MCAT: Test Logistics

Students take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) in order to apply to American (and other) medical schools via the AACOMAS and AMCAS applications. The test is designed, issued, and examined by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). If you haven't registered for your MCAT yet, you can do so right here! The MCAT essentials packet is required and important reading, so you should look at that as well

Fee/Scheduling Cost: $310 USD ($120 USD if you qualify for the Fee Assistance Program); check out our post about test dates (updated annually) here. 

Time Commitment/Duration: 7 hours, 30 minutes

What Do I Need?: Your identification must meet the following criteria:

  • ID must be issued by a government agency
  • ID must have a photo that can be used to identify you
  • Signature---you must have signed your ID in a fashion that is identifiable when you sign your MCAT
  • Current date (the expiration date must not have passed)
  • ID must be intact---no clipped corners, no holes punched for lanyards or otherwise, no major warping or defects
  • ID must match your name---your ID must match your first and last name as reported on your MCAT registration exactly, or test center administrators will reject it

What IDs Won't Work?: The following forms of ID are unacceptable, and will not grant you entrance to your MCAT exam:

  • School IDs
  • Employee IDs
  • Library cards
  • Temporary IDs of any nature, including IDs with an extension marker and paper IDs
  • Any ID that doesn't fit the description above, even if issued by a government agency

What Other ID Processes Happen?: Several other identification procedures occur on test day that you'll need to know about! Here's a quick timeline:

  1. You'll sign in first, and sign a statement in cursive regarding the validity of your MCAT exam and acknowledging that you won't disclose official test questions. 
  2. Your government-issued photo ID will be examined, and a photograph of you will be taken to verify your identity during the testing process. 
  3. Your fingerprints will be taken to ensure that your unique identity is permanently linked with your MCAT testing record. 
  4. You will be asked to turn out your pockets and to show that you don't have any unauthorized containers such as a wallet or purse on your person.
  5. You will be asked to raise your pant legs or skirt above your ankles.
  6. You will be asked to raise your shirt sleeves above your wrists. 
  7. You will be asked to remove your eyeglasses to demonstrate that they do not have recording capabilities. 
  8. You will be scanned with a metal detector. 
  9. Every time you enter the test room (including after your breaks), you will be asked to undergo these security procedures. 

Check out this great video from the AAMC to find out what a given test day will look like

What Does the Disclosure Agreement Entail?: The disclosure agreement is a legally binding contract that you will sign on test day, which affirms to the AAMC and others that you'll uphold certain ethical standards before, during, and after taking your MCAT exam. You'll state that you haven't studied using prohibited materials, that you won't discuss your MCAT with other students, that you are who you say you are, and several other things on at least five screens. Here's a few other things you may find helpful:

What Is Allowed in the Test Room?: There are several specific items that you're allowed to take into the testing room with you. All other items must remain in your locker and not on your person, and some items are not allowed in the test center at all. The allowed test room items include any of the following:

  • Test center-issued scratch paper and pencils
  • Your official photo ID
  • Test center storage key to your storage locker
  • Foam earplugs in a sealed container that the test center staff can inspect
  • Personal medical items as described here
  • You can bring food, water, and medication, but these items must remain in your locker while you are not on an official test break
  • Illegal items in the test room include: outerwear (heavy or rain jackets), food, drink, watches, and others (your test center will clarify if you have a question)

What Shouldn't I Bring?: There's a list of specific items that you shouldn't bring into the test center at all (not just the test room!). Glancing at or touching any of these items during the 7.5 hour test session you'll go through can disqualify you immediately, so leave them at home or elsewhere so you don't make a costly mistake! Any of these items are things that don't belong with you or on your person on test day:

  • Cell phones and electronic devices (you can and will be removed from your exam for touching or looking at these devices), including smartwatches, fitness trackers, and wearable technology
  • Weapons (no guns, knives, or other weapons are allowed at any MCAT testing facility)
  • Notes or study materials (you don't need these on test day and shouldn't look at them anyways!)
  • Do not leave the test center for any reason (going to the bathroom within the test center doesn't violate this condition)

Computer Adaptivity: The MCAT is not adaptive---all of your questions are pre-determined prior to your arriving at the testing center. However, you can answer the questions in each section in any order. 

Exam Sections:

  • MCAT Biological/Biochem: Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
    • 59 multiple-choice questions
    • 95-minute section
    • Tests basic biology, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, and biochemistry
  • MCAT Critical Analysis and Reading Skills (CARS):
    • 53 multiple-choice questions
    • 90-minute section
    • Similar to reading comprehension sections on other standardized tests
    • Passages come from a variety of humanities and social sciences disciplines
  • MCAT Chemical and Physical: Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
    • 59 multiple-choice questions
    • 95-minute section
    • Tests basic biochemistry, biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics
  • MCAT Social and Psych: Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
    • 59 multiple-choice questions
    • 95-minute section
    • Tests introductory psychology, sociology, and biology

Scoring: You'll receive 5 scores: 4 section scores (ranging from: 118-132) and 1 total score (ranging from 472-528). 

Percentiles: The best way to track percentile performance is to use information directly from AAMC.

Diagram Scaling: Diagrams are labelled as to whether or not they are drawn to scale. 

Calculator Allowed: No calculators allowed. That said, you won't need a calculator for the MCAT (you just need to be good at approximation). 

Score Reports/Sending Scores: Your scores are sent directly to your AMCAS (automatic) or AACOMAS (or other, non-automatic) applications. Your application and school fees will vary, though the AMCAS default is $160 for the first school and score report (and $38 thereafter), and the AACOMAS default is $195 for the first school and score report (and $40 thereafter). 

Cancellation Fee: There is no cancellation fee, but partial refunds of your score are available depending on how far out you cancel. For more specific information, see the AAMC guidelines on cancellation.

Rescheduling Fee: Rescheduling fees vary based on how far away from your test date you are. They fall into two broad categories (Standard or Fee Assistance), with subtiers called Gold, Silver, and Bronze. 

  • Standard
    • Gold Zone: 1 month or prior, $85
    • Silver Zone: 3-4 weeks prior, $145
    • Bronze Zone: no reschedule option
  • Fee Assistance
    • Gold Zone: 1 month or prior, $40
    • Silver Zone: 3-4 weeks prior, $60
    • Bronze Zone: no reschedule option

How Many Times Can I Take the MCAT?: 

  • No more than 3 times in a single year
  • No more than 4 times over a two year period
  • No more than 7 times in your lifetime

Other Important Links:


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