letters of evaluation.

Because these MCAT scores are new to admissions committee members, they use the percentile ranks for the new scores to see how individual applicants compare to others who took the new exam. As committee members learn about the new scores, they will pay special attention to grades, coursework, letters of evaluation, and other information about applicants' academic preparation.

What will be a "good" score on the new MCAT exam?

Because the new and old MCAT exams test different things, you cannot compare scores, and at this time there is no examinee data available. View the current percentile ranks for 2015. For more information, we have developed a two-minute video to explain the new scores and scale.

What will be a "good" score on the new MCAT exam?

Because the new and old MCAT exams test different things, you cannot compare scores, and at this time there is no examinee data available. View the current percentile ranks for 2015. For more information, we have developed a two-minute video to explain the new scores and scale.

How are multiple MCAT scores used?

According to a survey of medical school admissions officers, schools use multiple sets of MCAT scores in several ways:

  • Some schools weigh all sets of scores equally and note improvements.
  • Other schools consider only the most recent set of scores.
  • Still others take an average of all sets of scores.
  • Some schools use only the highest set of scores or the highest individual sections scores.

How are multiple MCAT scores used?

According to a survey of medical school admissions officers, schools use multiple sets of MCAT scores in several ways:

  • Some schools weigh all sets of scores equally and note improvements.
  • Other schools consider only the most recent set of scores.
  • Still others take an average of all sets of scores.
  • Some schools use only the highest set of scores or the highest individual sections scores.

How was the new score scale developed?

The percentile ranks reported in the 2015 testing year were based on the scores of examinees who tested on April 17 and 18. The AAMC anticipated that these examinees would be atypical of examinees who took the new MCAT in a typical testing year—one that runs from January to September and that is not in the midst of change.

 

These adjustments—which have been carefully researched using a wide range of data about past examinees—enabled us to provide examinees with percentile ranks when we release the very first set of scores in June 2015. These same percentile ranks were used for all of the scores reported in the 2015 testing year—that is, all scores from the 2015 testing year were attached to the same set of percentile ranks.

 

View the percentile for 2015

How was the new score scale developed?

The percentile ranks reported in the 2015 testing year were based on the scores of examinees who tested on April 17 and 18. The AAMC anticipated that these examinees would be atypical of examinees who took the new MCAT in a typical testing year—one that runs from January to September and that is not in the midst of change.

 

These adjustments—which have been carefully researched using a wide range of data about past examinees—enabled us to provide examinees with percentile ranks when we release the very first set of scores in June 2015. These same percentile ranks were used for all of the scores reported in the 2015 testing year—that is, all scores from the 2015 testing year were attached to the same set of percentile ranks.

 

View the percentile for 2015

If I took the MCAT exam prior to April 2015, how long can I submit my scores?

The AAMC will continue to report MCAT test scores from the 1991 version through the 2019 AMCAS application cycle. However, whether medical schools will continue to accept these scores through the 2019 AMCAS application cycle will depend on the individual medical school.

 

The AAMC conducted a survey about medical schools' policies for accepting scores from the prior version of the MCAT exam (administered from 1991 through January 2015). See the survey results:

If I took the MCAT exam prior to April 2015, how long can I submit my scores?

The AAMC will continue to report MCAT test scores from the 1991 version through the 2019 AMCAS application cycle. However, whether medical schools will continue to accept these scores through the 2019 AMCAS application cycle will depend on the individual medical school.

 

The AAMC conducted a survey about medical schools' policies for accepting scores from the prior version of the MCAT exam (administered from 1991 through January 2015). See the survey results:

How do I send my MCAT scores to non-AMCAS schools?

MCAT scores can be sent to non-AMCAS schools or programs in two ways:

 

  • Electronically through the Score Reporting System, or
  • Mailing a copy of your official score report.

How do I send my MCAT scores to non-AMCAS schools?

MCAT scores can be sent to non-AMCAS schools or programs in two ways:

 

  • Electronically through the Score Reporting System, or
  • Mailing a copy of your official score report.

Do you have statistics and data on MCAT examinees scores?

Yes, this information is reported annually. See MCAT Research and Data for more information.

Do you have statistics and data on MCAT examinees scores?

Yes, this information is reported annually. See MCAT Research and Data for more information.

Can I rescore my MCAT exam?

If you think that a scoring error has occurred, then you may request that your MCAT exam be rescored by hand.

 

You will receive the results of this rescoring in writing. The response letter will either confirm that your original scores were correct as reported, or inform you of the corrected scaled scores for each test section. Raw scores will not be disclosed.

 

For privacy and security reasons, the MCAT program and its independent reviewers do not disclose any information on score changes. However, scores may go up, down, or remain the same.

 

For more information, please refer to the MCAT Essentials

 

Note: If you have a 2014-January 2015 MCAT score, please follow the same instructions listed in the 2015 MCAT Essentials.

Can I rescore my MCAT exam?

If you think that a scoring error has occurred, then you may request that your MCAT exam be rescored by hand.

 

You will receive the results of this rescoring in writing. The response letter will either confirm that your original scores were correct as reported, or inform you of the corrected scaled scores for each test section. Raw scores will not be disclosed.

 

For privacy and security reasons, the MCAT program and its independent reviewers do not disclose any information on score changes. However, scores may go up, down, or remain the same.

 

For more information, please refer to the MCAT Essentials

 

Note: If you have a 2014-January 2015 MCAT score, please follow the same instructions listed in the 2015 MCAT Essentials.