Medical college admission test questions

What is a Medical College Admission Test?

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a standardized examination that has been a significant part of the medical school admissions process for 90 years. The test is designed to provide medical school admissions officers with credible data about the preparedness of the candidates to manage and handle the rigidity of medical school.

Other than students who possess a strong based knowledge of concepts in the social, natural, and behavioral sciences, medical admissions officers also look for applicants who have strong scientific problem-solving and critical analysis skills. 

MCAT Exam Scoring System

A student will be scored in all four sections. Each of the sections is scored from 118-132, with a midpoint of 125. These scores are then combined to create a total score. The total score ranges from 472 to 528. The midpoint is 500.

The exam helps determine which candidates are most likely to succeed in medical school and in medical careers. Also, MCAT scores are the only measures of academic aptness for medical schools that have the same meaning for all applicants. Unlike other scoring systems, the MCAT score range has the same meaning regardless of the school you went to or the courses you took.

The MCAT is a proven and tested examination that has a long track record of identifying and evaluating students who can potentially succeed in medical school. In fact, the test has contributed and added substantial value to the anticipation of student performance in all four years of medical school. This is the reason why MCAT scores are very credible when it comes to predicting medical students’ grades, graduation rates, and licensing exam scores.

MCAT Exam Format and Structure

The MCAT exam is taken on a computer and has 4 multiple-choice test sections:

  1. Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems 
  2. Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems 
  3. Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior 
  4. Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

Sections 1, 2, and 3 are organized around foundational ideas or concepts in the sciences. They are based on current research and tackles the most efficient ways for students to learn and use science, highlighting deep knowledge of the most significant scientific concepts and ideas over knowledge of many discrete scientific facts.

Directors in science education say that some of the most important foundational ideas in the sciences require students to integrate and interpret information from various methods. Following that characteristic, questions in those three sections will ask you to connect your scientific knowledge from multiple disciplines with your scientific inquiry and reasoning skills. You will be asked to demonstrate four distinct scientific inquiry and reasoning skills on the MCAT exam:

  • Knowledge of scientific concepts and principles 
  • Scientific reasoning and problem solving 
  • Reasoning about the design and execution of research 
  • Data-based and statistical reasoning

Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills, on the other hand, will be comparable to the various verbal reasoning examinations you have taken in your academic career. It comprises of passages and questions that will test your ability to comprehend and analyze what you read.

The Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills, on the other hand, will be comparable to the various verbal reasoning examinations you have taken in your academic career. It comprises of passages and questions that will test your ability to comprehend and analyze what you read. 

The Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section asks you to read and think about passages from a wide range of subjects in the social sciences and humanities, including, philosophy, ethics, studies of diverse cultures, and population health. Passages are accompanied by a series of questions that guide you through the process of comprehending, analyzing, and reasoning about the material you’ve read. 

Compared to the other sections,  this part is unique because it has been developed particularly to evaluate or assess the analytical and reasoning skills you’ll need to be successful in medical school.

For the complete breakdown of the MCAT exam structure, please refer to the table below:

MCAT Exam Format and Structure
Test Section Number of Questions Time
Test-Day Certification 4 minutes
Tutorial (Optional) 10 minutes
Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems 59 Questions 95 minutes
Break (Optional) 10 minutes
Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills 53 Questions 90 minutes
Mid-exam Break (Optional) 30 minutes
Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems 59 Questions 95 minutes
Break (Optional) 10 minutes
Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior 59 Questions 95 minutes
Void Question 3 minutes
Satisfaction Survey (Optional) 5 minutes
Approximate Content Time 6 hours, 15 minutes
Approximate “Seat” Time 7 hours, 30 minutes
NOTE: Total time does not include arrival at the test center or check-in times.

MCAT Exam Registration and Administration

Before taking the MCAT, you need to make sure that you fully understand the details of the exam such as how to register, schedule an appointment, or if you are eligible to take the test.

To provide you with all of the information you need, please refer to the following information presented below:

MCAT Eligibility Requirements

You are eligible to take the MCAT exam if you are planning to apply to health professions schools. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • MD-granting
  • DO-granting
  • Podiatric
  • Veterinary medicine

MCAT Special Permissions

You can only apply for special permission to take the MCAT under these two conditions:

You want to take the exam for any reason other than applying to a medical school.

You are currently enrolled as a medical student

If you want to apply for special permission, you are advised to send an email to mcat@aamc.org containing the reason(s) why you wish to take the test. The MCAT office will review and respond to your request within 5 business days. Moreover, keep in mind that the heavy volume of requests may delay the MCAT office’s ability to respond within the given timeframe.

MCAT International Students

International applicants are welcome to take the MCAT exam, provided that they were able to meet the eligibility requirements discussed above. Furthermore, applicants who hold or who are in MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery) degree program are allowed to register for the test without seeking special permission.

MCAT Registration Process

Here are the steps to register for the MCAT successfully:

Step 1: Register for an Association of American Medical Colleges ID. 

Take note that before you can log into the MCAT Registration System, you must first create an AAMC account and secure an AAMC identification number. 

Important Note: You will need your AAMC ID and the username and password you created throughout your association with the AAMC, including when you register for the MCAT exam, receive your scores, and apply to medical school and residency.

Step 2: Check Your ID

The most important information in your ID is your first and last name. Always make sure that your complete name matches the one that’s in the MCAT Registration System. You will be required to bring your ID on the test day to verify your identity. If the name on your registration will not match the one that appears in your ID, you will not be allowed to enter the test center.

Step 3: Answer the Registration Questions Accurately

During your registration, you will need to answer a variety of questions in the MCAT Registration System. These questions contain the following areas:

  • Biographic Information
  • Self-identification
  • Educational Background

Other than the mentioned areas, you will also be asked to agree to the necessary consents such as the Examinee Agreements in the MCAT Essentials.

IMPORTANT: For more information about the MCAT exam (Exam schedule and MCAT dates,, Registration system, Scheduling deadlines, Score release schedule, Fees, and Testing-center location) you can visit the AAMC’s MCAT website at www.aamc.org/mcat.

MCAT Frequently Asked Questions

What does the MCAT actually test?

As discussed earlier, the test is designed to provide medical school admissions officers with credible data about the preparedness of the candidates to manage and handle the rigidity of medical school.

Is calculus on the MCAT?

No, it is not. While the MCAT exam does not have calculus, you may still encounter it when you the prerequisite courses for admissions to medical school.

How should I start preparing for the MCAT in high school?

The best way to prepare for the MCAT in high school is by familiarizing yourself with the test. Learning how it works, what subjects it has, its scoring system, etc. will definitely help you build a good foundation.

Can a 17-year-old (12th grade) take the MCAT exam?

According to the eligibility requirements of the MCAT, any applicant who’s interested in pursuing a career in Osteopathic, Allopathic, Podiatric, and Veterinary are eligible to take the MCAT test. 

What is the best advice you can give someone taking the MCAT?

Good preparation can help you improve your performance on the test. Therefore, you have to invest some time in planning and developing your strategy for taking the exam. 

What classes should I take to prepare for the MCAT?

The most suggested subjects to take to prepare for the MCAT are the following:

  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems 
  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems 
  • Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior 
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

How is the MCAT Exam Scored?

According to the AAMC, “there is no curve associated with the MCAT exam. Instead, the MCAT exam is scaled and equated so that scores have the same meaning, no matter when you test.” 

What are some good MCAT practice tests?

You can find numerous MCAT practice test materials online that are offered for free. Try looking for MCAT Reddit, Khan Academy MCAT, and Kaplan MCAT.

MCAT Prep and Study Guide

Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

This section asks you to fuse your knowledge of foundational concepts in the physical and chemical sciences with your scientific reasoning, inquiry, statistics skills, and research methods to solve problems that demonstrate your preparedness for medical school. Understanding the physical, mechanical, and biochemical functions of tissues, organs, and organ systems are significant to the study of medicine. You will be tested on your knowledge of the basic chemical and physical systems that underlie the mechanisms operating in the human body and your capacity to apply an understanding of these general principles to living systems.

Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills 

This section asks you to critically examine multiple information from a wide range of social sciences and humanities disciplines. However, specific knowledge of these disciplines is not needed for this section; all the information you will need is provided in the corresponding passages. Content is extracted from several areas, including, but not limited to, ethics, philosophy, studies of diverse cultures, and population health.

Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems

This section asks you to fuse your knowledge of foundational concepts in the biological and biochemical sciences with your scientific reasoning, inquiry, statistics skills, and research methods to solve problems that demonstrate your preparedness for medical school. Understanding the methods unique to living organisms, such as maintaining a constant internal environment,  growing and reproducing, acquiring materials and energy, adapting, and sensing and responding to environmental changes is important to the study of medicine. You will be tested on your understanding of how cell and organ system processes within an organism function both independently and together, as well as your knowledge to reason about these processes at different levels of biological organization within a living system.

Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior 

This section asks you to combine your knowledge of the concepts in sociology, biology, and psychology with your scientific reasoning, inquiry, statistics skills, and research methods to solve problems that demonstrate your preparedness for medical school. Understanding both behavioral and sociocultural determinants of health is essential to the study of medicine. You will be tested on your knowledge of the processes that psychological, social, and biological factors affect perceptions and reactions to the world; behavior and behavior change; what people think about themselves and others; the cultural and social differences that influence well-being; and the relationships among social stratification, access to resources, and well-being.

MCAT Exam Sample Questions

Please refer to the passage below in order to answer the corresponding questions:

Black men are less likely than White men and Black women to attend healthcare appointments. In a number of studies, this has been linked to mistrust toward healthcare professionals. A study examined several factors that might account for the medical mistrust that Black men experience. Black male participants were recruited through advertisements placed in Michigan and Georgia. The researchers collected information on several variables that might predict participants’ level of medical mistrust. Because help-seeking behavior might be perceived as incompatible with the traditional male gender identity, researchers surveyed the participants on their endorsement of male gender roles. 

Participants also completed questionnaires assessing neuroticism, experiences with racism, the nature of recent healthcare experiences, and the degree of medical mistrust they experienced. The researchers found that recent experiences with racism in any setting, as well as a strong male identity, increased the likelihood of medical mistrust. Furthermore, recent unpleasant healthcare experiences reduced the frequency of participants’ seeking healthcare in the future. 

These results suggest that if medical mistrust is to be reduced, it is necessary for healthcare professionals to pay close attention to their interactions with Black men. Related studies showed that when interacting with Black patients, doctors are less likely to assume a patient-centered communication style, which involves focusing on the patients’ needs, concerns, and satisfaction. Based on these findings, a follow-up experiment was designed to investigate whether the doctor’s communication style caused a difference in the patients’ levels of mistrust.

Practice Test Question #1

According to the passage, one of the reasons Black men have medical mistrust is because seeking help violates their: 

  1. Gender schema 
  2. Gender script 
  3. Gender conditioning
  4. Gender adaptation

Practice Test Question #2

The tendency of doctors to use a physician-centered communication style more often with Black patients is an example of: 

  1. Prejudice
  2. Stereotyping
  3. Discrimination
  4. Ethnocentrism.

Practice Test Question #3

Based on the passage, unpleasant healthcare experiences act as: 

  1. Positive reinforcement
  2. Negative reinforcement
  3. Positive punishment
  4. Negative punishment

Online Source: https://students-residents.aamc.org

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