October 16, 2013
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
The MCAT or the Medical College Admission Test is a national standardized test administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). The MCAT exam is required of students applying to almost all U.S. medical schools. It is designed to evaluate and assess medical school applicants on their knowledge of basic science concepts, as well as their skills in critical thinking, problem solving and writing.
1. Physical Sciences, which includes general chemistry and physics
2. Biological Sciences, which includes biology and organic chemistry
3. Verbal Reasoning
4. Writing Samples
Knowing how the MCAT test is scored can help you be better prepared for it.
Except for the section on Writing Samples, the other three sections (physical sciences, biological sciences and verbal reasoning) are in multiple choice format.
The grading is done based only on the number of correct answers. The wrong answers are ignored- there are no negative points. This means even if you are not sure of the answer, it is better to attempt it rather than to leave it unanswered.
The total scores that you get on these three multiple choice tests are converted to scaled scored based on a 15 point scale, in which 15 is the highest score.
In addition to the multiple choice test, you also have to submit 2 writing samples. Both writing samples are graded on a 6 point scale. This scoring is done by 2 different readers independently, which results in 4 preliminary writing sample scores for each exam. These 4 scores are added together to determine your total ‘raw’ score for the Writing sample section. The raw score is then converted to a letter grade ranging from ‘J’, which is the lowest score to ‘T’, which is the highest score.
For most medical schools in the U.S., your MCAT scores are as important as your GPA. If, by any chance the GPA and the MCAT score offer a conflicting assessment of any applicant, the majority of the schools will consider the MCAT score.
The best way to know whether you are ready to take the MCAT exam is by doing practice tests. There are several standardized test prep organizations including the AAMC, Princeton Review and Kaplan, which offer MCAT practice tests. You can also order updated versions of retired MCAT exam papers through the AAMC.
Your scores on these practice tests can help you determine whether or not you are ready to take the test. If you are not satisfied with the scores on your practice tests, you know you need to spend some more time studying before you attempt conquer the real thing. These tests also help you identify your strengths and weaknesses so you know where you need to spend more time preparing. You are ready for the MCAT exam when you are sure that you are all prepared and have done the best you can do on the mock tests.