Preparing for the MCAT

Although the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) is designed in part to measure the knowledge and skills that are acquired over the course of a long education, it also assesses some specific knowledge that can be studied beforehand. In particular, success on the science sections of the MCAT will require basic knowledge of chemistry, biology, and physics.

Some students prepare for the science sections of the MCAT by reviewing old course work, while others prepare by reading scientific journals. The Association of American Medical Colleges provides a number of practice test items on-line so that students can familiarize themselves with the format and level of difficulty of the MCAT. Unlike in the science sections of the exam, success on the Verbal Reasoning section of the MCAT does not depend on any specific prior knowledge. The skills necessary to score well on this section are those required in any undergraduate course in the humanities, social sciences, or natural sciences.

Again, the AAMC provides on-line resources so that students can acquaint themselves with the kind of questions that will be asked in the Verbal Reasoning section of the MCAT. Finally, preparing for the Writing Sample section of the MCAT is best accomplished by practicing this kind of writing task. The MCAT asks students to clearly and logically describe an argument, develop a possible counterargument, and then attempt to reconcile the two. A great way to prepare for this section of the exam is to choose an argument from a book, magazine article, or editorial, and then compose a writing sample. After completing the practice sample, it is a good idea to have another person read it and evaluate it for coherence and quality.

MCAT Preparation information provided by Morrison Media LLC, publisher of the MCAT Secrets Study Guide and MCAT Flashcard Secrets.


The level of difficulty in the science sections of the MCAT is meant to be commensurate with introductory undergraduate course work in each discipline. Although some questions will require the recall of basic information, students should also practice reading and interpreting scientific tables and graphs, as well as applying their basic knowledge to hypothetical situations or problems.

Information provided by Morrison Media LLC
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