MCAT Format

Get answers to the question what is the MCAT? Learn how the MCAT sections are divided, what content they include and what are the popular question formats.

 
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The MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) is a standardized, computer based test (CBT) whose purpose is to test the skills and knowledge of undergraduate students who wish to study medicine.

All medical schools in the United States and most Canadian medical schools require applicants to submit MCAT exam scores as part of the application process. The MCAT test also fulfills the requirement of a standardized test in other health professions and graduate programs. The test is administered by the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC).

There are four MCAT sections, listed in the order in which they appear in the exam:


Section 1: Physical Sciences

Time to complete this part: 70 minutes

Number of questions: 52 multiple choice questions


This MCAT section assesses knowledge and problem solving abilities in the fields of chemistry and physics. Questions are evenly divided between those two subjects. The section contains 7 to 9 passages, each with 4 to 8 multiple choice questions, and 13 stand-alone multiple choice questions that are not based on any passage. The passages are about 200-300 words long and describe a physical or chemical experiment or phenomenon.


  1. Learn more about MCAT physical sciences
  2. Try some free MCAT physics sample questions 


Section 2: Verbal Reasoning

Time to complete this part: 60 minutes

Number of questions: 40 multiple choice questions


This MCAT section assesses the ability to comprehend, evaluate and apply information given in a passage. The passages can present ideas from various fields such as humanities, social sciences and popular sciences. Specific subject knowledge in disciplines covered on the test is not assessed in this section. The section contains 7 passages, each about 600 words long, followed by 5 to 10 multiple-choice questions.


  1. Learn more about MCAT verbal reasoning
  2. Try a free verbal reasoning practice


Section 3: Writing Sample

Time to complete this part: 60 minutes

Number of essays to write: 2 essays


This MCAT section consists of two 30-minute writing essays. The essays are responses to a given topic statement. The writer should explain the issue raised in the statement, express his opinion, justify his position and provide examples. The essay needs to be written clearly and follow the rules of grammar, syntax and punctuation. The subjects presented in this section do not assess knowledge in scientific fields, nor in fields that are culturally and socially foreign to college students.


  1. Learn more about the MCAT writing sample
  2. Look at an MCAT sample essay


Section 4: Biological Sciences

Time to complete this section: 70 minutes

Number of questions: 52 multiple choice questions


This MCAT section assesses knowledge and problem solving abilities in the fields of biology and organic chemistry. Usually, about 60 percent of the section is dedicated to biological sciences, and the rest to organic chemistry.

The section consists of 7 passages, each with 4-8 multiple choice questions and 13 additional stand-alone multiple choice questions that are not based on any passage. Each passage is about 120-250 words long and describes a phenomenon or experiment.


  1. Learn more about MCAT biological sciences
  2. Try some free MCAT biological sample questions


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