written by: R. Elizabeth C. Kitchen•edited by: Noreen Gunnell•updated: 8/19/2010
Are you getting ready to take the medical college admissions test? If so, read on to learn more about this test and what to expect.
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The Medical College Admission Test, also referred to as the MCAT, is a standardized exam that students must take in order to get into medical school. This multiple choice examination is used to assess a student's critical thinking skills, knowledge of science principles and concepts, problem solving skills, and writing skills prerequisite to studying medicine. Scores are reported in physical sciences, biological sciences, verbal reasoning, and writing sample. All United States' medical colleges require aspiring entrants to take this exam and use the student's scores to determine whether the student is a good fit for their school. Most United States' colleges and universities will not accept an MCAT score that was received longer than three years ago, so students should take this test within a year of the time they want to start applying to medical schools in this country.
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Reserving a Seat for the MCAT
This examination if offered several times throughout the year at hundreds of locations throughout the United States and Canada. There are fees associated with registering for this exam, and the regular registration fee is $230.00. Additional fees are assessed for late registration ($55.00), changing the chosen test center ($55.00), and rescheduling the date of the test ($55.00). There is a fee assistance program available through the American Association of Medical Colleges for those who are unable to afford the full price of this exam. If they qualify, they can take this exam for a discounted price of $85.00. In addition to paying the registration fee, those who want to register for this test will have to fill out an application and turn it in with any related documents they may have to present (such as copy of driver's license at some test centers) by the dates provided on the examination schedule.
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Preparing for the MCAT
Once registered, and even before registering, it is crucial to study and prepare for the Medical College Admission Test. Princeton Review and the Association of American Medical Colleges offer online study guides, practice tests, and information on getting further information and study documents to help everyone prepare and learn about what will be on the test and how to fully prepare for it. Students will have to increase and round out their knowledge concerning the physical sciences, biological sciences, verbal reasoning, and writing skills (test practice materials provide writing prompts). The tools provided by these two organizations offer practice tests with answers so students can take the tests to determine what they know well and what they need to study more, and to periodically assess what they are learning through their studying.
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On the day of the test, test takers will need to bring a valid form of personal identification, such as a driver's license or state ID, that is issued by the government and includes the test takers photo, signature, expiration date, and the name that exactly matches the name in their registration paperwork. Test takers must follow all testing center procedures, such as not bringing anything into the testing room, remaining in their assigned seat, and only using what is provided by the testing center to take the test (such as pencils and scrap paper). Some testing centers can be cold, so bringing a light jacket or sweater is a good idea (but if this is removed from your person, you will have to take it out of the testing room).
Once the test is complete, all test takers will be instructed on how to turn in their tests and return all provided materials. It will take about 30 to 35 days after the date of the test to score the tests and release the scores to test takers. Each of the four sections of this test are scored separately. All scores are automatically provided to the AMCAS.
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American Association of Medical Colleges. (2010). Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Retrieved on August 14, 2010 from the American Association of Medical Colleges: http://www.aamc.org/students/mcat/
Princeton Review. (2010). MCAT Information. Retrieved on August 14, 2010 from the Princeton Review: http://www.princetonreview.com/medical/mcat-information.aspx