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How Hard is the MCAT?

How Hard is the MCAT?: Your premed advisor and friends have probably questioned you about taking the MCAT. Their tones undoubtedly express a mixture of optimism that you already took the exam and did well and worry that you still have to take it. In the meantime, you’ve undoubtedly heard harrowing tales about how long and difficult the MCAT is.

The MCAT plays a significant influence in what medical schools look for in applicants, which adds to the strain. The average MCAT score for applicants to medical schools for the 2022–2023 academic year was 506.5, whereas the average MCAT score for medical school graduates was 511.9. The data indicates that your chances of being admitted to medical school are significantly impacted by standing out from the crowd.

The MCAT has an air of mystery to those who have not yet started their preparation. It’s one of the last challenges you’ll encounter while pursuing a pre-med degree, and it’s notoriously challenging. Even some people have questioned whether the MCAT is too challenging.

Although the exam is difficult, the short response to that is “no.” Several students consistently perform well on the MCAT, strengthening their applications to medical school.

Therefore, it’s time to delve a little further and respond to this frequently asked question: How Hard is the MCAT?

To explain why students find the MCAT difficult, we prepared this tutorial. Also, we’ve provided study techniques you can employ to overcome these obstacles and obtain your ideal MCAT score.

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How Hard is the MCAT?
How Hard is the MCAT?

How Hard is the MCAT?

Although the MCAT is challenging, it is manageable if you approach it methodically and effectively. To put it another way, you will need to work hard and wisely. Let’s examine the factors that make this exam harder than others you may have taken or heard of.

Challenge 1: The MCAT is Lengthy.

The overall sitting time is just over 7.5 hours, with the MCAT testing taking 6 hours and 15 minutes. Due to this, the exam is substantially lengthier than comparable standardized tests.

Challenge 2. The MCAT Assesses your Knowledge of Numerous Subjects.

There are 230 total questions on the MCAT, covering a wide range of topics, including:

  • General chemistry
  • Organic chemistry
  • Physics
  • Reading comprehension
  • Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Psychology and sociology

You can tell that some of the subjects are really different from this list. For instance, studying for sociology will be different from studying for organic chemistry. As a result, you should approach the MCAT differently than you would other exams. In particular, you need to be an expert in several fields, not just one.

Yet, mastering for the MCAT does not entail being familiar with every tiny detail of each tiny fact in a biology textbook. Sure, you will need to be aware of some crucial information, but much more crucially, you will need to apply your biology knowledge to the material that the MCAT introduces in a section. That takes us to the second aspect of the MCAT that makes it more challenging than the norm.

Challenge 3: The MCAT is a Passage-based Test.

Due to the passage-based architecture of the MCAT, practically every question on the test will be connected to a passage of six to seven paragraphs. This makes the exam more difficult because you won’t be able to simply remember the information you have memorized to respond to questions.

Instead, you will need to combine the passage’s material and evaluate graphs in light of your prior knowledge. For instance, the MCAT will need you to read a chapter and respond to a question that incorporates both outside knowledge and details from the passage in addition to being familiar with biological processes like glycolysis.

Challenge 4: The MCAT is Timed

Students frequently struggle to finish some sections of the MCAT (such as Chem/Phys and CARS) in the allotted time because the exam asks a lot of questions in a short amount of time. As a result, they lose out on potential points. As a result, your reading comprehension and speedy graph analysis skills will have a significant impact on your score, which is why even students with a 3.9 GPA cannot be assured of passing the MCAT.

After discussing the reasons why the MCAT is challenging, we’ll offer techniques that have been shown to overcome these challenges, make the test simpler over time, and help you get the score you desire.

Also Read: How Long is the MCAT?

How Hard is the MCAT?
How Hard is the MCAT?

Tips for Acing the MCAT

Challenge 1: The MCAT is Lengthy.

Solution: Take lots of full-length practice tests that are simulated.

The MCAT is physically and intellectually taxing due to its length. You should take at least five full-length tests in test-like settings throughout your test preparation. Start the test at the scheduled time of 8 a.m., take your breaks as you would on the actual test, and approach each question and paragraph as though you were taking the actual MCAT. You’ll be more than prepared on test day, and it won’t take long to finish!

Challenge 2. The MCAT Assesses your Knowledge of Numerous Subjects

Solution: Choose the most efficient study technique for each individual subject.

Let’s examine an illustration: Jeremiah is having trouble with the organic chemistry and humanities CARS portions on the MCAT. In the same way that he studies organic chemistry, will Jeremiah be able to study CARS? Obviously not!

Jeremiah needs to write down crucial functional groups for organic chemistry, recall their structures, and understand how those structures affect the various chemical reactivities of the functional groups. For instance, Jeremiah should jot down what a carboxylic acid is, learn its composition, and comprehend that the oxygen draws electron density away from the carbonyl carbon, making it electrophilic. The hydroxyl (-OH) group might then depart when a nucleophile attacks the carbonyl atom.

Jeremiah simply thought through nucleophilic acyl substitution without “memorizing” a precise method. To score better on the Chem/Phys portion of the exam, he should repeat this procedure for the other crucial organic chemistry functional groups.

What is the best way for Jeremiah to study in order to raise his CARS score? He won’t be able to remember functional groupings for CARS or sketch out reactions. Jeremiah ought should instead concentrate on locating and capturing as many CARS humanities sections as he can. To find trends in his incorrect answer selections, he should thoroughly review what he missed and why he missed it after each passage.

As you can see, studying for CARS differs significantly from studying for organic chemistry in terms of effectiveness.

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Challenge 3: The MCAT is a Passage-based Test.

Solution: Recognize if the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) test-writers prefer that you look for the solution in the passage, draw on outside information to respond to the question, or combine the two ways.

In order to succeed on the exam’s Chemistry/Physics, Biology/Biochemistry, and Psychology/Sociology parts, you must determine where the AAMC wants you to look for the solution. You will learn what the AAMC anticipates of you on each topic by completing practice questions and carefully evaluating them afterward. As a general rule, if you’re stuck on a question, go back and reread the chapter to make sure you didn’t miss any important information.

There is no outside knowledge required for the CARS portion, thus the answer option must be included somewhere in the paragraph. Take use of this: In CARS, there must be textual evidence that directly supports the question in order to select an answer choice.

Challenge 4: The MCAT is Timed.

Solution: Create a timing plan and practice it frequently.

You should aim to spend 8 minutes each passage and 1 minute every standalone question on the 10 passages in the Chemistry/Physics, Biology/Biochemistry, and Psychology/Sociology sections of the MCAT.

You should try to spend 10 minutes on each of the 9 paragraphs in the CARS section.

How Hard is the MCAT?
How Hard is the MCAT?

Frequently Asked Questions

What component of the MCAT is the most challenging?

Because CARS takes the concept of applying critical thinking and logical reasoning and amplifies it, students report difficulties with it. The questions in this part have nothing to do with anything that the students have learned in their undergrad science courses.

How much time is typically spent studying for the MCAT?

The majority of people require at least four to six months to prepare for the MCAT and 10-15 hours per week of study time. You should plan to spend at least 200 to 300 hours total on the MCAT.

How much math is on the MCAT?

What math topics will be tested on the MCAT? As there is minimal actual mathematical computation on the MCAT, it is mostly a conceptual exam. Only arithmetic, algebra, and trigonometry are the only core math concepts covered on the MCAT. Calculus is not at all a part of the MCAT.

Is the MCAT only multiple-choice questions?

The Medical College Admission Test® (MCAT®) is a multiple-choice, computer-based test that is standardized and has been used in the admissions process for medical schools for over 90 years.

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