MCAT (Medical College Admission Test)

The MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) is a standardised test for examining the suitability of students for medical studies abroad. He has been used for over 80 years to select prospective medical students in the USA and Canada. The MCAT is carried out by the test provider Prometric on behalf of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), which connects most medical faculties at US and Canadian universities.

Target group of the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test)

While in Germany you can start your medical studies right after school, in the USA and Canada it is not possible to apply for a medical school directly after high school. A Bachelor’s degree is required instead. This is followed by a four-year medical studies program, which culminates in the M. D. (Medical Doctor).

Many US-American and Canadian students choose a major subject for their bachelor’s degree or even take part in a so-called Pre-Med programme, which is designed to prepare students for later medical studies. In principle, however, the application at the Medical School is open to Bachelor graduates of all disciplines.

Against this background, it is understandable that the Medical Schools use a test such as the MCAT to select their applicants. It is an important criterion for comparing the suitability and skills of applicants, some of whom have very different backgrounds, with each other. For this reason, both local and international applicants must take the test.

Test contents and test structure of the MCAT

The MCAT checks the following three areas:

  • Physics and Chemistry (Physical Sciences)
  • Biology (Biological Sciences)
  • verbal reasoning (Verbal Reasoning)

It takes about 4 hours and 5 minutes and consists mainly of multiple-choice questions.

Questions in the field of Physical Sciences examine problem-solving skills in the general areas of these two fundamental disciplines. This takes 70 minutes.

Verbal reasoning takes 60 minutes. The questions examine the reading comprehension on the basis of given text passages. The texts can come from the humanities, social sciences or natural sciences and do not require any special knowledge. A good basic knowledge is certainly helpful.

The examination part of the Biological Sciences course lasts 70 minutes and includes questions on the basics of biology and organic chemistry.

Trial section

Until 2013, there was an additional section – the Writing Sample. However, this has now been abolished. It has been replaced by the so-called Trial Section. This voluntary section lasts 45 minutes and is not included in the assessment. The trial section contains questions for future test versions, which will be tested in this way under realistic conditions.

MCAT rating scale

Each of the three parts of the test is evaluated on a scale from 1 (low) to 15 (high). The total score is the sum of the three individual scores. The optional trial section is not evaluated, but the test participants themselves receive feedback on their performance in this area when the tasks are dealt with seriously.

Repetition of the MCAT

It is possible to repeat the MCAT to improve your score. However, the test can only be taken up to three times within 12 months. If you feel that the MCAT didn’t perform well after the test, you can have the test deleted immediately. This means that it is not evaluated at all and is therefore not included in the maximum number of tests that can be carried out each year.

Preparation for the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test)

A thorough and long-term preparation for the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) is essential. Many local students start preparing for the MCAT at an early stage in their bachelor’s degree program. Admission to the medical schools in the USA and Canada is highly competitive. The competition is thus fierce, especially as only a small proportion of the places at medical schools are awarded to international applicants each year.

But it is not only the preparation of the content that is important. In the unfamiliar test situation, you should also know as precisely as possible what to expect. Therefore, participants should also consider the test structure and evaluation methods beforehand.

The AAMC offers various learning aids to prepare for the MCAT. The MCAT website also provides free access to the subject areas examined in the MCAT. On the other hand, the Official Guide or the Official MCAT Self-Assessment Package can be purchased for a fee on the same page.

Test centres, examination dates and registration

The MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) is offered several times a year in different test centres in Germany. Unfortunately, there is currently no test centre in Austria and Switzerland. A list of all test centres worldwide as well as the current examination dates can be accessed via the MCAT Scheduling and Registration System. To do so, you must first register on the official MCAT website of Prometric. The registration for the test itself is then done in the same way.

Registration at least four weeks in advance is recommended. The organizer AAMC divides the registration deadlines into:

  • a gold zone (about four weeks in advance)
  • a silver zone (about three to four weeks in advance)
  • a bronze zone (about one to two weeks in advance)

The later the registration takes place, the less flexibility remains in case the examination date has to be changed again.

When choosing the examination date, it is also important to observe the application deadlines of the medical schools at which the application is to be made. Before the results of the MCAT are available, it can take 30 to 35 days.

Costs and financing possibilities of MCAT

The registration fee for the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) is US$275 for registration within the Gold or Silver Zone and US$325 for registration within the Bronze Zone. In addition to this, there is an international fee of US$ 90 for examinations outside the USA, i. e. a total of US$ 365 to US$ 415 (depending on the date of registration), which means that fees can only be paid online by credit card.

Official website of the MCAT:

Preparation courses for the MCAT

Medicalschoolinsidetrack – Proven Successful Medical School Admissions System from a Former UCLA Admissions Committee Member (fee required)