MCAT: About the Medical College Admissions Test

Scoring, Sections, Deadlines, and More

University students taking exam in classroom
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Medical schools take several factors into account when considering your application: your transcript, letters of recommendation, and of course, your medical college admissions test, or MCAT, score.

What Is the MCAT?

The MCAT is a standardized exam designed to measure your aptitude for a career in medicine. It provides medical schools an objective measure of your ability to process and analyze information and attempts to predict your future success in medical school. It also taps your critical thinking skills and problem-solving ability. While not the sole determining factor in acceptance decisions, it provides admissions officers with a basis of comparison for the thousands of applications they review.

Who Administers the MCAT?

The MCAT is administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges, a nonprofit organization composed of accredited U.S. and Canadian medical schools, major teaching hospitals and professional medical societies.

The MCAT Consists of 4 Sections

The latest version of the MCAT was rolled out in 2015. Its four sections are:

  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior

The critical analysis and reasoning section consists of 53 questions and is 90 minutes long. The other three sections each contain 59 questions that must be answered within 95 minutes per section.

When to Take the MCAT

The MCAT is administered multiple times between January and September. Take the exam the year before you intend to enroll in medical school (i.e., before you apply). If you think that you might take the MCAT more than once, make your first attempt in January, March, April or May so that you have enough time to get your scores, decide on whether to take it again, register for a seat and prepare.

How to Register for the MCAT

Seats fill quickly so register well ahead of deadlines. Information about the test, test centers, and registration details can be found on the Medical College Admissions Test website.

How the MCAT Is Scored

Each MCAT section is scored individually. Multiple choice questions are scored right or wrong, with wrong answers worth the same as unanswered questions, so don't skip questions. You'll get a score for each of the four sections and then a total score. Section scores range from 118 to 132, and total scores from 472 to 528, with a score of 500 being the midpoint.

When to Expect MCAT Scores

Scores are released 30 to 35 days after the exam and available online. Your scores are automatically released to the ​American Medical College Application Service, a non-profit centralized application processing service.