If you plan on going to medical school, then it is crucial to score well on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). This multiple-choice test is one of the significant factors used by medical schools to choose who they want to admit.
What is the Medical College Admission Test
This test is a computer-based standardized test that is given at Prometric Testing Centers approximately 14 times per year. You need to know the MCAT registration dates so that you can register for the exam that best fits your schedule. You need to find MCAT registration dates that allow you to get the exam results back before you begin applying for medical school. It is developed and overseen by the Association of American Medical Colleges.
The MCAT was first administered in 1948, has changed over time. In the not-so-distant past, students had five hours to complete the strenuous exam. Students now have eight hours to complete the test. The essay, or Writing Sample, portion of the test has been omitted. The Association of American Medical Colleges removed the writing portion of the exam because they found the data un-useful in deciding who would make a great doctor.
What is on the MCAT
The MCAT is comprised of multiple-choice questions that test your physical and biological sciences as well as verbal reasoning. When you are preparing to take this exam, you will need to prove that they have a firm grasp of biology and chemistry, including organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, biochemistry, biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics.
In 2015, the AAMC, added a new section called Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior. This section tests your ability to understand sociological, biological, and psychological influences on behavior and social interests as well as how people process stress and emotion. In addition to the new Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior, the test consists of three other sections:
- Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills: Similar to reading comprehension sections on other standardized tests. Passages come from a variety of humanities and social sciences disciplines.
- Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems: tests basic biology, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, and biochemistry
- Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems: tests basic biochemistry, biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics
A new section has been added to the exam. This new part of the test checks test-takers aptitude and understanding that is needed to deliver medical services across many cultures and sociological groups. This section was added due to the rapid demographic changes in the United States. This new part of the exam tests different ideas that include demographic shifts, social movements, globalization, and urbanization.
How to Study and Prepare for the MCAT
With so much riding on this test, it is essential to start preparing as soon as you are registered. You register for the test through the Association of American Medical Colleges. You should plan on taking the test during your junior or senior year of college. Once you are registered, then you to know how much time you need to devote to studying every day. You should allow yourself several months to prepare to take the MCAT.
There are five parts to the exam. The biological and biochemical foundations of living systems part of the exam consists of 59 questions that you have 95 minutes to complete. The chemical and physical foundations of biological systems also consists of 55 questions that you have 95 minutes to answer. The third part is the psychological, social, land biological foundations of behavior part that also has 55 problems with 95 minutes to complete. The Critical Analysis and Reasoning is the shortest part of the exam, with 53 questions that you have 90 minutes to answer.
Each section is scored separately. The top score in each section is 132. Then, the scores are combined for a total test score ranging from 472 to 528. The average student spends about 23 hours per week over 12 weeks preparing for the rigorous exam. Many students make this commitment in addition to their regular coursework.
There are several materials available to help you prepare for the exam. The process often starts with taking a practice exam to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Then, you know where you need to focus the majority of your attention. Overall, biology and biochemical questions make up 65 % of the science part of the exam. Chemistry and physics make up 30 %.
Most students find it very beneficial to take a preparation course. This course may be taken in a traditional classroom setting or online. You will be introduced to study materials, official exam questions, and be taught effective test-taking techniques. Whichever way you decide to prepare for the exam, it is vital to set a study schedule and stick with it.
A Final Note
If you plan to apply to medical school, it is important to sign up, study, and prepare to take the MCAT before you finish your undergraduate degree. Now that you have a better understanding of what is on the test and how to prepare for it get busy while you are still in school to take this test.