The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a national standardized test designed to gage medical school applicants’ knowledge of basic science concepts, as well as their skills in problem-solving, critical thinking, and writing.
The MCAT exam is administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and is required of applicants to virtually all U.S. medical schools.
The Medical College Admissions Test is composed of 4 distinct sections, administered over 5 hours. The four sections, in the order they are administered, are Physical Sciences, Verbal Reasoning, Writing Sample, and Biological Sciences.
The Physical Sciences section of the exam consists of 52 multiple-choice questions which must be completed within 70 minutes. The questions in this section will cover basic concepts in physics and chemistry.
The Verbal Reasoning section of the exam consists of 40 multiple-choice questions which must be completed within 60 minutes. The questions in this section will be based on 500-word passages taken from the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. This section of the exam is not designed to test the candidate’s knowledge of the given subjects, but rather to assess reading comprehension and interpretation skills.
The Writing Sample section of the exam consists of two essays which must be completed within 60 minutes. The essay prompts are taken from areas of general interest, as for instance art, education, or ethics. The basic structure of the writing exercises requires the candidate to explain, elaborate, and evaluate a proposed argument. This section of the MCAT assesses the candidate’s ability to develop a central idea, synthesize diverse concepts and ideas, present ideas in a cohesive and logical fashion, and write according to the accepted conventions of grammar, syntax, and diction.
Finally, the Biological Sciences section of the exam consists of 52 multiple-choice questions which must be completed within 70 minutes. This section of the exam covers basic concepts in biology and organic chemistry. Candidates are expected to know the equations commonly used in the laboratory, though any other constants or conversions will be provided. Most of the questions in this section of the test will relate to 250-word passages describing a problem or situation.
More information about the MCAT
Visit the AAMC MCAT home page for official MCAT information.
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