Medical College Admission Test

From Academic Kids

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a standardized test administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) to prospective medical students as a means to standardise comparison between them for purposes of admission to medical school. The exam is currently taken entirely on paper. However, a computer-based version will be offered at select testing sites in the fall of 2005, and all future administrations of the exam starting in the spring of 2006 are expected to be computer-based.



The test is given twice a year, once in April and once in August. The test consists of four sections: verbal reasoning (VR), physical sciences (PS), biological sciences (BS), and a writing sample (WS). The verbal, physical science, and biological science sections are multiple-choice. The writing sample is evaluated with two short essays. Scores for the multiple-choice sections range from 1 to 15. Scores for the writing section range from J to T. Often, the numerical scores are added together to give a composite score. For example, if one's score on the physical, verbal, and biological sections is 12, 13, and 11, respectively, then the composite score would be 36. The score from the writing sample may also be appended to the composite score (e.g. 36S).

Exam administration

Section Questions Minutes
Physical sciences 77 100
Verbal reasoning 60 85
Writing sample 2 60
Biological sciences 77 100

The physical sciences section is administered first (prior to the April 2003 MCAT, verbal reasoning was the first section of the exam). It is composed of 77 multiple-choice questions related to general chemistry and physics. Exam takers are allotted 100 minutes to complete this section of the exam.

The verbal reasoning section follows the physical sciences. Exam takers have 85 minutes to answer 60 multiple-choice questions evaluating their comprehension, evaluation, and application of information gathered from written passages. Unlike the physical and biological sciences sections, the verbal reasoning section does not require specific content knowledge in order to perform well.

After the verbal reasoning section is a 60-minute lunch break followed by the writing sample. Examinees are given 60 minutes to compose responses to two essay prompts. Responses are scored together on a scale of J-T, T being the highest score possible.

The final section of the exam is the biological sciences section. Examinees have 100 minutes to answer 77 multiple-choice questions related to organic chemistry, biochemistry, and biology.


Like some other professional exams (e.g. the LSAT) the MCAT may be voided if the exam taker is not satisfied with his or her performance on the day of the exam.

While wristwatches are allowed, the AAMC prohibits the use of calculators, timers, or other electronic devices during the exam [1] (

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