graduateshotline logo
Last Updated: December 09, 2023

MCAT Syllabus and Format

The AAMC administers the MCAT, a standardized test, to assist medical schools in determining which applicants are most likely to succeed there by using a shared evaluation. This is necessary because of the industry's significance as well as the way that curricula and grading schemes vary amongst academic institutions.

The MCAT takes a non-traditional approach to medicine and consists of four interdisciplinary sections ranging from biology to sociology. Questions in these sections assess the student's general critical thinking and reasoning abilities.

MCAT Test Format

The MCAT consists of four sections: Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living System, Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems, Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior and Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills.

The first three sections are arranged according to fundamental scientific ideas. They emphasize deep knowledge of the most crucial scientific concepts over knowledge of numerous discrete scientific facts, reflecting current research about the best ways for students to learn and apply science.

In the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section, students are required to read and consider passages from a variety of social science and humanities disciplines, such as population health, ethics and philosophy, and studies of various cultures. A set of questions follows each passage to guide candidates through the process of understanding, evaluating, and deriving conclusions from the content they have read. The test contains a total of 230 multiple-choice questions, which are divided into four sections as follows:

SectionNumber of QuestionsTime Allotted Score Range
Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems59 questions
  • 10 passage-based sets of questions (4-6 questions per set)
  • 15 independent questions
95 minutes118-132
Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems59 questions
  • 10 passage-based sets of questions (4-6 questions per set)
  • 15 independent questions
95 minutes118-132
Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior59 questions
  • 10 passage-based sets of questions (4-6 questions per set)
  • 15 independent questions
95 minutes118-132
Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills53 questions
  • 9 passages (5-7 questions per passage)
90 minutes118-132
Total230 Questions6 hours 25 minutes472-528

MCAT Test Content

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a computer-based, standardized, multiple-choice exam that is necessary to gain admission to medical schools in both the US and Canada. Examinees are assessed on the knowledge and abilities that have been determined to be necessary for success in medical school. They will have studied this material in their science courses as undergraduates. The first three sections of the exam are structured around fundamental scientific concepts, and the final section, Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills, assesses candidates' critical thinking.

Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems

The Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems section tests candidates' ability to combine scientific inquiry and reasoning skills with their understanding of biological and biochemical concepts to solve problems.
Candidates are tested on the following topics in this section:

Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems

In the Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems section, candidates are required to use their scientific inquiry and reasoning skills in addition to their understanding of fundamental concepts related to chemistry and physics to solve problems.
In this section, candidates are tested on the following topics:

Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior

The Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior section highlights ideas that doctors of the future must grasp to¬ treat a more diverse patient base and comprehend how behavior affects health. Additionally, it conveys the necessity for aspiring physicians to be equipped to handle the social and human aspects of medicine.
Candidates are tested on the topics stated below:

Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

The MCAT exam's Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section, in contrast to the other three sections, consists of passages and questions that assess candidates' comprehension of what they have read. The sections on critical analysis and reasoning skills are usually between 500 and 600 words long, but even at that length, they are densely written, frequently thought-provoking, with complex vocabulary and occasionally elaborate writing styles.

The Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section contains several multifaceted passages that center on the connections between various theories or ideas. In addition to evaluating the content, candidates must take into account the authors' intentions, tones, and choice of words when expressing their points of view in the passages' associated questions.
This section is designed to test:

Exam Overview

SectionTime Alloted
Test-day certification 4 minutes
Tutorial (optional) 10 minutes
Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems 95 minutes
Break (optional) 10 minutes
Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills 90 minutes
Mid-exam break (optional) 30 minutes
Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems 95 minutes
Break (optional) 10 minutes
Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior 95 minutes
Void question 3 minutes
End-of-day survey (optional) 5 minutes
Total content time 6 hours and 15 minutes
Total Seated TimeAbout 7 Hours 30 minutes

What are Scientific Inquiry and Reasoning Skills?

Physicians must be able to combine scientific knowledge with skills in scientific inquiry and reasoning, so candidates taking the MCAT exam will be required to demonstrate four scientific inquiry and reasoning skills that natural, behavioral, and social scientists rely on to advance their work. These skills are as follows:
SkillWhat is needed?
Knowledge of Scientific Concepts and Principles
  • displaying comprehension of scientific ideas and concepts
  • determining the connections between ideas that are closely related
Scientific Reasoning and Problem-Solving
  • Analyzing and assessing scientific explanations and predictions
  • Formulating arguments based on scientific principles, theories, and models
Reasoning About the Design and Execution of Research
  • displaying comprehension of key elements of scientific inquiry
  • analyzing research-related ethical concerns
Data-Based and Statistical Reasoning
  • analyzing trends in data displayed in graphs, figures, and tables
  • applying logic to data and making conclusions from it


Ref:
https://students-residents.aamc.org/prepare-mcat-exam/whats-mcat-exam
https://students-residents.aamc.org/media/11711/download

2024 MCAT Test Dates

MCAT Prep