Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)


The term Medical College Admission Test refers to an examination used by university medical schools as part of their admissions decision making process.  The MCAT tests the student's abilities in the areas of physical sciences (PS), verbal reasoning (VR), and biological sciences (BS), with scores that range from three to 45.


The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is used by the admissions departments of university medical schools to identify prospective students.  The test is administered 25 times, or more, throughout the year.  Results are available in roughly 30 to 35 days.  Schools typically require students to take the MCAT by December to be admitted to a program the following fall.

The test consists of five sections in three areas, plus a trial section.  Students have approximately five hours to complete the entire examination.  Multiple choice questions apply to the following:

  • Physical Sciences:  includes subject areas such as electronic structures and periodic tables, bonding, phases and phase equilibria, stoichiometry, thermodynamics, rate processes in chemical reactions, solution chemistry, acids and bases, electrochemistry, fluids and solids.
  • Biological Sciences: includes subject areas such as molecular biology, DNA and protein synthesis, microbiology, nervous and endocrine systems, circulatory and lymphatic systems, muscle and skeletal systems, respiratory and reproductive systems.
  • Verbal Reasoning: consists of questions in the areas of humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and technology.  Tests the student's ability to identify the central thesis of written passages, reasoning, background information that is relevant, relationships and unstated assumptions.

Each of the above areas is worth from one to 15 points, with a composite score that is the simple addition of the student's scores in each of the three areas.  The national average score is calculated each year and is typically designed to be around 25.  Generally, a score of 30 or higher is required to gain entry into a medical school.

In 2015, the MCAT examination is scheduled for a redesign, including the following sections:

  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

The length of the test will also increase from five hours to approximately six hours and 30 minutes.

Related Terms

associate's degree, bachelor's degree, master's degree, doctoral degree, Latin honors, dissertationSAT ACT, LSAT, GMAT, GREMAT, DAT, PCAT, MBE, NAPLEX