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Shortened MCAT – How to Modify Your Study Plan

On April 24, 2020, the AAMC announced that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the MCAT will be shortened. The new shortened MCAT will certainly cause some anxiety among test-takers, so we’ve collected a few FAQs about the new MCAT length and compiled them here!

What is the new MCAT length?

A shortened MCAT exam will be administered from May 29 to September 28 to accommodate three test appointments per test date at test centers. The exam will be 5 hours and 45 minutes instead of the usual 7 hours and 30 minutes. Examinees will still be tested on content from all four sections of the exam and are responsible for knowing the same concepts and skills that are tested on the full-length exam.

If you are taking AAMC practice exams, you can find out which questions you can skip to simulate a score from the full-length exam using the MedSchoolCoach MCAT Score Practice Exam Conversion Calculator. This tool also allows you to enter the number of correct answers you received on your practice exam to see your simulated MCAT score and what percentile you would rank into.

How will MCAT scoring change? Will my score come out sooner?

The MCAT scoring will not change. It will still be scored from 472 to 528, same as the longer version of the exam. One change is that your score will come out sooner; they will be released in 2 weeks instead of the usual 4 weeks.

How many questions/passages will there be on the new shortened MCAT? How will the shortened MCAT exam be structured?

SectionNumber of QuestionsTime Allotted
Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems4876 minutes
Break (optional)10 minutes
Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills4876 minutes
Mid-Exam Break10 minutes
Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems4876 minutes
Break (optional)10 minutes
Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior4876 minutes
Void Questions2 minutes
Test Content Time5 hours and 15 minutes
Test "Seated" TimeApprox 5 hours and 45 minutes

How will the new MCAT length affect admissions to medical school?

Given that the MCAT length is shortened, but that the score range remains the same, it’s unlikely that medical schools will consider scores from this administration any different than previous ones. If you took the MCAT previously, your score will be weighed against applicants taking the new exam the same.

Will the shorter test allow testers to get a higher score?

If you are a test taker who gets tired and fatigued towards the end of the usual 7.5 hour exam,  it’s possible that you can do better on the shorter exam. However, keep in mind that the MCAT is curved and so all test takers will have this same advantage.

What time should I take the test?

Since there will be multiple administration of the test on a given day, you should try to choose the time that works best for your study habits. If you are an early bird, take the early exam. If you don’t do well in the morning, try to schedule the later dates!

Will my May 29th exam be canceled?

Decisions will be made next week about the status of the May 29 exams and will be communicated by email. We will continue to follow local and state health guidance to determine which locations will be affected. At this time we anticipate testing in some centers, but not all.

How should I modify my study plan?

Your study plan should likely stay the same. Since there are now confirmed new dates, you can keep your high yield AAMC questions for closer to the study date. Since the subjects (CARS, Psych/Soc, Bio/Biochem, Chem/Phys) will all be tested as equally as before, you should study in the same distribution as before.

When can I sign up for the new test? How many test dates have been added?

According to AAMC’s website, registration will open on May 7 for the updated MCAT Testing Calendar for three new test dates  (June 28th, September 27th, and September 28th). Previously announced new dates can be found here.

What if the COVID-19 pandemic continues or more people get infected?

The information that AAMC put out is based on the current understanding of the situation and certainly can change. There are places that are clearly more affected than others and testing centers may still be closed by Governor orders in those areas. We’d suggest continuing to remain flexible and open-minded in your approach to the MCAT and admissions this year!

For more information on the shortened MCAT, visit the AAMC website and our 2020 Medical Application Changes Tracker. If you have any additional questions, you can always reach out to us at pdr@medschoolcoach.com.

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Sahil Mehta

Sahil Mehta M.D. is an attending physician in the Department of Radiology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the Founder of MedSchoolCoach. Dr Mehta is one of the world’s experts on medical school admissions having founded MedSchoolCoach in 2007. MedSchoolCoach provides admissions consulting to premedical students in the form of interview preparation, essay editing and general advising. In the past 10 years, he has had a hand in over a thousand acceptances to medical school.

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