The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)
Overview Of The Mcat
Essentially all applicants to the U.S. and Canadian medical schools, as well as some applicants to foreign schools, are expected to take the MCAT. It is given on a Saturday in April and in August at test centers located throughout the country and at some overseas locations. The test is administered and scored by The MCAT Program, P.O. Box 4056, Iowa City, IA 52243, (319) 337–1357. Score reporting is the responsibility of the AAMC (MCAT Operations, Association of American Medical Colleges, Section for Student Services, 2450 N Street NW, Suite 201, Washington, DC 20037, (202) 828–0600). You can arrange to take the test by filing an application (frequently obtainable at your Premedical Advisory Office), along with the examination fee (currently $155) and a recent snapshot. Special test centers are open on Sundays for students whose religious convictions prevent them from taking the exam on Saturday. An additional fee (currently $10) is required for taking the exam on Sunday.
Scores are sent automatically in mid-June or mid-October both to you and to your advisor. Your scores will also be sent automatically to AMCAS schools. You can indicate on your test application six non-AMCAS schools you wish to receive your scores; if you are applying to more than six AMCAS schools, you must pay a fee for each additional school.
The MCAT can be retaken without special permission, but it is usually advisable to do so only if there is a significant discrepancy between your college grades and MCAT scores, if the test was taken before you completed your basic biology and chemistry courses, if you were quite ill or emotionally upset at the time the test was taken, or if you are encouraged by your Premedical Committee to do so. When the MCAT is taken twice, the AAMC recommends that the initial and retest scores on the verbal reasoning tests be averaged, and the retest scores for the physical and biological sciences tests be used, unless there is evidence that unusual circumstances might have affected scores on either exam.
As a general rule, you should take the MCAT at the session at which you feel you could perform best. The overwhelming majority of students take the test in the spring and this is justified for a number of reasons:
- Scores become available earlier and therefore prompter action on your application can be taken by admissions committees.
- Additional knowledge accumulated between the two test periods does not significantly affect test scores.
- Most schools interpret the scores in light of the actual coursework completed at the time the exam was taken.
- You still have the option of retaking the examination in the fall if you missed it in the spring or if you feel that the scores, for some reason, did not reflect your true capabilities.
- A significant number of places may already be filled by the time the schools receive the scores from the fall exam (usually after Thanksgiving).
- You can get a necessary hurdle out of the way and you can then concentrate better on your studies.
Students who have not had basic courses in chemistry and biology and who plan to take these courses during the summer and students whose academic record is B — or less and who will have additional time to study for the examination during the summer and therefore may perform better on the exam in the fall should give serious consideration to the later test administration. In any event, the exam should not be taken in the spring as if it were a trial run, with the intention of taking it definitively in the fall since medical schools are aware that the exam is taken twice and can secure both sets of scores.
Test scores are sent to the student usually four to six weeks after the test is taken. The student also receives a copy to be given to his or her advisor. The advisor receives a computer printout of the scores from those students electing to release them.
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