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How Long is the MCAT?

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How long is the MCAT: When talking about the MCAT, your friends, teachers, and premed counselors may have used phrases like crucial, challenging, and most frequently, lengthy.

Your high school SAT was just three hours long, and most college final examinations are at most a couple of hours long. The MCAT will very likely be the longest test you have ever taken in addition to being one of the hardest tests you have ever encountered.

The MCAT is a crucial component of your medical school application because the results can make or break all of your hard work as a premed. Your application will stand out if you have a strong MCAT score.

Given the significance of the exam, the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) test writers designed a lengthy exam that assesses both your capacity for excellent performance over an extended period of time as well as your capacity for solving difficult issues under pressure.

Students should be aware of the scope of their task before starting MCAT preparation. One of the most often queries we receive is, “How long is the MCAT?” This article will help you through that question.

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How long is the MCAT
How long is the MCAT

What is the MCAT?

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. More than 85,000 students take the test each year. Many health profession institutions and graduate programs now accept MCAT scores in place of other standardized examinations, and almost all medical schools in the United States and many in Canada also need MCAT scores.

Medical educators, doctors, medical students, and residents have all identified specific knowledge and skill requirements for success in medical school and practice that are tested on the MCAT exam. There are four parts to the content:

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

The MCAT exam is created by the AAMC and is given many times a year, from late January through September, at hundreds of testing venues in the United States, Canada, and in a few other places around the world.

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When should I register for the MCAT?

The exam should be taken when you are well-prepared and ready. Often covered in introductory-level science courses, make sure you are familiar with the material and abilities examined on the exam.

Examinees frequently take their exams in the year before the one in which they intend to enroll in medical school. You should think about how well you comprehend the material and whether you will need to repeat the exam before selecting an exam date. For instance, it could be advisable to take the exam later in the summer if you intend to enroll in a summer course that will benefit you on the MCAT exam, such as a science course.

Also, keep in mind that medical schools will view all of your test results and that there are testing restrictions (three times per calendar year, four times over the course of two years, and seven times overall). Keep in mind that you should only take the exam when you are ready and prepared.

How long is the MCAT
How long is the MCAT

How Important is the MCAT?

Although taking the MCAT is a crucial step in the application process, it only makes up a small portion of your overall application to medical school. The admissions committee will also look at your academic accomplishments, exposure to the medical field, personal experiences and interests, potential to contribute to the university and community, and character traits like maturity and a desire to help others.

How Long is the MCAT?

The MCAT’s “content time” without breaks and additional optional parts is 6 hours and 15 minutes. The MCAT’s “seated time” is 7 hours, 27 minutes when breaks and optional portions are included. Unlike multiple-day exams you may take later in medical school, the MCAT is done in a single day (e.g., USMLE Step 2).

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the AAMC offered a shorter exam—5 hours and 45 minutes—during some of 2020. However, the MCAT is now back to its standard length.

The breakdown of how exactly you’ll be using your time during the MCAT is provided below.

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MCAT Time Breakdown

MCAT Section Length Total Time
Test-day certification
4 minutes
4 minutes
Tutorial (optional)
10 minutes
14 minutes
Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Sciences
95 minutes
1 hour and 49 minutes
Break (optional)
10 minutes
1 hour and 59 minutes
Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
90 minutes
3 hours and 29 minutes
Mid-exam break (optional)
30 minutes
3 hours and 59 minutes
Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
95 minutes
5 hours and 34 minutes
Break (optional)
10 minutes
5 hours and 44 minutes
Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
95 minutes
7 hours and 19 minutes
Void question
3 minutes
7 hours and 22 minutes
End-of-day survey (optional)
5 minutes
7 hours and 27 minutes

When should you show up at the MCAT Venue?

To give yourself enough time to check in, stow your personal items, and prepare for the exam, you should aim to arrive at least 30 minutes before the start of your appointment. The test center may or may not be open more than 30 minutes before to the test, while this is not guaranteed. As a result, we advise showing up 35 to 40 minutes before the exam’s start time.

The most important thing to remember is that if you come past the test’s planned start time, you might not be able to take it and will be recorded as a “no show.” You won’t receive a refund in this case, and the test date will still count toward your allotted number of MCAT attempts. As a result, it’s crucial to arrive on time.

How long is the MCAT
How long is the MCAT

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you eat while taking the MCAT?

Indeed, and you ought to! Eating will assist you have the energy you need to keep going throughout the lengthy test.

Is Gum chewing permitted during the MCAT?

No. When you are in the physical testing room in front of the computer, you are not permitted to chew gum. On any of the three breaks, though, you are permitted to chew gum.

Is a calculator allowed on the MCAT?

No. On the MCAT, a calculator is not permitted.

What is permitted in the testing facility itself?

According to the AAMC, you are only permitted to bring eyeglasses and an MCAT-accepted ID inside the testing room.


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