Now that we’ve covered the structure and scoring of the MCAT, let’s look at how best to prepare for the test.
Scoring well on the MCAT requires mastering the material in your pre-med courses. Generally, medical schools require that applicants take the following courses:
- 1 year of biology, with labs
- 1 year of physics, with labs
- 1 year of general or inorganic chemistry, with labs
- 1 year of organic chemistry, with labs
- 1 year of English
We also advise that you take additional coursework in subjects covered in the MCAT. Refer back to our discussion in the blog post on Pre-Med Academic Preparation.
Test Preparation Options
Once you have taken the relevant courses for the content covered in the MCAT, you are ready to register and prepare for the exam! We recommend doing test prep for at least 3-4 months before taking the test.
There are a variety of options for MCAT test prep, including:
- Courses, such as those offered by the Princeton Review, Kaplan and Blueprint, either in-person or online; the courses vary in the intensity in terms of how many sessions per week, the length of each session; and how many total weeks they last. You should also consider how many full-length practice tests will be included; we advise taking between 6-10 practice tests, depending on the progression of your scores and the score ranges of accepted students at the medical schools on your list.
- Individual test prep tutor. The most expensive option is to work with an individual test prep tutor, either through a test prep company or with individual tutors who are experienced in test prep. You could do all of your test prep with a tutor; or take a course and then supplement the course with a few sessions with a tutor to focus on targeted areas.
- Self-study. If you decide to self-study, establish a schedule and curriculum, and be disciplined in sticking to it! You could buy a few review books to see all the topics that are covered and a variety of ways to organize the material, and then develop a plan that works for you.
The MCAT is administered across the United States and in selected international countries. In the US, it is offered at test centers 25 times a year, from January through September. The frequency at international centers varies by country. As per the AAMC regulations, applicants can take the MCAT up to three times in a single testing year, four times during a two consecutive-year period, and seven times in a lifetime. The way admissions committees evaluate multiple scores varies by school.
Applying to medical school is a long and challenging process. For more information or guidance regarding the MCAT, or any other aspect of the admissions process, contact Collegiate Gateway – we’re always happy to help.