June 24, 2013
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
The MCAT exam or the Medical College Admission Test has been a part of the medical school admissions process for over 80 years. Almost all medical schools in the US will want to see your MCAT scores when you apply for admission. Several graduate programs and health professions also recognize and accept MCAT scores in place of other tests.
The MCAT exam aims to assess you on certain knowledge and skills that expert medical educators have identified as fundamental for succeeding in medical school and practicing medicine.
This standardized multiple-choice test is divided into three sections – Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences and Verbal Reasoning.
While the MCAT exam is a crucial part of the application process, it is still only a part of the application process. Your MCAT scores by themselves will not affect your chances of getting admission into the medical school in question. Admissions committees take several factors into consideration before accepting or rejecting an application. Your exposure to health care and medical research environments, academic strengths, personal interests and experiences, and what you would potentially contribute to the campus and community are all taken into account.
If you are unhappy with your score, you can decide to re-take the exam if you want to. Ask your pre-health advisor if this is a good idea. You can take the MCAT exam up to three times a year.
The AAMC or the Association Of American Medical Colleges develops and administers the MCAT exam several times a year in partnership with its member US medical schools. These exams are held at hundreds of sites throughout the US and Canada, starting from late January through to early September.
The best time for you to take the exam is when you are fully prepared for it. It is a total waste of time to rush into taking the exam when you are not prepared and then debate over whether or not you should re-take it because you know you are capable of getting better scores. Ideally, you should take the test only after you have completed the basic level courses in the sciences that come under the umbrella of this exam – biological sciences, organic and inorganic chemistry, and physics. In any case, you have to remember that you will need to take the exam in the calendar year preceding the year in which you plan to enter medical school.
Another thing to keep in mind is that doing the test in the spring or summer after your junior year gives the admission committees the most time to review your application and the best chances of success.
There are a few changes being proposed in the MCAT exam and these will come into effect in the spring of 2015. The new exam, which will be called MCAT2015 will consist of 4 sections instead of the earlier 3.