Everything you need to know about the MCAT in one easy-to-understand guide.
Discover all you need to know about the MCAT test, including what is the MCAT, what subjects you need to study, when to take the MCAT and how it is scored.
Looking for free resources? We’ve got you covered! We will also share with you detailed study schedules to help you stay on track with your MCAT preparation. Read on to learn all you need about the MCAT test in our comprehensive guide.
The MCAT is 7 hours and 30 minutes long, including breaks. The image below shows the detailed breakdown of the four MCAT sections, the subjects included, the time allocated to each section, as well as the breaks.
Before the exam: sign in, present valid ID, have your fingerprints digitally collected, and have your test day photo taken.
Total content time: 6 hours 15 minutes
Total 'seated' time: 7 hours 33 minutes
Can anyone take the MCAT test? You can take the MCAT if:
you are planning to apply to a health profession's school such as allopathic, osteopathic, podiatric and/or veterinary medicine. This also applies to international students.
you are applying to any health-related program that will accept MCAT exam results.
you are enrolled in an MBBS degree program or if you have such a degree (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery).
During MCAT registration, you will be asked to verify your intention to apply to medical school or to a health profession's school.
There are no academic prerequisites to take the MCAT. Students with science and non-science backgrounds can take the MCAT exam and have the same opportunity to enter medical school.
However, there are recommended undergraduate courses that would help to optimize exam performance. It is important to recognize that recommended courses do not restrict the freedom in pursuing a wide variety of possible undergraduate academic programs (What college classes do you need to prepare for the MCAT exam?)
Prospective students usually arrange to take the MCAT a year before their intended matriculation into medical school. For example, if you are eyeing medical school in 2023, then you can take the MCAT in 2022 or before.
Since there are no academic prerequisites for the MCAT, you can take the MCAT as early as your freshman, sophomore or junior year of undergraduate studies as long as you feel that you are ready. You may consult with your pre-health advisor. (Read: How to determine when to take the MCAT)
One important consideration is whether or not you will re-take the MCAT. Should you feel that you might take the MCAT more than once, it's ideal to take the MCAT early in the testing year. This will give you time to receive your scores and make a decision.
Another consideration is readiness. Have you thoroughly prepared for the content and skills that are required for the MCAT? Ideally, you should start your MCAT prep at least six months prior to your test date. (2022 MCAT Test Dates)
The pie chart below shows that 2/3rds took the exam in August and September. This suggests that having most or all of the summer available for MCAT preparation may be one factor in gaining a high MCAT score.
You can take the exam up to three times in a single testing year, up to four times in a two consecutive-year period, and up to seven times in a lifetime. Obviously, you want to minimize the number of times you need to take such a rigorous exam, and that is clearly the value of good MCAT prep. Furthermore, medical schools will not review your application until they receive all your scores from the AAMC.
Number of Times Permitted to Take the MCAT
Single testing year
Up to 3 times
Two consecutive-year period
Up to 4 times
Up to 7 times
Note: A voided exam and a 'no show' are counted as attempts in taking the exam. There is no required waiting period before you can retake the MCAT. But you may be able to register for a new MCAT date 48 hours after your exam day.
To determine if you should retake the MCAT, know the average MCAT score required by the medical school of your choice as well as their acceptance rates. If your score is competitive, the focus might not be on the need to retake the MCAT. You may need to evaluate your medical school interview, or autobiographical materials, or possibly your GPA. If your GPA is low, you may benefit from additional undergraduate or graduate studies (consult your premed advisor for additional insight), or you may benefit from a higher MCAT score.
Some schools consider only your most recent score, whereas others will accept your highest score for each section.
In other cases, medical schools may rely solely on percentile rank when comparing your multiple scores.
Just keep in mind that medical schools will see all your MCAT attempts during their review of your application.
For guidance on how the MCAT is scored and to calculate your chances of getting accepted to medical school, click here: MCAT Scores.