How hard is the MCAT

How Hard Is the MCAT? An In-Depth Look at the Exam

MCAT, or the Medical College Admission Test, is undoubtedly the most crucial exam that will guarantee you a seat in the best medical school. The best-med schools consider the MCAT score of an applicant as the primary determinant for the admission process. To secure a seat in your preferred colleges, you must belong to the 99th or at least the 98th percentile of the test givers.

MCAT is one of the most challenging exams you can ever face. It is difficult to crack the MCAT with the perfect core on the first attempt. What makes it possible is diligence, regular hard work, and persistent practice. Your intelligence and hard work coupled efficiently can lead to better MCAT scores.

How hard is the MCAT – Core Challenges

MCAT demands hard and intelligent work consistently every day. This is the only mantra for MCAT. Several free online resources can help you find the study content for the exam. All you have to do is utilize the content well and pay greater attention to the daily practice of past year’s papers. Mock tests are also inevitable for a perfect MCAT score.

Test Duration

The first challenge of the MCAT exam is its duration. MCAT is a highly long exam. The test givers often need more patience. The total duration of the exam is 6 hours and 15 minutes. Couple with the additional break times, the total time is closer to 7.5 hours. This is one of the lengthiest exams compared to international entrances like SAT, ACT, or GMAT, which are mostly 4 hours long. It becomes quite challenging to hold the patience for so long.

Exam Content

The content for the exam is vivid and diverse. To ace the exam, the candidates must acquire vivid knowledge in almost 7 or 8 subjects. This is highly challenging. The MCAT exam is opted for by students with several diverse academic backgrounds. So, the exam content is diverse to make the exam fair for all and test the students’ capability to be successful medical practitioners. This means you have to study more subjects with greater focus and attention for a better result. MCAT contains 230 questions which are based on the following subject matter knowledge:

  • Physics
  • General Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Reading Comprehension

Not all subjects are correlated. For example, Physics and Psychology are two distinct subjects, but the candidate must study both to perform better in the exam. The subject combination is weird, but it promotes diversity which is a great strategy to make the exam inclusive.

Experts say it takes 400 study hours to prepare for the MCAT exam. Some candidates can get away with 300 hours as well. But more than that is needed for a great MCAT score.

MCAT is a Standardized Exam

At least 3 out of 5 people will review the MCAT exam as a twisted one. But it is not. MCAT has the misnomer of being curved, whereas it is a core standardized test. Scoring well in the MCAT depends on how well you perform among the others. Since the MCAT scores are mostly calculated in the form of percentile, it is essential to perform better than others. The July MCAT exam is more complex than the other exams. So, opt for the May test if you want it to be easy. MCAT asks plenty of questions in a short time. You might think there is much time, but the time for each question could be higher.

Also, several passage-based questions will assess your reading and analytical capability. These questions consume more time than the others.

How hard is the MCAT – Strategies to Ace the Exam

Now that you know the significant challenges of the exam, let us concentrate on how to ace the exam. To score better in the MCAT exam, there are three core strategies: Preparation strategy, Time Management strategy, and Practice Strategy.

Preparation Strategy

How to prepare for MCAT? Is only studying enough? More than studying the subject matter is required for the MCAT. You have to understand the exam well before you start preparing. The best way is to thoroughly study the syllabus and scrutinize the past year’s papers. Once you do this, it becomes easier to identify the core areas from where most questions appear. This is an effective way to streamline your effort. Another vital task is to filter online resources. Only some of the resources that you encounter online are worthy. Try to choose the authentic ones. The preparation strategy also included better practice methods and more practice of the past papers. Pay greater attention to the subjects that you could improve at. This includes the ones that you haven’t read yet. For example, if you are a physics major, sociology may be a tricky thing to handle. So, instead of avoiding sociology, try to focus more on it. You cannot ignore one specific subject if you wish to perform better in the MCAT

Time Management Strategy

The next most decisive move is the time management strategy. This strategy will determine MCAT winners. Time management not only refers to how you manage your time in the exam. But it also refers to how well you can manage time daily during the preparation phase. Time management says a lot about the candidate and how well they can cope with the difficulties of the MCAT. For the psychology or sociology sections, most questions are reading comprehension type. The target is not to spend more than 8 minutes on each passage. Here is an exam time management strategy you may try to follow:

MCAT SectionType of QuestionRecommended Time
Physics / ChemistryPassage-based and stand-alone1 minute per question and 8 minutes per passage
Biology / BiochemistryPassage-based and standalone1 minute per question and 8 minutes per passage
CARSPassage based10 minutes/passage
Psychology / SociologyPassage Based and standalone1 min/question and 8 mins/passage

When practicing at home, try to follow this schedule for a good MCAT score.

Practice Strategy

When practicing the past year’s papers, try to understand the pattern of questions. Focus on the binding domains and always practice with the timer. Gradually you will master the skills of swift answering and better overall time management.

Final Words

Being in a med school is a dream for many MCAT opens the doors to the best medical colleges for aspirants. But it takes work to crack the MCAT. The best strategy is to start the preparation as soon as possible and not drift away. Students are usually charged with preparation during the first phase of the MCAT prep course, but later on, they can’t hold the focus and become too impatient. According to current trends, a score of 510 on the MCAT will secure you a place in the 77th MCAT percentiles. To master high-class content and get your scores at least in the 90th percentile and above, you need plenty of dedicated study hours, relentless practice, and dedication. A systematic and organized study schedule and following it with diligence will help you ace the MCAT.

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