Cornell University

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What science coursework is prerequisite for the MCAT?

The test may be taken any time after the student has finished (or is within a few weeks of finishing) one year of:

  • Introductory Biology
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Introductory Physics (however, not tested on the DAT)
  • 1st semester Psychology, Sociology and Biochemistry

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What are the test dates?

The computerized MCAT is offered twenty-eight times a year; paper-and-pencil tests have been discontinued. For exam dates see the MCAT website.

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What month should I take the MCAT?

Usually it is to the student's advantage to take the MCAT early enough that scores will be available to the medical schools by late summer of the year you are applying.

In determining when to take the test, a student should consider the following:

  • Taking the MCAT when course material is fresher is usually advantageous.
  • A test taken by June of the year you are applying has the advantage of producing scores in time to use them to make a timely (June/July) submission of your AMCAS application. Knowing your scores before making your final decision to apply is helpful, though scores on practice tests can also give you an idea of how competitive your scores may be. The MCAT scores are also useful in selecting which schools to apply to.
  • If you take the MCAT after you have submitted your AMCAS application, AMCAS will send the scores to the schools when they become available. Do not delay submitting your AMCAS application solely because your MCAT scores will be available later in the summer. AMCAS can be submitted when you know one medical school you want to apply to. Additional schools can be designated later.
  • Taking the test by June and having scores one month later allows time to re-take the test, if needed for the current application year. The test can be taken later than June, but the increased competition for July and August test dates (you can only register for one test at a time) may mean those test dates have no space left at certain locations by the time you decide you want to register to re-take the exam.
  • Medical schools generally do not review an application until they receive the MCAT scores. September is the latest the MCAT is offered each year. Since scores are available 30 days after the test is taken, September test scores of the year of application may delay the date when the application will be reviewed. Most medical schools will accept the September test scores (a few do not), but September scores may put you at a disadvantage at schools with rolling admissions.
  • If you take the test in September of the application year, and, for whatever reason, do not do as well as expected, there is no opportunity to repeat the test until January of the next year. Few schools say they will consider January scores submitted by those currently applying to them.

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What is the MCAT's format?

The test takes half a day. Questions are multiple choice for the Physical Sciences, Verbal Reasoning, and Biological Sciences sections. The Writing Sample section involves writing two short essays.

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How should I prepare for the MCAT?

The briefing "MCAT Review Tips" is offered each year. This briefing is also available on audio in the Career Library, 103 Barnes and the web.

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What materials are available for test prep?

The Association of American Medical Colleges MCAT website is an excellent resource. Practice tests, which can greatly enhance your review, can also be ordered from this website. The Career Library, 103 Barnes Hall, also has practice tests on file for students to work with.

The Official Guide to the MCAT will help you assess your level of knowledge and how to review. This Guide, to be released in the spring, will also contain sample tests.

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Should I take a commercial prep course?

Many students report good results studying on their own or with a study group using their textbooks, class notes, and an MCAT review manual. Several commercial firms offer MCAT review courses. The value of these courses varies depending on one’s learning style and how well the course is taught, among other factors.

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