How hard is the MCAT?

Periodic Table of Elements

How hard is the MCAT?
By Nicholas S.


Taking the MCAT is as much a test of recall of specific enzymes, historic experiments and calculating how high a block hit by a bullet swings as it is as a test of endurance, critical thinking and simply the ability to take the MCAT. So, if you're wondering how hard the MCAT is, you will soon find that there are specific parts that require different ways of thinking.



Here are the nuts and bolts for each of the sections.

  1. Physical Sciences: tests general chemistry and physics topics including electronic structure, phases and phase equilibria, thermochemistry, acids and bases, work and energy, fluids and solids, etc.
  2. Verbal Reasoning: tests comprehension, evaluation, and application skills using passages from humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and technology.
  3. Biological Sciences: tests biologic and organic chemistry topics including enzymes and metabolism, body systems, molecular structure, oxygen containing compounds, biological molecules, etc.
  4. New Trial Section: optional section - don't forget this!

Plus, checkout AAMC's acceptance rates at different MCAT and GPA levels for applicants and accepted applicants from 2008 to 2010.

Tips to help you prepare for the MCAT:

Make a schedule. This is a great way of dealing with life while ensuring you keep up with your studying. Don’t kid yourself; it’s a lot of material. Plus, keep in mind there are lots of formulas, etc. that you will need memorize so starting early will help you focus on other things as you get closer to test day.

Practice exams, practice exams, practice exams. The biggest advice I can offer when it comes to improving your score on this exam is repetition. Getting used to the format and way in which the questions are asked is something that takes the most getting used to as well as what will help you improve the most. And start taking practice exams early. Don’t be discouraged by your first score (you’re going to improve A LOT). The more you can get used to taking the exam the better and the more used to the length you’ll get.

Know the material. While one of the biggest obstacles to performing well on this exam is its format, there is still no substitute for knowing the material inside and out. And yes, while the material may become completely obsolete once you get that acceptance letter, it remains just another hoop you have to jump through till then.

Don’t ignore what you don’t know. Previously guilty of this myself, I always had the inclination to continuously revisit material I was more comfortable with rather than tackle the unknown territory. It’s a siren that can lure you into a false sense of security.

The MCAT is a rough test. It’s made to push you to new levels, to weed out, to stratify. The key is to ensure you end up where you want to be, that you’ve prepared adequately and that you feel confident when you walk into the testing center. If you go into it knowing it's hard then you'll be mentally prepared to put your all into. Don't ever forget the reason, whatever that may be, you want to take it in the first place.

Stick to your guns. Everyone’s going to give you their advice on the best practices to succeed on the MCAT. Take it with a grain of salt. Yes, every little bit of help is useful, but only you know what works best for you.

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