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When to take the MCAT

Even though you’ve been out of school for a while, you know the MCAT is an inevitable part of medical school admissions. Perhaps you haven’t picked up a Bio or Organic Chemistry textbook for years, and you know there is a lot of preparation involved. You’re wondering which MCAT date will allow you enough time to prepare for the test, while still maintaining your time advantage for medical school admissions.

If it has been years since you graduated from college, there is a lot of material to brush up on. Luckily, since the AAMC changed the MCAT to computer-based testing, you have many more options—19 different dates to be exact.

From all of these options, which do you choose? Of course, take the MCAT in the same year that you plan to apply. April’s dates offer the most advantage because of rolling admissions. If you take the MCAT in April, you should get your score results in May. This puts you in front of the line for medical school admissions. “If your MCAT scores reach the medical schools by the time your AMCAS application is transmitted to them in early June, you’re ahead of the pack!” says Don Osborne, president of INQUARTA.

Are you considering May? The month of May is good, but no later. Remember, the quicker you take action, the more rolling admissions helps you become eligible for earlier secondaries and interview consideration.

Taking the MCAT in April or May will also give you a cushion in case you need to retake the MCAT. If you have to take the test over, June 15th is excellent as a second test date because you should get your scores back within approximately 30 days, making them available to medical schools by mid-July.

For those who believe August is the optimal time, with most of the summer to study for the test, consider that med schools will not receive your results until September. So be smart and plan ahead!

One important note - if you are planning a spring exam time, you need to be prepping over the winter holiday. If you are planning to take it in the fall, book the whole summer for MCAT prep. If you are determined to take the exam without having taken all the pre-requisites, or if you want to solidify your skills in a particular area you should consider an MCAT tutor in your area.

The New MCAT: CBT (Computer-based Testing) FAQ

How long will the new test be?
About five hours.

MCAT test dates? MCAT test sites?
You can register up to six months in advance and up do two weeks prior to the test date (you can even reserve seats and change your appointment). The MCAT is available at 13 international sites (Asia, Europe, Australia, Africa, the Middle East and North America) and 300 domestic sites.

So, should I take it now or later?
There are now 22 different days when you can take the test. Sessions are offered in the morning and afternoon, on weekdays and on Saturdays – so you can take it whenever you are ready. If you’re prepared and want to get it out of the way, take it as soon as you can. The test is virtually the same, so you should be studying the same amount. Made a date but not ready? You can change it: www.aamc.org/students/mcat/registration.htm.

Have the questions or content changed at all?
There are one-third fewer questions (146 to be exact) and the content will not be changed, so you should be studying the exact same topics as before.

I want to take a practice test on the computer.
Well, they’ve got one: www.e-mcat.com.

Can I make notes?
Actually, yes. You can make notes on the computer. You can edit until the allotted time for each section is up. And scratch paper is provided, just in case. But beware: there isn't spell-check (at least not yet).

When will I know my score?
The new MCAT gets your scores out to you much earlier. It should only take 30 days – and there’s talk of getting it down to 14.

What if I don’t pass the first time?
Just in case you don’t make it, try, try again. You can take the test a maximum of three times per year—unless you get special permission. There is no wait time, but make sure you only register for one test at a time.

What do I bring? How early do I have to be? What if I bring a jacket? Where can I put my stuff?
Arrive at least 30 minutes early to check in. You will be asked to provide your SSN, phone number, e-mail address, and payment info. Bring a government-issued ID (your driver’s license or passport are good choices, but make sure they haven’t expired). You can only bring you, your clothes, and a watch. The test-sites are climate-controlled, and you’re allowed to bring a jacket, but you must wear it throughout the entire test. If you have other personal items, locks and lockers will be provided. And turn off your electronic devices, even when they’re in the lockers.

I’ve got more questions!
The AAMC has a FAQ sheet too! http://www.aamc.org/students/mcat/cbtfaqs.pdf

For more information about becoming a qualified applicant, contact INQUARTA via the link below, at +01 800-987-3279 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . INQUARTA is the leading medical and allied health school admissions advising service in North America.

MCAT Prep Resources

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