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MCAT Exam 2018 – 2019 | India

MCAT general information on the eligibility, pattern, exam dates, test centers in India, exam fee (test price) and the best free MCAT preparation material.

 

What is MCAT?

Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a standardized computer-based exam required to get into a medical school abroad. It is administered by American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) and serves as a de-facto standard for admission in countries such as the US, Canada, and Australia.

Apart from testing the knowledge of scientific fundamentals necessary for completing medical school, the test also focuses on written analysis and problem-solving skills. The test is excruciatingly long with a length of almost 7.5 hours, and you should prepare well so as to avoid the possibility of a re-take.
 

MCAT Exam Eligibility

A candidate is eligible for taking the MCAT if he/she plans to attend a health professional school, which includes Allopathic, Osteopathic, Podiatric and Veterinary Medicine. If you’ve completed (or pursuing) an MBBS degree program, you don’t need a special permission to sit for the exam.

However, if both the above circumstances don’t apply, you need to ask for “special permission” from AAMC before registering for the exam. You need to drop a mail to mcat@aamc.org, explaining the reason you want to give the examination. It usually takes about a week to get a response; hence it is advisable to be careful with the deadlines. You also need a valid passport as a proof-of-identity.
 

MCAT Exam Dates

MCAT is administered 25 times in 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. The score is usually valid for 2-3 years, and the test can be taken up to a maximum of 3 times in a year and 7 times in a lifetime.

The following pie-chart is from a John Hopkins MCAT Survey of 2015 applicants with a score of 90 percentile and above.

MCAT

 

MCAT Centers in India

Indian students are in for a shock at this front, as the MCAT does not have test centers in India. Keeping in mind the brighter side of things, you would travel to exotic neighboring countries such as Thailand, Malaysia or Singapore to sit for the exam.

The test is administered in 19 international locations, and the registration procedure is the same for US and international candidates. However, you need to pay a 90$ additional fee if you are registering for a non-US test location.
 

MCAT Exam Fee | Test Price

MCAT costs $310 if you register during the normal window (about 1 month or more prior to the test date), but the cost increases if you register late. There are additional fees for location or date changes, and an international fee is also applicable for non-US test locations.

Hence, an Indian applicant in the best-case scenario needs to shell out USD 400 for taking the MCAT. In Indian Rupees, the MCAT fee is INR 25,750 at the current exchange rate.
 

MCAT Pattern

MCAT tests your understanding of fundamentals in subjects such as Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Psychology and Sociology. On top of that, it also tests your problem-solving and critical thinking skills. The sections are integrated, which means that test areas will overlap- which is the way a candidate actually puts the knowledge to use in a medical school. The exam is comprised of 4 sections:

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

The range of score for every section of MCAT is 118-132, hence the total scores ranges from 472-528 with a mean/median of 500.

Section 1 tests your understanding of general scientific principals and their applicability to living systems. The physical sciences are not tested in isolation, but instead with a contextual background of biological sciences. A periodic table is available for use, while a calculator is not allowed.

Section 2 does not test you on any specific domain knowledge, and all the information required to answer the question at hand is present in the passage itself. It tests your ability to dissect arguments, and critically analyze the underlying assumptions and quality of inferences.

Section 3 tests your understanding of subjects related to basic life processes: reproduction, growth, energy production etc. The subjects not just include biological sciences, but organic and general chemistry as well- they are intrinsically connected to biochemistry.

Section 4 is new and assesses your understanding of basic research principles, its structure and statistical underpinnings and its use within the broader context of behavioral and health outcomes. It tests your knowledge of Psychology and Sociology as it relates to the biological sciences.

The table below provides a break-up of the exam as on test-day:

Section Number/Type of Questions Duration
Examinee Agreement   8 minutes
Tutorial (optional)   10 minutes
Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems 44 passage-related questions

15 standalone, non-passage-related questions

59 total questions

95 minutes
Break (optional)   10 minutes
Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills 53 passage-related questions 90 minutes
Mid-Exam Break (optional)   30 minutes
Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems 44 passage-related questions

15 standalone, non-passage-related questions

59 total questions

95 minutes
Break (optional)   10 minutes
Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior 44 passage-related questions

15 standalone, non-passage-related questions

59 total questions

95 minutes
Void Question   5 minutes
Satisfaction Survey (optional)   5 minutes
Total Content Time   6 hours 15 minutes

 

MCAT Preparation

AAMC website offers a wealth of resources related to free and paid MCAT preparation material. For a full syllabus, click here.

Khan Academy has a host of excellent resources for complete MCAT preparation (link), and is completely free (but accepts kind donations, of course). It is especially great for visual learners as it provides video tutorials that are lucid. The practice questions also allow the candidate to zero-in on the areas of relative difficulty.

AAMC Content Outlines is also an excellent resource, as it tells you all you need to know “officially”. MCAT Essentials for Testing Year 2017 gives you an overview of the test in a fairly comprehensive way. Student Doctor Network is a forum where you can get answers to almost all questions related to medical schools. However, as on other public forums, you need to exercise your discretion and conduct due diligence before further action.

Kaplan MCAT qBank is a bank of free practice questions (175 in total). You can also schedule a free MCAT practice test (here) provided by Kaplan. AAMC Mini-Test Book gives you a very brief idea of the kind of questions that will be asked on the actual exam.

You can buy The Official Guide to the MCAT Exam on Amazon India here.

You can also have a look at the best MCAT preparation books here.
 

MCAT Scores Percentiles

As each test form has slightly different questions, the raw score is converted to a scaled score to accommodate for varying levels of question difficulty. A good score depends on the requirements of the medical school that you’re targeting. Having a look at the official or unofficial statistics of the target school can give you a rough idea about the kind of scores that are expected. AAMC has put a general correlation between test scores and percentile:

Percentile Scaled MCAT Total Score
Top 10% of all test-takers 514 to 528
Top 25% of all test-takers 508 to 513
Top 50% of all test-takers 500 to 507
Below 50th percentile of all test-takers 499 or below

 
Read more about:
MCAT syllabus and pattern
MCAT preparation
Best MCAT Books
 
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