About The MCAT

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a standardized, multiple-choice examination designed to assess problem solving, critical thinking, and knowledge of science concepts and principles prerequisite to the study of medicine at the graduate level. Prior knowledge of General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, General Biology, Biochemistry, Physics, Psychology, and Sociology is required for this exam.

Almost all U.S. medical schools, many Canadian schools and Duke-NUS in Singapore require applicants to submit MCAT exam scores.

The exam is normally 7.5 hours long, so it is as much a test of stamina as it is about scientific aptitude and critical reasoning. However, in response to the growing concern over COVID-19 and its impact on MCAT candidates, the AAMC (the organization that administers the MCAT) temporarily reduced the MCAT exam duration to 5 hours 45 minutes until the end of the 2020 testing year. The testing cycle runs from January through September and you can view the test dates here.

Importantly, the MCAT is a combination of passage based questions as well as free-standing questions, with the majority being passage based. This means that the MCAT is not a test of rote memorization – you will need to apply the scientific concepts you’ve learnt to new situations and contexts you’ve never seen before. Being able to interpret and solve complex problems is essential to success on the MCAT.

About The MCAT

MCAT Test Format

The MCAT has four sections:

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

Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems

This section asks you to solve problems by combining your knowledge of chemical and physical foundation concepts with your scientific inquiry and reasoning skills.

It tests your understanding of the mechanical, physical, and biochemical functions of human tissues, organs, and organ systems. It also assesses your knowledge and application of the basic chemical and physical principles that underlie the mechanisms operating in the human body.

A periodic table is available during the MCAT, but a calculator is not.

  • Number of MCAT questions: 59
  • Time: 95 minutes
  • Types of questions: Passage-based (44) and free-standing (15)
  • Content covered:
    • Biochemistry, 25%
    • Introductory biology, 5%
    • General chemistry, 30%
    • Organic chemistry, 15%
    • Introductory physics, 25%

Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems

This section tests your knowledge of fundamental concepts that govern processes unique to living organisms. It also assesses your understanding of how cells and organ systems accomplish these processes, as well as your ability to reason about these processes.

  • Number of MCAT questions: 59
  • Time: 95 minutes
  • Types of questions: Passage-based (44) and free-standing (15)
  • Content covered:
    • Biochemistry, 25%
    • Introductory biology, 65%
    • General chemistry, 5%
    • Organic chemistry, 5%

Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

This section asks you to read and think about passages from a wide range of disciplines in the social sciences and humanities, followed by a series of questions that lead you through the process of comprehending, analyzing and reasoning. This section will require no specific content knowledge. Complex, thought-provoking passages will be excerpted from books, journals, and magazines. Each passage is around 600 words long and you will need to read and absorb information quickly to score well in this section.

  • Number of MCAT questions: 53
  • Time: 90 minutes:
  • Content covered:
    • Humanities, 50%
    • Social Sciences, 50%

Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior

This section tests your ability to solve problems by combining your knowledge of psychological, social, and biological foundation concepts with your scientific inquiry and reasoning skills. It assesses your understanding of how concepts in psychology, sociology, and biology apply to the sociocultural and behavioral aspects of human health. You will also need to demonstrate your ability to use research methods and statistics.

  • Number of MCAT questions: 59
  • Time: 95 minutes
  • Types of questions: Passage-based (44) and free-standing (15)
  • Content covered:
    • Introductory psychology, 65%
    • Introductory sociology, 30%
    • Introductory biology, 5%