MCAT Exam Pattern, Syllabus, Eligibility, Fees, Test Dates 2022

Designed by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the Medical College Admission Test or MCAT allows candidates from the United States, Canada, Australia, and Caribbean Islands to secure admission in medical schools. A candidate is primarily tested on physical and biological sciences, verbal reasoning, and writing skills.

MCAT Format

The MCAT is a computer-based test & can span over a maximum of 7 and a half hours. It is conducted a total of 25 times each year in 21 countries. As per the latest pattern, the test has 4 sections: 3 of which are directed towards testing your scientific understanding & the other evaluates your critical thinking & reasoning skills.

In the science-centric sections, you are tested on multiple subjects namely: physics, biology, chemistry, sociology, and psychology. Furthermore, the other section is identical to most other competitive exams wherein you’ll be asked to analyze a passage and attempt the following questions.

There will be no penalty for an incorrect answer or unattempted question. In order to get into a medical school, you must target the set cutoffs by that individual school. Moreover, a candidate can appear for a maximum of 3 tests in a year, 4 over two years, and 7 tests in his/her lifetime. 

MCAT Exam Format
Source: Magoosh

MCAT Test Pattern

  • Throughout the exam, you’ll face 230 questions that are broken down as follows: 10 passages consisting of 4-7 questions, each science section consisting of 15 standalone questions & the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section having a total of 9 passages. 

  • A candidate is allowed to take the optional breaks & for any break taken otherwise the timer won’t be stopped. 

  • In total, there are 4 sections: Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems, Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills, Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems, and Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior

A section-wise break-up of the MCAT 2022 pattern is as follows:

SectionNumber of QuestionsType of QuestionsDurationScore Range
Certification8 minutes
Tutorial (optional)10 minutes
Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems5010 passage-based questions
4-6 questions per set
15 independent questions
95 minutes118-132
Break (optional)10 minutes
Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills539 passages
5-7 questions per passage
90 minutes118-132
Mid-Exam Break (optional)30 minutes
Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems5910 passage-based questions
4-6 questions per set
15 independent questions
95 minutes118-132
Break (optional)10 minutes
Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior5910 passage-based set of questions
4-6 questions per set
15 independent questions
95 minutes118-132
Void Question5 minutes
Satisfaction Survey (optional)5 minutes
Total Content Time6 hours 15 minutes
Maximum Total time7 hours 30 min approx

MCAT Syllabus

The MCAT primarily tests candidates by seeking responses to questions involving scientific inquiry. Science, psychology, and sociology are subjects of focus in the first three sections. Furthermore, the CARS section carries a quarter of the weightage in the final assessment & involves questions from diverse backgrounds. 

MCAT Exam Pattern and Syllabus

Below is a brief mention of important topics tested in the MCAT exam

Chemical and Physical foundations of Biological Systems

As the name suggests this subject involves concepts relating to operations in living systems limited to the chemical and physical levels.

Following are some important topics to prepare for this section:

  • Introductory Biochemistry and Biological concepts
  • Inorganic and organic chemistry 
  • Molecular Biology, Physics related concepts & Statistical concepts on a introductory level
  • Research methods and Natural Sciences
  • Few specific concepts include: energy and forces in living systems, electrochemistry, blood circulation, study of biological molecules ,and kinetics and thermodynamics.

Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems

In this section, an understanding of processes that make life possible is tested. Growth & reproduction are a couple of examples of the same. Additionally, you are tested on your knowledge of medicine and the functioning of organ systems. 

Following are some important topics to prepare for this section:

  • Inorganic and organic chemistry 
  • Cellular and Molecular Biology & introductory biochemistry
  • Natural science topics such as Research, Reasoning and Statistics. 
  • Some specific topics included in this section are: Protein structures and amino acids, fuel metabolism, cell division function and structure of organ systems.

Psycological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behaviour

This section mainly attempts to understand factors responsible for any selective behavior. Here, psychological, social, and biological knowledge is integrated into understanding behaviors and relationships. 

Following are some important topics to prepare for this section:

  • Social and Behavioural sciences
  • Psychological concepts, Biology of behavior and Socio-Cultural factors influencing behaviour
  • Understanding of mental processes & introductory knowledge of statistical concepts and research methods
  • Few specific concepts include: relation between human behaviour and social activity, identity, demographic systems and causes of behavioral change. 

Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

In this section, a passage is provided and a candidate is asked to answer questions using his/her critical thinking skills. When attempting a passage the candidates are expected to limit themselves to the content provided in the passage. The passages are procured from multiple sources such as books, scientific journals, and magazines. 

Passages are based on the following disciplines:

Art, literature, ethics, philosophy, pop culture, religion, cultural studies, economics, history & geography, anthropology, linguistics, psychology, and sociology political science. 

MCAT Eligibility for Indian Candidates

  • Any candidates interested in pursuing career in Allopathic, Osteopathic, Podiatric and Veterinary can appear for the MCAT test.
  • Students from U.S. and Canada must have a UG degree to be eligible for the exam.
  • International candidates must be pursuing or have completed MBBS to sit for MCAT.
  • Students taking MCAT for purposes other than pursuing a career in medicine are required to get special permission from AAMC authorities.

Registration Process

MCAT Registration is available throughout the year. Each attempt at MCAT costs between $315 – 360, depending upon the region.

  1. Visit the official website students-residents.aamc.org
  2. Create an AAMC account by providing the information asked
  3. A verification email will be sent to the registered email id
  4. Click on the link provided in the verification email and sign in
  5. Click on Start Exam Registration to make an appointment
  6. Provide information asked –
    • Personal Information
    • Biographic Information
    • Academic Background
  7. Agree to terms & conditions
  8. Select exam schedule and test center
  9. Pay the application fee using VISA or MasterCard credit card
  10. A confirmation email for the appointment will be sent to the registered email ID.

MCAT Fees structure

While the cost for initial registration is $315 it can vary depending on when you are applying for the exam. 

The deadlines for registration are divided into three sections(/ zones):

Gold Zone

  • The gold zone is any date(since the availability of application) 29 days prior to the exam date
  • The initial registration charge is $315 & the fee to reschedule or change the test centre is $90
  • In case of cancellation, candidates receive a refund of $155

Silver Zone

  • The silver zone is any date(since the availability of application) 14 days prior to the exam date
  • The initial registration charge is $315 & the fee to reschedule or change the test centre is $150
  • Upon cancellation, no refund is offered

Bronze Zone

  • The bronze zone is any date(since the availability of application) 7 days prior to the exam date
  • The initial registration charge is $370

No refund is offered upon cancellation

Additionally, there is a $105 international fee for all international applicants

    Please fill out this form if you need assistance with Applications





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    MCAT Test Dates 2022

    MCAT is administered 25 times a year. You can visit the International MCAT Testing Calendar to have a look at the schedule for the current year. An applicant should plan to take the MCAT a year prior to the desired school starting year.

    Below is a list of published exam dates for 2022.

    January 14, 2022April 8, 2022May 19, 2022
    June 25, 2022August 26, 2022*
    January 15, 2022April 9, 2022
    May 27, 2022June 30, 2022August 27, 2022
    January 20, 2022April 29, 2022
    June 4, 2022July 16, 2022September 1, 2022
    January 21, 2022April 30, 2022
    June 17, 2022July 29, 2022September 2, 2022*
    March 12, 2022May 13, 2022
    June 18, 2022August 5, 2022September 9, 2022*
    March 25, 2022May 14, 2022
    June 24, 2022August 20, 2022September 10, 2022

     Prep tips to help you ace MCAT Exam

    • Before you start studying, take a full length mock test. Knowing what your baseline score is will help you plan your prep in a more effective manner. 
    • Remember, accuracy over speed. In the beginning of your prep your focus should be getting the answers right, once you’re convinced that you’ve developed a good accuracy you can aim for speed; answering questions faster. 
    • Try to take as many practice tests as possible
    • Practice for longer hours, since the test in itself is considerably long, developing a good stamina is an absolute necessity. 
    • Familiarize yourself with distractions, the test center might not exactly be quiet in any regard. 
    • Analyse and evaluate your progress. Analysis helps you understand where you went wrong and helps you eliminate that mistake the next time you give a test. 
    • If possible, be part of a study community. Studying with a group can catalyse your progress to a very high degree, take full advantage of that. 

    Best MCAT Books

    • Kaplan MCAT Complete 7-Book Subject Review
    • Princeton Review MCAT Subject Review Complete Set, 2nd Edition
    • Examkrackers MCAT Complete Study Package 10th Edition
    • The Princeton Review Complete MCAT
    • Kaplan Test Prep MCAT 528: Advanced Prep for Advanced Students
    • Sterling MCAT Practice Tests
    • Kaplan MCAT Flashcards + App

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    How to Study Medicine/MBBS in the USA after 12th

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    Pawan Somwanshi
    Hey, I'm Pavan Somwanshi, an India-based freelance content writer and a curious human being trying to learn things every day to make a better sense of the world. I am a grad student, a management and entrepreneurship aspirant, a tech geek, an occasional philosopher, and a multitasker who excels at juggling tasks on both a professional and personal level. I follow a liberal and egalitarian school of thought, I respect ideas and encourage rational debates along with actively engaging in critical thinking. I find my fulfilment with work, studies, communicating ideas, and being around people I cares about.
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