MCAT

Contains:

What is the MCAT?

 
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via America Revere, MD

MCAT stands for Medical College Admission Test. It is a standardized, multiple-choice exam required by almost all U.S. and many Canadian medical schools. 

Divided into four sections it assesses your knowledge of:

  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems

  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems

  • Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior

  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

Without breaks, the MCAT is 6 hours and 15 minutes long. With breaks, the MCAT is around 7 hours and 30 minutes long.*

How is the MCAT Scored?

 

The number ​of correct answers for each section is converted to a scaled score ranging from 118 (lowest) to 132 (highest).

Scores for the four sections are combined to create a total score ranging from 472 to 528. The midpoint is 500.

While it is difficult to say what a "good" MCAT score is in the context of admissions because medical schools value all parts of the application differently, the average MCAT score for students admitted to an MD program in the U.S. is between 510 and 511.

MCAT Score.png

via AAAMC

 

How to Register for the MCAT?

Make an account on the AAMC website and reserve your test. The seats for each exam are limited and often fill up fast, so make sure to register as early as possible!

The fee for registering for the MCAT is $320. However, you can apply for the Fee Assistance Program for reduced registration cost and FREE AAMC products.

You should take your MCAT as soon as you've finished all your MCAT courses (see "How to Prepare for the MCAT" section) and prep work, so the information is as fresh in your mind as possible. Typically, people take it in the winter or spring of their junior year.

Nearby Test Centers

Wells Fargo Building

327 2nd St

Suite 370

Coralville, IA 52241

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Northwest Bank & Trust Company

100 East Kimberly Road

Suite 401

Davenport, IA 52806

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Colony Park Office Building

3737 Woodland Ave

Suite 340

West Des Moines, IA 50266

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Norwoods Professional Building

4507 N. Sterling Ave

Suite 302

Peoria, IL 61615

330-3304470_industry-names-starting-with
 

How to Prepare for the MCAT?

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via MedBros

Ultimately, your studying for the MCAT should reflect how you best study, but below you'll find some tips and resources to get you started if you're feeling a bit lost in the whole process.

  • Take and succeed in relevant courses at the University of Iowa​​

Freshman Year

CHEM:1110 Principles of Chemistry I

MATH:1460 Calc for Bio. Sci. 

    or MATH:1850 Calculus I

Sophomore Year

BIOL:1412 Div. of Form & Function

CHEM:2210 Organic Chemistry I

PSY:1001 Elementary Psychology

Junior Year

PHYS:1511 College Physics I

BIOC:3110 Biochemistry

CHEM:1120 Principles of Chemistry II

BIOL:1411 Foundations of Biology

SOC:1010 Intro. to Sociology

CHEM:2220 Organic Chemistry II

CHEM:2410 Organic Chemistry Lab

PSY:2130 Adv. Psychology for Pre-Med

PHYS:1512 College Physics II

Plan A

CHEM:1110 Principles of Chemistry I

MATH:1460 Calculus for Bio. Sciences

SOC:1010 Intro. to Sociology

CHEM:2210 Organic Chemistry I

BIOL:1412 Diversity of Form & Function

PSY:2130 Adv. Psychology for Pre-Med

CHEM:2410 Organic Chemistry Lab

PHYS:1512 College Physics II

Freshman Year

CHEM:1070 General Chemistry

MATH:1440 Math for Bio. Sci. 

Sophomore Year

CHEM:1120 Principles of Chemistry II

BIOL:1411 Foundations of Biology

PSY:1001 Elementary Psychology

Junior Year

CHEM:2220 Organic Chemistry II

PHYS:1511 College Physics I

BIOC:3110 Biochemistry

Plan B

For 10% OFF Kaplan use the code CLUB10

  • Make a study plan, planning out how much you have to study each day and for how long you want to study. Most people study for the MCAT for 2-6 months.

    • Try to build in flexibility as well so if something isn't working for you or you find you need an extra day to relax, you can don't have to disrupt your entire plan​

    • Build your study plan around the resources you choose to invest in (Kaplan, Princeton Review, Khan Academy, etc)

      • Don't be afraid to invest in these materials! If money is an issue, try to share with friends or ask seniors for their old materials

  • Maximize practice problems and tests. The structure of the MCAT questions is very unique and you don't want to first time you see it to be the day of your exam

    • Many test prep books and websites (listed in below bullets) ​offer practice problems and tests

    • The best quality tests come from the AAMC, since it is the organization that created the MCAT itself

      • The AAMC offers 4 practice exams ($35 each)​

  • Review books can be useful for compiling all your materials in one place and a great starting place for your studies. Most also include practice questions and exams. The top rated review books are:

  • Prep courses can be helpful for those with the money who study best with a class-like structure. The top rated prep courses are:

  • Anki is a common intelligent flashcard app used by medical students. It's free for desktop, and $28 for the mobile app. ​​​​​It is typically most helpful​ to create your own flashcards, but you can find some pre-made decks at the following links (may contain errors):

  • Review videos can be a good place to start or end study sessions as a quick and more entertaining and digestable review

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I took the MCAT in January of 2020, I studied for roughly 4 weeks. The general consensus is that you should study between 200-300 hours for the MCAT, some people prefer to spread this out over months, and others prefer to do it in a more compressed time frame. I think the decision on how long you should study should be made based on how much free time you have to spend studying. Personally, the only free period of time I had away from school and work was winter holiday, so I decided to study then. My strategy paid off, and I scored a 518, or in the 96th percentile

 

Though I started studying during the winter holiday, I roughly planned out how my days would look and what content I’d cover each day. I spent on average 12 hours per day, excluding days where I took practice tests. The resources I used were the 7-Book Kaplan MCAT set, ANKI, Jack Westin Cars Passages, Khan Academy, the AAMC Section Bank, and all 4 of the AMCAS Official Practice Tests. Some people choose to purchase a course, though I wouldn’t recommend this if you feel that you are able to maintain a strict study schedule on your own. The classes that prepared me most for the MCAT were Principles of Chemistry, Foundations of Biology, Organic Chemistry, and Biochemistry. I would also recommend taking psychology, but this subject is the easiest to self study.

 

 

 

 

The first week I dedicated to content review and went through a book per day (excluding the CARS book). I wrote down every concept in each chapter and marked it if it was “high yield”. I did not read the book in depth, but rather skimmed until I came across something I felt weaker on. The MCAT tests knowledge you should have already learned in your pre-med courses, so you shouldn’t need to deeply read the practice books. This took roughly 6 hours per book on average, the remaining 6 hours I broke down between doing ANKI flashcards for about 2 hours, Jack Westin CARS passages for 2 hours, and reviewing the difficult concepts of the day for another 2 hours. After I had gone through the content, I took my first practice exam. The AMCAS Practice Tests provide information on what questions you missed, what concepts that question tests, as well as the correct answer. I spent the weeks following each practice exam going over each question, regardless of if I got it right or wrong. For questions I got wrong, I would study the concept more in depth by either referencing the book or going through the related modules on Khan Academy. I did this a total of three times. I compiled a list of all the questions and concepts I missed and spent the final week looking over them. I took the 4th practice test two days before the real exam to determine where I stood.  

 

My overall experience with taking the MCAT was pleasant, I made sure to use all my time and not rush too much. I recommend that you take your breaks in their entirety to forget about the previous section and focus on the next one.

Aravin

Biochemistry & Economics

UI 2021

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Jasmeet

DMU

D.O. 2023

If you have a pre-med club or advisor, it may be a good idea reach out to ask for studying advice. You can also use the internet to research the most recent/popular study resources and strategies out there. It’s important that you start early and identify what works for you and then stick to it. The same thing does not work for everyone. Also make sure to incorporate practice questions.

Samiksha

Carver COM

M.D. 2022

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Do not feel pressured to take MCAT if you do not feel that you have enough time to study for it and do well. This is an intense exam that requires a lot of preparation and so it is best to find a time to take it when you feel you are really able to dedicate a lot of time and energy into studying. If you are taking it during undergrad, I recommend taking it either during winter break or summer break so that you will have at least some guaranteed free time available to just study for the exam! Also if you end up needing to take the exam twice, THAT IS OKAY! I took the exam twice and still got accepted. The main thing, again, is to take the exam when you feel that you have really taken the time to adequately prepare. You will inevitably reach a point where you have studied for weeks and weeks but still don’t quite feel ready – this is completely normal. There is so much on this exam it will be impossible to ever feel truly 100% prepared. Try and get through the majority of the material to the point where you are decently comfortable in your knowledge and understand the basics of each topic and take multiple practice exams. Your practice exam scores are usually very reflective of the range in which your actual score will be! Pick a resource or two and stick with it. I used the Exam Crackers book series as well as a few of the MCAT question packs on the AAMC website and self-studied for the exam. Some people like having more structure and choose to do Kaplan courses which has more scheduled studying and lecture materials, so if that works for you then great! And if not then that is fine too! Figure out what works best for you and stick with it. If you do all of this, I am sure you will be just fine!

You will do great! :)