The ProspectiveDoctor Podcast

Podcast 78: Getting to Know the MCAT

The Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) is one of the most important exams you will ever take. It is a critical part of your application to medical school and a significant determinant of your future success.  Join Dr. Marinelli and MCAT expert Ken Tao as they introduce you to the MCAT and what you should be thinking about in preparing to master this exam!

[0:49] An overview of the MCAT.

Pre-medical students that want to attend the majority of medical schools in the United States and Canada will have to take this exam.

The exam has four sections: Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems; Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS); Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems; and Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior. The three science sections are 95 minutes each, and the CARS section is 90 minutes.

Up until 2015, the scoring scale was between 1 and 15. The new system is still a 15-point scale, but it is now between 118 and 132. Right in the middle at 125 is the average score for each section.

[4:43] How long to study for the MCAT.

It often depends of the student’s specific situation, such as when they will take the MCAT. For the typical student, about 300 hours of studying is required. This can be compressed into summer or spread throughout the entire semester.

[8:11] The score to aim for.

Scoring the average, 500, would make it quite difficult to get into medical school. It’s not impossible, but it’s not considered a competitive score. The competitive MCAT score continues to rise each year, and in 2017-2018 the average score for matriculants was just over 510.

[10:38] The best route for studying.

The common ways are self-study, taking a test prep course, or looking for a private tutor. Regardless of which path you take, there are three things that Ken recommends all students do if they want to succeed. They are content review, practice questions/passages/tests, and creating an actual plan to improve their scores. Don’t just use practice questions to judge what you know; find out why you got certain ones wrong.

[16:45] Last thoughts.

Thank about the timing of your schedule early and really make sure you have dedicated time you can spend on MCAT studying.

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