It's important to note that testing dates fill up quite quickly after registration opens, so try your best to register as early in the period as possible. Students registering at international testing sites must to pay an additional fee of $115 USD.
Want to increase your MCAT score? Watch this video!
If you are a student writing the MCAT in the United States or Canada, you might think you have a lot of test date options and plenty of time to choose the right date for you. We strongly discourage you from taking such an attitude. It is important to start planning your test date as soon as possible to secure a date and center that are convenient for you. Optimize your chances for success by setting the best test date and creating a thorough MCAT study schedule based on the time you have before taking the exam.
According to the latest AAMC report, the average number of MCAT examinees per year is around 70,000. This means that those test centers and test dates fill up pretty quickly once the registration opens. Do not procrastinate. Choosing the optimal test date and location can really ease your anxiety and help your MCAT preparations. Register for your test date as soon as you're able to.
Additionally, choosing an MCAT test date will determine your release date. If you are planning to write the exam during the medical school application process, make sure you choose a test date that would allow your scores to be released on time for the schools’ deadlines. Here’s what you need to do before you register:
1. Find out when registration opens
Right now, the AAMC offers three registration dates taking place in November, February, and May. Keep checking the for updates about registration and dates. If you need , apply for these as soon as possible. More information can be found on the AAMC website.
2. Research MCAT test dates and release dates
Determine which dates work for you and your . Ensure you have a minimum of 3 months to study and prep for your MCAT. You should also try to choose a test date far enough in advance that once you receive your score, you'll still have time to if you choose to. Be sure to check that you'll receive your MCAT score with plenty of time before your medical school application deadlines. Scores are released around one month after your test date.
3. Choose a nearby testing center
Research which testing centers are available near you and choose the most convenient one. Remember that procrastinating with choosing your test date may result in filled-up centers near you. To stick to your application plans, you might have to travel to take the MCAT. This is an unnecessary expenditure that can be easily avoided if you research your test dates and locations on time.
Remember, you want to give yourself an ample amount of time to study for the exam. Ideally, you will have six months to thoroughly prepare for the MCAT. If six months are not possible, then aim to have at least three months – in this case, you should have most of your weeks open for revision and practice. To estimate how much time you will need for MCAT prep, make sure to take the to figure out your knowledge baseline. A diagnostic test will allow you to figure out which content areas and disciplines need thorough revision. After examining the results of your diagnostic, you will be able to estimate how much time you need to study. Schedule your test date based on how much time you will need to prepare for the MCAT.
Why you should take the MCAT diagnostic test:
If you’re planning on writing your MCAT after taking all the necessary medical school prerequisites in the second or third year of your undergrad, consider what other academic, professional, and personal commitments you have when you are planning your prep schedule and test date.
If you are planning on taking the MCAT in the year of your application cycle, we strongly advise you to take the MCAT before you begin working on and acquiring other application materials, like , work and employment entries, transcripts, and . While it is possible to combine MCAT prep with the application process, it would be much easier to concentrate on the quality of your application components after you finish the MCAT test.
So, consider when your chosen application system opens and plan to write the MCAT a few weeks before that date. For example, the AMCAS application opens in May, which means that you should try to write your MCAT no later than April. This way, you will be able to take a break between rigorous MCAT studying and brainstorming your and section.
Whether you are a DO or MD applicant, when you are ready to register, have your valid government-issued ID ready. Note: use the same ID on your MCAT test date when you register at the test center. Also, have your credit card ready so you can pay the registration fee.
You will register for the MCAT using your AAMC account by visiting the AAMC website. If you do not have an account, you must create one on the AAMC website. Write down your username, password, and security questions somewhere safe where you can access this information at any time.
When you fill out the MCAT registration, make sure the information you provide matches the ID you will be using on the MCAT test day. Once you provide all the necessary information, pick your preferred location. See whether there are seats available on your preferred test date. If yes, register for that date; if not, you must find a different location or date.
Want us to summarize some key points? Take a look at this infographic:
As I already mentioned, when you are scheduling your MCAT test date, you should leave 3 to 6 months for your MCAT prep. To stay on track with your preparations, create an efficient MCAT study schedule.
Your schedule must be very honest and thorough. What do I mean by that? When you are creating your schedule, keep in mind other duties and commitments that might interfere with your MCAT prep. In your schedule, outline how many hours of MCAT prep you can do per day (be honest!), which content areas you will cover, and what active study strategies you will use to grasp this content.
You do not have to sacrifice your life to have an efficient schedule! While you may be able to dedicate almost a full day to MCAT study on a Saturday, let’s say, your Tuesday may only fit 1 or 2 hours of MCAT prep. To have an effective , be honest with how much prep you can fit in each day of the week and try to stick to this time commitment.
However, keep in mind that you can rearrange your study schedule as you run into challenges or grow in knowledge and skill – your schedule should address your needs. This is a normal part of MCAT prep.
Check out these MCAT study schedules if you're short on time:
The simple answer is this: take the MCAT only when you are feeling 100% ready. While unsatisfactory at first glance, this answer should be your guiding light when you are preparing to take the MCAT. Feeling confident in your test-taking abilities and your knowledge will save you lots of time, money, and stress.
As part of your MCAT prep, you will be taking several full-length practice exams and using to gauge your progress and see which content areas still need some work. Take note of your progress. If you score consistently in the 90th percentile during your practice tests, you are most likely ready to take the actual test. The keyword here is “consistently” – it’s not enough to score in the 90th percentile once or twice. You must score in the 90th percentile at least three times consecutively before you are ready to take the exam.
Score in the 90th percentile in your practice tests consistently before taking the real test:
Another note: if you notice that your score keeps improving with each full-length practice test, you might want to keep studying. A plateaued score in the 90th percentile is good, but if you can do even better, we encourage you to keep up with your MCAT prep. Remember, you want to get a stellar score! If your score during practice keeps going up, then don’t stop at a certain number or percentile! Aim for the highest MCAT score possible and keep up with your prep.
Remember that you can only retake the MCAT 7 times in your lifetime. You can only retake the test 3 times in a one-year period or 4 times in a 2-year period, so it's best to ace the MCAT the first time around and get the score you want. You'll also save yourself monetary fees, time and stress!
Check out the best MCAT study schedule in our video:
If you're nervous about what to do on test day or what to bring with you, make a quick checklist of all materials you'll need to bring, and follow these tips!
- Double check the date, time and location of your test. Confirm the test start time, your test date and the address of your testing site. Plan to arrive early and give yourself lots of time. If you're traveling, account for traffic or travel time if your test site is some distance away.
- Bring a valid government-issued ID with you. You will have to go through security measures onsite, including a palm scan and photo before being allowed inside. You'll also need to sign in before being allowed into the test room.
- Bring plenty of water and snacks with you. It will be a long day!
- Check ahead of time that you'll have somewhere to safely store your personal belongings, as you won't be able to take them with you. Your test will be taken on a computer that will be provided.
- If you need to take a break or you've finished your exam, stay in your seat and raise your hand.
1. Which MCAT test date should I pick?
Your choice will depend on many factors. Primarily, your circumstances and your level of preparedness will determine your test date.
To choose the optimal date, you should estimate how much time you will need for MCAT prep. Take the diagnostic test to see how much revision and studying is necessary. Depending on your level of readiness, schedule a test date that will allow you to cover the content areas you need to improve and get used to the MCAT format.
Other factors that will affect your test date choice are application timelines, availability of test centers and test dates, and other professional and academic commitments.
2. When should I take the MCAT?
Take the MCAT when you are feeling 100% ready. This typically means that you are consistently scoring in the 90th percentile during your practice tests.
3. What do I need to register for the MCAT?
You will need to create an AAMC account. If you already have an AAMC account, make sure to use it – do not create a new account if you forgot your username or password. Have your credit card ready to pay the registration fee.
You will also need a valid government-issued ID to register. Make sure to use the same ID when you register in the test center on the day of the exam.
4. When does registration for the MCAT test dates open?
In November, registration for January and March MCAT dates opens. On February 15, registration for April, May, and June dates opens. And in May, registration for July, August, and September dates opens.
5. Can I reschedule or cancel my MCAT test date?
6. How long should I have to study for the MCAT?
This also depends on your level of knowledge and familiarity with the MCAT. If you are writing the MCAT a couple of years after taking the necessary courses, aim to have 6 months for revision and practice. However, a three-month period is also a very feasible timeline to get ready. Many students take their summer breaks to get ready for the MCAT.
7. How should I prepare for the MCAT?
You must have an effective MCAT study schedule to be able to tackle all the content areas and get comfortable with the test format.
The first part of your preparations will be content-heavy. You will focus on reviewing disciplines and concepts that need your attention. Once the content review is over, focus on taking a full-length practice test and going over practice questions. Make sure to include practice with , , physics equations, and psychology and sociology questions in your study schedule.
8. What is a good MCAT score?
Simply put, a good MCAT score is equal to or higher than the average score set by your chosen schools. Remember, you must at least meet their expectations when it comes to GPA and MCAT. Grades and scores are typically used in the first stages of the applicant selection process to weed candidates out, so don’t give the admissions committee any reason to cut you out of the applicant pool.
9. How long is the MCAT?
The MCAT is composed of 230 questions. The CARS section has 53 questions, while the other three sections have 59 questions each.
The testing time for the MCAT is 6 hours and 15 minutes, but the total seated time for the MCAT is 7.5 hours for those who take the optional breaks.