Everything You Need to Know About the 2021 MCAT Test Dates

Is your MCAT Test date approaching? Well, I have you covered!

What is the MCAT Test?

  • The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a standardized, multiple-choice, and computer-based exam conducted by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) for several years. 
  • Every year more than 85,000 test-takers sit  for the MCAT exam.  
  • It is a mandatory step in the selection process for almost every medical school in the US and Canada. 
  • The MCAT examines your knowledge, skills, intellectual level, and thought process which are considered to be the key factors for getting success in the medical field. 

What are the different sections of the MCAT Exam?

The MCAT exam consists of a combination of subjects that you will study in medical school.

The MCAT is divided into four main sections:

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

The MCAT exam has in total 230 questions which also include passage-based questions and discrete MCAT questions.

SKILLS Required for the MCAT

There are four scientific skills according to AAMC which are the basic requirement for a successful the MCAT taker. These skills will be applicable on each of the four sections of the MCAT exam (Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems, Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems, and Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior). 

1) Knowledge of Scientific Concepts and Principles (35%)

2) Scientific Reasoning and Problem Solving (45%)

3) Reasoning about the Design and Execution of Research (10%)

4) Data-Based and Statistical Reasoning (10%)

However, it is necessary to have core knowledge of science to perform well on the MCAT exam. But, this alone will lead you towards a competitive MCAT score which is the ultimate goal. Rather, use your foundational science subjects along with your critical thinking skills to draw realistic conclusions.

In other words, you may find a passage on the actual MCAT test familiar to you but your science knowledge may be lacking. I have prepared for you the perfect strategy and skills  in this ultimate guide for to get a maximum score in each section of the exam.  

Four skills necessary to get the highest score on the MCAT:

  •  KNOWLEDGE OF SCIENTIFIC CONCEPTS AND PRINCIPLES

In this skill, knowledge about science concepts is needed which means you are supposed to have familiarity with scientific formulas, methods, case studies, theories, calculations, and relationships.  The greater part of “discrete” questions which are: 15 problems in each science section that are not associated with a passage can perform well if you have this skill. Questions of science concepts can also be seen in passage-based questions. As its weight is only 35%, so aiming for a competitive score, depending on this skill set only is not a realistic approach.

  • SCIENTIFIC REASONING AND PROBLEM SOLVING

This skill is all about your critical thinking ability and examines your deep involvement in scientific theories, the principle in combination with your knowledge in science. This means you might be examined based on your potential to extrapolate scientific theories, experiments, and facts to conclude results, reasons of causes and effects, and identifying scientific conclusions that can validate or confront a scientific assumption. 45% of questions constitute this skill set which is huge to make difference in your MCAT score.

  •   REASONING ABOUT THE DESIGN AND EXECUTION OF RESEARCH

This skill set examines your skill to assess and investigate a given situation which is considered to be a very important part of daily working in the medical field. In this skill, your overall decisive approach is judged where you have to recognize: possible hypotheses, well-made experiments, and logical conclusions for a given experiment. Basically, it evaluates your capability to explicate scientific methods, consequences, conclusions, and their implications in real-time. 

  • DATA-BASED AND STATISTICAL REASONING

Lastly, your ability to examine the graphics and statistical terms used in experiments is tested in this skill. This involves interpretation of data, tables, figures and graphs, and getting a practical conclusion out of it. Knowledge of basic terms of statistics such as mean, median, mode, standard deviation, and inter-quartile range is necessary to understand the occurrence of an error in the experiment. 

Preparation for the MCAT

Most students utilize practice tests on the AAMC website, tutoring, prep courses and the Khan Academy MCAT video series to prepare. The most cost effective way to improve MCAT scores has been doing thousands of MCAT practice questions. It does not matter how much time you spend searching MCAT reddit forums for “MCAT good score” or “How to score the highest”, the fact remains that practice makes perfect. Your best bet is to find a study plan that includes the best resources and strategies. You do not need to spend thousands of dollars on an MCAT tutor to do well on the MCAT. In fact, provided here is a 61 page step by step guide, showing you how to incorporate practice exams and questions from the AAMC, elite test prep companies and Khan Academy MCAT videos into a stop shop source. This comprehensive guide is more than you’ll need for mastering all sections of the MCAT, including CARS, which most people struggle with. The guide includes a customized 2 and 3 month schedule to accommodate the study load.

Synopsis of MCAT Test

Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
Duration of ExamNumber of QuestionsMCAT Subjects IncludedSection-wise MACT score range (low to high)Total MCATScore Range (low to high)
     95 minutes59 total questions:          

– 15 stand-alone-  44 passage-based questions,                         – 10 passages
Organic and inorganic chemistry (45%), physics (25%), biochemistry (25%), biology (5%), basic research methods and statistics      118-132      472-528

Complete information of the MCAT Chemical and Physical Foundations of Living Systems section 

The Chemical and Physical Foundations of Living Systems section of the MCAT, which is commonly known as the Chem/Physics section, wants you to solve the problems that are based on your knowledge of chemistry, physics, and organic chemistry. Some part of this test also includes biochemistry and biology. Additionally, knowledge of basic math is needed.

Moreover, it is necessary to understand that this test needs much more than just your knowledge about science content.

  •  The MCAT exam aims to judge how critically you can analyze a certain situation and your reasoning skills.
  • In-depth information and understanding of chemistry and physics and capability to solve very difficult questions is the key to get success in the MCAT exam.
  • Also a strong grip over foundational content in the sciences is a much-needed asset for cracking the MCAT exam.

To get the maximum score in the Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems section, a thorough study of below-mentioned subjects can be helpful.

Chemistry subjects for the MCAT:
Atomic StructureThe Periodic TableBonding and Chemical Interactions
StoichiometryChemical KineticsEquilibrium
ThermochemistryThe Gas PhaseSolutions
Acids and BasesRedOx ReactionsElectrochemistry
Physics subjects for the MCAT:
Units and Dimensional AnalysisKinematicsWork and Energy
FluidsWaves and SoundLight and Optics
ThermodynamicsElectrostaticsCircuits
MagnetismAtomic and Nuclear Phenomena
Organic Chemistry subjects for the MCAT:
NomenclatureIsomersBonding
Alcohols and EthersAldehydes and KetonesCarboxylic Acids and Derivatives
Nucleophiles and ElectrophilesRedOx reactionsNitrogen-Containing Compounds
Phosphorus-Containing CompoundsSpectroscopyLaboratory Techniques and Separations
Biochemistry subjects for the MCAT:
Amino Acids, Peptides and ProteinsEnzymesNonenzymatic proteins
Carbohydrate structureCarbohydrate metabolismLipids and lipid metabolism
DNA and RNABiological MembranesRegulation of metabolism

 

Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS)
Duration of ExamNumber of QuestionsMCAT Subjects IncludedSection wise MACT score range (low to high)Total MCATScore Range (low to high)
  90 minutes53 total questions:          – 9 passages Reasoning Within the Text (30%),Foundations of Comprehension (30%), Reasoning Beyond the Text (40%)     118-132      472-528

Complete information of the Critical Analysis and Reasoning (CARS) section

The Critical Analysis and Reasoning section of the MCAT, commonly known as MCAT CARS, focus on testing your ability to comprehend a passage, understand the information, and give correct answers to the questions. However, it is quite tricky because the passages are lengthy and difficult to understand. Questions from the passage involve your critical thinking skills so utilizing the given exam time at time becomes challenging.

PASSAGES ON THE MCAT CARS SECTION

  • Humanities and social sciences
  • Literature, the arts, philosophy, religion, economics, history, political science, and more. 

QUESTIONS ON THE MCAT CARS SECTION

There are a total of nine passages. The MCAT AAMC identified three skills to answer the questions provided in MCAT CARS and they are mentioned below: 

1) Foundations of Comprehension (30%)

2) Reasoning within the Text (30%)

3) Reasoning beyond the Text (40%)       

Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
Duration of ExamNumber of QuestionsMCAT Subjects IncludedSection wise MACT score range (low to high)Total MCATScore Range (low to high)
  95 minutes59 total questions:          – 15 stand-alone-  44 passage-based questions,                        – 10 passages Biology (65%), biochemistry (25%), organic and inorganic chemistry (10%), basic research and statistics skills    118-132        472-528

Complete information of the Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems section

The Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems section of the MCAT, known as MCAT Biology or MCAT Bio/Biochem section, asks you to solve problems based on knowledge of biological and biochemical concepts in combination with scientific analysis and interpretation skills. This also includes some general chemistry and organic chemistry.

Incorporation of the following mentioned subjects of biology and biochemistry makes you understand the subject more precisely.

Biology Subjects 
The CellReproductionEmbryogenesis and Development
The Nervous SystemThe Endocrine SystemThe Respiratory System
The Cardiovascular SystemThe Immune SystemThe Digestive System
The Excretory SystemThe Musculoskeletal SystemGenetics and Evolution
Biochemistry Subjects 
Amino Acids, Peptides and ProteinsEnzymesNonenzymatic proteins
Carbohydrate structureCarbohydrate metabolismLipids and lipid metabolism
DNA and RNABiological MembranesRegulation of metabolism
Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior
Duration of ExamNumber of QuestionsMCAT Subjects IncludedSection wise MACT score range (low to high)Total MCATScore Range (low to high)
   95 minutes59 total questions:          – 15 stand-alone-  44 passage-based questions,                        – 10 passages  Psychology (65%), introductory Sociology (30%), and preliminary Biology (5%).   118-132      472-528

Complete information of the Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior section

The Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior section of the MCAT, also called as Behavioral Sciences or Psych/Soc section, focus on your ability to solve problems related to your knowledge of introductory psychology and sociology concepts in combination with science concepts.

A thorough study of the below-mentioned subjects can give vast knowledge about the Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior section.

Behavioral Science Subjects 
NeurobiologySensation and PerceptionLearning and Memory
Cognition and ConsciousnessLanguage DevelopmentMotivation and Emotion
Identity and PersonalityPsychological DisordersSocial Processes and Behavior
Social InteractionSocial Thinking and AttitudesSocial Structure and Stratification

Duration of the MCAT exam

The MCAT is 7 hours and 30 minutes long, including breaks. Here is the MCAT breakdown of the time slots given to each section of the MCAT exam.

The test starts from 7:30 AM until 3:00 PM.

START of the MCAT Exam
DurationParticulars
10 MinutesTutorial (optional)
95 MinutesSection 1
10  MinutesBreak (Optional)
90 MinutesSection 2
30 MinutesLunch Break
95 MinutesSection 3
10 MinutesBreak (optional)
95 MinutesSection 4
5 MinutesVoid Questions
5 MinutesSatisfactory Survey (optional)
END of the MCAT Exam

Mandatory steps for the exam: Register for the exam, have a valid proof of identification, digital fingerprints and lastly have your photo taken on exam day. 

Who is allowed to register for the MCAT ?

There is no requirement of academic background for taking the MCAT exam, which means anyone from a science or non-science background can sit for the MCAT exam. 

However, sometimes the American Association of Medical Colleges may verify your intent before the registration process begins.

Historically, the following people can apply for the MCAT exam:

  • A person aspiring to become a medical professional and is planning to apply for medical schools to pursue any of the areas in the medical field such as allopathic, osteopathic, homeopathic, podiatric, and/or veterinary medicine. Applies to international students also.
  • A person planning to apply for any medical or graduate program which accepts MCAT scores.
  • A person registered in an MBBS degree program.

What is the ideal time to take the MCAT exam?

Selecting the best date for the MCAT exam is a very crucial thing to decide. However, with a clear objective (which is mentioned below), this decision can be made without difficulty.

–       Without a doubt, always aim at thorough preparation, never rush into test dates randomly.

–       Preparation should last at least 6 months before taking the MCAT exam, but this may be shorter for those actively taking prerequisite courses for pre-med studies.  

–       If you are planning to be enrolled in medical school by 2022, then taking MCAT exam in 2021 or before would be the best option.

Moreover, always ask yourself these questions before making any decision.

–       What will be my target year to apply for medical school?

–       Am I willing to retake the MCAT if necessary ?

–       Which study material will I use for the MCAT exam preparation?

Once you get clear answers to these questions, you may proceed further.

How many attempts of the MCAT exam are allowed?

According to MCAT exam rules, there are three attempts in a single testing year and up to four times in a two consecutive-year period, and up to seven times in a lifetime. 

2021 MCAT TEST DATES AND SCORE RELEASE DATES

2021 MCAT Test Date Score Release Date
Friday, January 15, 2021Tuesday, February 2, 2021
Saturday, January 16, 2021Tuesday, February 2, 2021
Thursday, January 21, 2021Tuesday, February 9, 2021
Monday, January 25, 2021Tuesday, February 9, 2021
Saturday, March 13, 2021Tuesday, April 13, 2021
Friday, March 26, 2021Tuesday, April 27, 2021
Saturday, April 10, 2021Tuesday, May 11, 2021
Friday, April 23, 2021Tuesday, May 25, 2021
Friday, April 30, 2021Tuesday, June 1, 2021
Saturday, May 1, 2021Tuesday, June 1, 2021
Friday, May 14, 2021Tuesday, June 15, 2021
Saturday, May 15, 2021Tuesday, June 15, 2021
Thursday, May 20, 2021Tuesday, July 22, 2021
Friday, May 28, 2021Tuesday, June 29, 2021
Friday, June 4, 2021Wednesday, July 7, 2021
Friday, June 18, 2021Tuesday, July 20, 2021
Saturday, June 19, 2021Tuesday, July 20, 2021
Saturday, June 26, 2021Tuesday, July 27, 2021
Wednesday, June 30, 2021Tuesday, August 3, 2021
Saturday, July 17, 2021Tuesday, August 17, 2021
Thursday, July 22, 2021Tuesday, August 24, 2021
Friday, July 30, 2021Tuesday, August 31, 2021
Saturday, August 7, 2021Wednesday, September 8, 2021
Friday, August 13, 2021Tuesday, September 14, 2021
Saturday, August 21, 2021Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Thursday, August 26, 2021Tuesday, September 28, 2021
Friday, August 27, 2021Tuesday, September 28, 2021
Thursday, September 2, 2021Tuesday, October 5, 2021
Friday, September 3, 2021Tuesday, October 5, 2021
Friday, September 10, 2021Tuesday, October 12, 2021
Saturday, September 11, 2021Tuesday, October 12, 2021

If you are looking for additional guidance with test strategy, using free and low cost resources from top MCAT scorers and want to study in 3 months or less, here is the ultimate guide for you.  The Ultimate Guide –“How to study for the MCAT”.  

For any questions related to MCAT registration, scheduling, and location, feel free to contact the AAMC for more information here. 


 

 

 

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