Ah, the MCAT…the test that left me in tears and resulted in a month of handwringing and existential crises.

Just kidding! (not really……)

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a standardized test required for application to almost every medical school.** The format has changed over the last few years and now includes four sections: Biology and Biochemistry, Physical Science (basically general chemistry and physics), Verbal (this is the “critical reasoning” section), and the newest section–Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior.

The MCAT is not graded on a curve, but it is scaled. This means that no matter when you take the exam in a given year, all scores will have the same meaning. Scores are released about a month after your test date, which for me meant a month of torture…yes, it’s a long time and yes, it’s awful to wait. When you get your score, you will be able to see the breakdown over the four sections as well as your percentile rank of all test takers. A more detailed and up to date analysis can be found here.

**I say “almost every medical school” because there are some programs that now waive the MCAT under very specific circumstances, such as linkage from a post-baccalaureate pre-medical program or from an accelerated undergraduate pre-medical to med school program at some colleges and universities. These are the minority, so when starting out and first considering medical school, I personally recommend that you assume you will have to take the MCAT at some point.