MCAT Preparation Guide 2020: Basics, Eligibility and the Best Ways to Prepare

The Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) is no joke. Completion of the standardized test is a necessity for anyone looking to enter medical school in USA, and there are limitations on how many times you can take the test. That means that making sure you have the preparation you need before you ever step into the testing room is of critical importance.

Almost half of students who sit for the MCAT have to return to take the test again. Fortunately, there are a number of resources available to aspiring medical school students. In this article, we will learn about the basics of MCAT exam and how to prepare for it.

MCAT: The Background

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In the United States, The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is the entrance examination which is the pre-requisite for admission in all medical colleges in the United States. 

This Medical Entrance Examination is set by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). The Association of American Medical Colleges maintains the level of difficulty as per the circumstances. This Association administrates the examination almost throughout the year. Roughly in the months of January, March, April, May, June, and July. 

MCAT: Exam Format

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) has a very scientifically designed format. This examination is a standard Multiple Choice Questions examination. Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) has a special format which assesses the critical thinking, problem-solving, application-based writing and thinking skills of the aspirants.  

Besides this,  to evaluate the knowledge of science and clarity of concepts is the major goal of the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).  The students are graded based on their performance in Conceptual knowledge in Physics, Chemistry and of course Biology. 

In addition, verbal knowledge is also tested in the examination. These aspects are recommended to be checked by experienced medical educators and physicians. A panel of experts determines whether an aspirant deserves a medical seat or not!

Doesn’t that sound scary? Calm down it is not an impossible task to find your way to the best medical college.

MCAT: Basics that you should know

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) consists of the following format, which is ultimately designed by the Association of American Medical Colleges:

  • Reasoning and critical thinking skills
  • Psychological, biological and social foundations of human behavior
  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • Biological and Biochemical Foundation of Living Systems

MCAT: Professions You Can opt for

With The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), aspirants can opt for the following professions only:

  1. Allopathy
  2. Osteopathy
  3. Veterinary Medicine
  4. Podiatry

Eligibility for MCAT Exam

  • Students from U.S. and Canada must have a UG degree to be eligible for the exam.
  • Students from foreign countries need to present a statement of intention. This is to verify their actual intention to apply for this profession via The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).
  • Foreign candidates must be pursuing or have completed MBBS to sit for MCAT.
  • Aspirants who do not want to apply to any health professional institute need to take special permission to appear in the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). If the candidate already has an MBBS degree, he/she doesn’t need any special permission to appear in The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).
  • The aspirants who want to appear in The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), have to submit a copy of their school transcript beforehand to the health profession institute. Because the Association of American Medical Colleges didn’t accept international transcripts.

MCAT: Test Centers

While there are several test centers in USA, there are zero centers for The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) in India.  So, if any student or aspirant wants to give the exam, he/she must travel to Thailand, Malaysia or Singapore in order to appear in The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).

Remark: Don’t be confused with CAT Exam.

MCAT: Examination Fee

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) indeed charges a fair amount of examination fee. According to INR, the fee is roughly 25,750 rupees. If we talk in dollars, the examination fee for The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is USD 310. There are extra charges for an international student of which can be around USD 100. 

How to Prepare for MCAT Exam?

The Association of American Medical Colleges provides the aspirants with a huge range of study material for the best preparation for The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Although the full syllabus and study material are available on various online websites. 

Still, it is definitely advisable to refer to the official website of The Association of American Medical Colleges to get relevant material only. In addition to this, The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) study material is also available on Amazon. Lastly, we would suggest that you refer only to the official outline of the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) from the official website only.

MCAT: Test day

This is how the test is conducted:

  • The test begins with a 10-minute long Examinee Agreement. 
  • Then there is a 10-minute long tutorial which is optional.
  • First test is from the Chemical and Physical foundation of Biological systems. It consists of 59 questions and has a duration of 95 minutes.
  • Then there is the first break of 10 minutes.
  • Then comes the critical analysis and reasoning skills. This section consists of 53 questions. 90 minutes are allotted to this section.
  • Then there is a second break or mid-exam break of 30 minutes.
  • Then comes the Biological and Biochemical Foundation of Living Systems. This section comprises of 59 questions. This section has allotted 95 minutes.
  • Again, there is a short break of 10 minutes.
  • Then comes the Psychological, Social and Biological foundation of behavior. This section consists of 59 questions and is allotted 95 minutes.
  • Then comes various short sections viz. Void Questions and Satisfaction Survey. The time allotted for both of these is 5-5 minutes each. That means a total of 10 minutes.

Total examination time for The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) comes out as Six hours and fifteen minutes. Whereas total gross time, which includes total examination time as well as total break time is seven hours and thirty-three minutes approximately.

So, overall, we can conclude that the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) is no joke.

Preparation is a must.

Fortunately, there are a number of resources available to aspiring medical school students. Here are three of the best.

Online Prep Courses

While disciplined self-learning from traditional books is a practical necessity when preparing for the MCAT, the structure offered by MCAT prep courses can be a huge boon for aspiring med students. The advantage of online prep courses is that they’re overseen by experts who understand the exams inside and out, and they can provide you with the guidance and insight you need to ace the test.

Many students come to the test without much of an understanding of what to expect, and that means that they may cast their nets wide in terms of study materials. Online prep courses can provide a more focused and curated curriculum that can result in efficient studying patterns and serve as a guiding light for students even as they pursue their self-guided learning programs. But that doesn’t mean you need to jump right in to an online prep course. Students can also find free practice tests that can help them put their studies in perspective.

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AAMC Resources

The aforementioned practice prep test offered by AAMC is free for everyone, but it’s just a sample of what students can expect when they enter the testing room. Moreover, it’s not scored, so students only receive an unscaled percentage of their results. But the AAMC also offers two study tests that can be purchased directly through their site. That said, these are paid tests, so students should consider waiting until they’re well into their studies before springing for them.

That doesn’t mean that you have to go without guidance until you make the plunge into the practice tests. The AAMC also offers 300 practice questions that students can use to cut their teeth. They use real questions from older versions of the MCAT and cover Chemistry, Physics, Biology, and Critical Analysis and Reasoning.

Online Calendars

Studying for the MCAT can be a long and rigorous process. It’s recommended that students spend about three months studying for the exam, and it can be easy to miss the forest for the trees. That’s why it’s important to space out learning to make sure that you’re covering the whole curriculum and revisit subjects regularly over the course of your extended studies.

An online calendar allows you to chart the course of your studies ahead of time and prepare for the well-rounded range of subjects covered within the test. The advantage of using an online calendar over a traditional one is that you can connect to it via any device with internet access.

Studying for the MCAT can sometimes feel like running a marathon, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t light at the end of the tunnel. Students employ different methods for learning new materials, but there’s a wealth of resources available to suit anyone’s style.

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This article was written by Gaurav Tiwari

Blogger. Developer. Designer and Digital Marketer.

2 comments add your comment

  1. Hey Gaurav Tiwari ,

    Excellent post with Fab-work. I truly appreciate your hard-work.

    Glad to say that you have suggested helpful guide especially for those aspirants who are preparing for MCAT. You have explained very nicely along with all the crucial & every necessary details, information that is true enough to understand. I really like your MCAT test day conducting schedule and it will helps a lot in understanding the MCAT test process.

    After going through this post i really got helpful ideas and according to me this is a perfect guide to know about MCAT.

    Eventually thanks for sharing your knowledge and such an informative post.

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