Taking the MCAT
Information compiled by the GradSchools.com team - last updated December 2010
Nobody likes tests, but if you're planning to go to medical school, you're almost certainly going to need to take the MCAT so here's a little information to help you on your way.
The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is astandardized, multiple-choice examination that is a required component for application to most medicalschools in the United States as well as many in Canada. The test was designed by the Association of AmericanMedical Colleges (AAMC) to assess problem solving, critical thinking, and writing skills as well as the test-taker's knowledge of scienceconcepts that are necessary pre-requisites to study medicine.
The exam is scored in four areas:
- Verbal Reasoning
- Writing Sample
- Physical Sciences
- Biological Sciences
The physical sciences tests knowledge of physics and general chemistry while the biological sciences tests biology and organic chemistry.
Interestingly enough, your scores are based on a curve so that your performance on the test is actually measured in comparison to everyone else who took it. All the sections except the Writing Sample are judged on a scale of 1 - 15. The Writing Sample score is converted to a letter score ranging from a low J to a high T. Typically a score of 30 or higher on the MCAT is considered quite competitive. It is also desirable to have balanced rather than lopsided scores on the three different scored sections.
Studying to take the MCAT is very important. It is best to try to take the test only once and in order to perform well, you will need to have a firm foundation in biology, chemistry, physics, and organic chemistry. Conceptual understanding in addition to just knowing facts is vital.
There are many MCAT books and practice tests available. Be familiar with the test and the format and questions you'll be dealing with so nothing is a surprise on test day. You could take a test prep course depending on your ability to discipline yourself to study and your desire to have help planning your study efforts.
Plan, prepare, and good luck on your MCAT!
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