The standardized test for admission to a medical school in the United States is called the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test). This test is designed to test the skills of the aspiring students in critical thinking, problem solving, writing skills as well as reading comprehension. Till August 2006, this exam could be taken on paper as well as on a computer but since January 2007, this exam is entirely computer based.
This test is held twice a year during April and August. Duration of the test is 5 hours and 24 minutes. You can take the test either in the morning or evening. The paper is divided into four sections. These sections are physical sciences, biological sciences, writing samples, and verbal reasoning. Except the writing sample test, all other questions are multiple-choice objective questions. In the writing section, two essays have to be written.
Regarding the scores – in the multiple-choice questions section, the scores range from 1 to 15. Whereas the writing sample section goes through three phases. In the first phase, a computer program called Intellimteric looks for any syntax error and also the level of creative writing. It then rates it from J (meaning lowest) to T (meaning highest). In the second and third phase, the essay is looked over by two experts and they provide a general overview. The scores are written as 34J or 36T.
Like many other professional exams, this exam can also be voided by the student if he thinks that his performance is not up to the mark. But this has to be decided before leaving the test center and before the results are declared.
There are also certain rules and regulations that you need to follow at the time of exam. Like you cannot use any electronic devices such as calculators, stopwatches or cellphones. You cannot wear a general wristwatch. You can only carry your photo identity card. You can take the computerized MCAT three times a year but there is no limit to the number of times that you can try for this exam.
Results of this test are declared 30 days after the exam through the official website. This score is then sent to the medical schools and other organizations, free of cost.
This test is a tough one and you need dedication, devotion and hard work to crack it. You can take the help of coaching centers like Princeton Review or Kaplan. The study material and classroom material that they give is of great assistance. Also, the authorized body that conducts this test – AAMC gives practice tests both paper and computerized to help the students. In fact, self study if done properly helps a lot as most of the topics are already covered during the undergraduate classes.