The healthcare industry continues to remain widely popular with students hoping to become employed in this diverse field. However, in order for a student to pursue a medical profession seriously, getting accepted into a good medical school is a must. One of the most important aspects of the application process for students involves taking the MCAT. Students that are unfamiliar with this exam will want to learn as much as they can about this test, what it requires of them and how they can prepare for the best results.
What is the MCAT?
Short for the “Medical College Admission Test,” the MCAT is a standardized test that can be seen as the medical school version of the SATs. By testing a student’s knowledge in specific areas, the results help admissions offices gauge whether or not the resulting scores reflect a student’s readiness to begin taking medical school level courses.
What Does the MCAT Cover?
Below is a basic breakdown of the four sections that make up the MCAT:
Verbal Reasoning: Students are given 60 minutes to answer this section’s 40 multiple-choice questions. Filled with 500 word passages covering the subjects of social sciences, humanities and natural sciences, the Verbal Reasoning section tests students’ interpretation and reading comprehension skills.
Writing Samples: Students have 60 minutes to write two essays based on prompts, which cover areas of general interest, such as art, ethics and education. The Writing Samples section is meant to test whether students can demonstrate the skills necessary to take a stance on a proposed argument by explaining central ideas, developing points to support their beliefs and evaluate the debate overall.
Physical Sciences: Students have 70 minutes to answer this section’s 52 multiple-choice questions, some of which appear in the form of 250-word passages. The Physical Sciences section covers the topics of chemistry and physics as they apply to the practice of medicine.
Biological Sciences: Students are given 70 minutes to answer this section’s 52 multiple-choice questions. Covering organic chemistry and biology, the Biological Sciences section also contains 250-word passages that deal with certain situations and/or call for problem solving abilities.
How to Prepare for the MCAT?
Like preparing for the SAT, there are a number of online study materials designed for students getting ready to take the MCAT. Free online practice tests and other resources are readily available through the Princeton Review and Kaplan Test Prep websites, as well as the official website for the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Using the practice tests is currently the most effective way to see which sections a student is proficient in and which sections require more study.
It is recommend to choose an MCAT test date during the winter or spring prior to the year that students plan on submitting to medical schools. Signing up to take the MCAT currently requires a $230 fee. Miscellaneous costs include registering late, changing the test location or rescheduling the test date, which means an additional $55 fee. Students hoping to take the MCAT at an international test site will have to add on an extra $65 to the original $230 registration fee.