Medical School Admission Test (MCAT)
The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a standardized, multiple-choice examination designed to assess the examinee's problem solving, critical thinking, writing skills, and knowledge of science concepts and principles prerequisite to the study of medicine. Medical colleges consider MCAT exam scores as part of their admission process. Almost all U.S. medical schools require applicants to submit MCAT exam scores. Many schools do not accept MCAT exam scores that are more than three years old. MCAT, along with your grade point average (GPA) after finishing the Pre-medical requirements, is a critical factor that influences your success in gaining admission to a medical school.
Medical schools have different methods of dealing with MCAT scores if you have taken the MCAT more than once. Some schools take the highest score, some take the most recent, and others average all of the scores together. Contact the individual schools to see how they do this. Even if you are going to wait a few years to apply to medical school it is best to take the MCAT while you are still in college since the information is fresh in your mind and you.
MCAT Comprises of Four Parts:
- A Physical Sciences section which consists of Physics and Freshman/Introductory (Inorganic) Chemistry questions.
- A Biological Sciences section which consists of Biology and Organic Chemistry Questions
- A Verbal Reasoning (reading comprehension) section, which consists of passages and questions about them.
- A Writing Sample Section which consists of Two Essay Questions, half-hour each.
Scores are reported in Verbal Reasoning, Physical Sciences, Writing Sample, and Biological Sciences.
Preparation for MCAT
Commercial prep courses such as Kaplan, Princeton Review and others are helpful if you can afford them AND invest the time required to do the work, but they are not the panacea. To do well, you must have learned most of the stuff in you pre-med classes. Generally such courses run from $500-800 depending on the course and location, I guess.
Some people who have taken commercial courses such as Kaplan and Princeton. The provide access to their instruction material/review books, banks of sample exams and questions that these companies have developed.
Alternatively, if you have the self-control to study without externally-imposed deadlines and/or you think you do not need the instruction offered by the commercial review firms, you can save significant amounts of money by studying on your own using MCAT review books. There are three actual full-length MCAT exams available directly from the company that administers MCAT. In addition, firms such as Kaplan, Princeton, Columbia, ARCO, and many others publish MCAT review books with some decent material and stimulated MCAT exams.