Get answers to your questions about MCAT® registration, scores, and more.
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:
- M.D.-granting programs
- D.O.-granting programs
- Podiatric (D.P.M)
- Veterinary medicine (D.V.M)
- Any other health-related program that will accept MCAT exam results to satisfy a test score admissions requirement
When you register, you will be required to agree to a statement verifying your intention to apply to a health professions school.
There are no additional eligibility requirements for international examinees. If you are currently in, or hold a degree from, an MBBS degree program or equivalent, you can register for the exam without seeking special permission.
For more information, please read How Do I Apply as an International Applicant?
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 email@example.com, stating the reason(s) you wish to take the exam. The MCAT program 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 deadlines for any reason.
When should I take the MCAT exam?
The best time to take the MCAT exam is when you feel most prepared and ready. There isn’t a “one size fits all” solution that will work for everyone. But when making this decision, there are three questions you can ask yourself:
1. When do I want to attend medical school?
Often, students will choose to take their MCAT exam in the same year they are applying to medical school. For example, if you are thinking about attending medical school in fall 2024, you might consider taking your exam during 2023.
2. Do I think I might need to test more than once?
Many examinees test more than once. If you think you may re-take the exam, and you want to leave yourself that option, you may consider taking the exam earlier in a testing year. This will give you the opportunity to receive your scores, make a decision about whether to re-test, and find another seat later in the year.
3. Have I mastered the content tested on the exam?
The MCAT exam tests content found in introductory-level courses at most undergraduate institutions, including biology, general and organic chemistry, and physics, as well as first-semester biochemistry, psychology, and sociology. While there aren’t specific courses you have to take to be able to register and take the exam, it’s important to feel comfortable with the content and skills tested. If you feel that additional coursework or studying is needed to help you prepare, think about testing after you've had time to complete that coursework and study. Consult your pre-health advisor or a faculty member to assist with course selection, as courses vary by institution. If you don’t have a pre-health advisor, the National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions (NAAHP) can connect you for free with one of their members who can help you.
Also keep in mind, medical schools will be able to see all of your scored exams, and there are limits on the number of times you can take the exam. See the MCAT Essentials for more information about viewing your scores, releasing your scores to programs and lifetime limits.
If you need additional 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 you should be.
Are there required courses or pre-requisites I need to take before taking the MCAT exam?
All of the content on the 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.
How often can I take the MCAT exam?
There are testing limits on how many times you can take the MCAT exam. Voids and no-shows count toward your lifetime limits. Remember that you can only be registered for one seat at a time.
Single testing year:
The MCAT exam can be taken up to three times.
Two consecutive-year period:
The MCAT exam can be taken up to four times.
The MCAT exam can be taken up to seven times in a lifetime.
What does an optional break mean?
You are not required to take a break between sections of the MCAT exam. You may go on to the next section in the exam once you finish the previous section or you may take the optional 10 or 30 minute break. You may also leave the testing room during the break to access food, drink, or medicines or to use the restroom.
The remaining time from a section you finished early or a skipped break will not carry over to the next section of the exam.
Does preparation for the MCAT exam differ for examinees applying to MD-granting or DO-granting medical schools?
MD- and DO-granting schools utilize similar curricula to prepare their students for entry into ACGME-accredited residency training programs. Preparation for the MCAT exam does not differ for examinees applying to either school.
The MCAT exam tests concepts in the natural, social, and behavioral sciences and critical analysis and reasoning skills that are essential to entering students' success in medical school. The exam was designed by a diverse group of medical school educators, administrators, and leaders; undergraduate faculty and advisors; and a medical student and resident. The MCAT exam was informed by quantitative and qualitative research, including data and recommendations from experts about what entering medical students need to know and what is taught widely at undergraduate institutions.
Research on the MCAT exam's fairness, use, and predictive validity is led by representatives from MD-granting medical schools in the U.S. and Canada, prehealth advisors at undergraduate schools, with input from leaders in osteopathic medical education. Findings from this research show the value of MCAT scores in predicting performance in pre-clerkship and clerkship courses and on licensure examinations.