A snapshot of the MCAT

Information provided by www.kaptest.com/mcat

Many people preparing for the MCAT fall prey to the myth that the exam is a straight forward science test. However, that's not completely the case.

The MCAT is primarily a thinking exam, testing your thought process, as well as your science knowledge. Every section is meant to gauge the higher-order thinking skills necessary for success in medical school:

  • analytical reasoning
  • abstract thinking
  • problem-solving


With this perspective, you may be left asking, "What about the sciences?"

Of course, you will have to know the basic, fundamental concepts of physics, general chemistry, biology, and organic chemistry. However, the key point is that knowing these basics is just the beginning of doing well on the MCAT.

Anatomy of the MCAT

The MCAT consists of four timed sections always appearing in the same order:

  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Physical Sciences
  • Writing Sample
  • Biological Sciences

Verbal Reasoning

  • 85 minutes.
  • 65 multiple choice questions.
  • 9-10 passages with 6-10 questions each.
  • Focus: critical reading skills.

Physical Sciences

  • 100 minutes.
  • 77 multiple choice questions.
  • 10-11 passages with 4-8 questions each.
  • 15 stand-alone questions.
  • Focus: basic chemistry and physics concepts, analytical reasoning, and data interpretation.

Biological Sciences

  • 100 minutes.
  • 77 multiple choice questions.
  • 10-11 passages with 4-8 questions each.
  • 15 stand-alone questions.
  • Focus: basic biology and organic chemistry concepts, analytical reasoning, and data interpretation.

Writing Sample

  • 60 minutes.
  • 2 essay questions.
  • 30 minutes per essay.
  • Focus: critical thinking, intellectual organization, and written communication skills.

Copyright ©2001 by Kaplan Inc. Medical College Admissions Test and MCAT are registered service marks of the Association of American Medical Colleges, which is not affiliated with this site.

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