Everything You Wanted to Know about the MCAT


Now let’s talk more about the


Everything You Wanted to Know About the MCAT

(But Were Afraid to Ask)

Christina Chapman, MS4

Derek Mazique, MS1

Alyssa Reyes, MS1

A lesson learned…

Janell’s Case: MCAT Stress

Janell was a junior and studied for the MCAT for two months. She hadn’t taken organic chemistry yet but heard it was only a minor part of the test, so she wasn’t worried. To prepare for the biology section, she studied intently from her dusty biology book that she used freshmen year for Bio 101. She registered a month before the test, and was surprised when she got put at a testing site 1 hour away and had to wake up early on testing day. When her scores came back, she felt frustrated as she got seven points below the average for her target school.

How can we help Janell?

Create an Academic Schedule

Learn about the subject areas tested in the MCAT



General Chemistry

Organic Chemistry

All sections except the Writing Sample will have many, many passage-based questions!

Don’t forget about the Verbal Reasoning and Writing sections of the MCAT

Consider summer programs or scholarships that provide free or reduced MCAT prep

You should plan on taking the MCAT at least during the spring of the year in which you plan on applying to med school

Have a conversation with your pre-medical advisor ASAP to discuss your plan

Preparing for the MCAT

Don’t resort to calling yourself a “bad test taker”

Study, seriously, don’t be the type who sits in the library and talks to your friends

However you prepare, do lots and lots and lots of practice MCAT’s. These will be your best predictors of performance on the real exam.

Read explanations for all correct and incorrect answer choices

If you have a wide variability in your practice test scores, you’re probably not ready

Test Prep Courses

Berkeley Review, Kaplan, Exam Krackers (EK) and Princeton Review (PR) all provide materials and may provide in-class tutoring

PR, Kaplan, and EK allow you to sit in on the course

 Each company has its own strengths and weaknesses

Prep books (sometimes with accompanying CD-ROMs) by Kaplan, Princeton

Review, and other companies can be purchased new or used off websites like

Amazon.com for prices ranging from $6 to $110.

Preparing for the MCAT continued

Nature is an excellent resource for reading comprehension of scientific articles. Devote time reading it in order to develop speed and understanding

The AAMC provides one free practice exam online

 each from website

Order others for $35 www.e-mcat.com

– This site includes free access to a single, full-length MCAT with all the features of MCAT Practice Online. For a fee ($40), you can access hundreds of additional MCAT items, including several full-length practice tests. Additional features include automated scoring, diagnostic reports, and daily test-taking tips.

However you prepare, spend at least three months of intensive studying before taking the MCAT

More Creative Ways to Prepare!

Free on Facebook! The Kaplan MCAT Qbank Daily

Challenge app is free from Kaplan Test Prep and gives you daily MCAT practice questions.

Several iPhone apps – Search “MCAT”

Both Kaplan and Princeton Review give FREE practice

MCATs to advertise their services – take advantage of these sessions!


Register early and sign up with the AAMC Medical Minority

Applicant Registry (Med-Mar) Program when you take the


 The registry distributes biographical information about examinees and their MCAT scores to diversity/multicultural and admissions offices of medicals schools interested in increasing opportunities for applicants who are underrepresented or are economically disadvantaged.

MCAT: Test Day and Beyond

Get sleep the night before

If you get stuck on a problem, move on and come back to it later

Pace yourself with a watch

Continue to live life while your wait for your scores

Retake if necessary, but study harder – again, for 3 months or more – or else your score will be unlikely to improve

How is the MCAT Scored?

How are these sections scored?

Physical Sciences (gen. chem and physics), Verbal Reasoning, and Biological Sciences (organic chem. and biology) are all scored on a scale of 1 (low) to 15 (high)

The Wring Sample section consists of 2 essays, with each scored on a scale of 1 (low) to 6 (high)

This is eventually converted to an alphabetic scale from J to T

Aim To Take the MCAT Once, but if you take it more than once …

Know that medical school admissions committees have varying methods to evaluate multiple sets of

MCAT scores.

Some will take your latest set of MCAT’s (Penn Med)

Others average scores

Still others might take your highest score from each set of


Christina Chapman, MS4 [email protected]

Derek Mazique, MS1 [email protected]

Alyssa Reyes, MS1 [email protected]