MCAT Preparation Overview

The MCAT is the Medical College Admissions Test and is required for any student applying to M.D., D.O., or Podiatry schools. It is recommended you take the MCAT at least a month before the application opens in May. However, if you need to test later, the latest recommended test date would be the end of May in the year you are applying. It is best to take it right after you finish the classes tested on the MCAT, so the content is fresh. The MCAT is administered in January and then between March and September each year.

What content does the MCAT contain?

The MCAT is broken down into four sections:

  1. Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  2. Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  3. Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
  4. Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

How is the MCAT scored?

A score is given for each of the four individual sections and the total. Each section is scored from 118 to 132 points. The total score given is out of a range from 472 to 528 and is the total of the individual sections. Competitive scores are:

Allopathic (M.D.): 510 or above
Osteopathic (D.O): 506 or above
Podiatry: 500 or above

What Classes Should I Complete Before Taking the MCAT?

SOC 111, PSYCH 111, BIO 180, BIO 181, CHEM 105, CHEM 106, CHEM 351, CHEM 352, CHEM 481, PH 105, and PH 106 are all foundational courses to prepare you for the MCAT.

Other courses that may be helpful for your preparation are BIO 375, BIO 461, BIO 240, BIO 321 and CHEM 482.

What are the costs associated with taking the MCAT?

The registration fee for the MCAT is found at students-residents.aamc.org.

The costs for study materials, travel, and the exam can be between $500-$10,000, depending on if you choose to self-study or purchase programs and materials.

There is a fee assistance program. Fee assistance is awarded on a first come basis, so early application is recommended.

How to register for the MCAT

Go to students-residents.aamc.org to register for the exam. You will need to create an AAMC account before you can register.

When you register, you will have access to test dates, times, and test locations. Make sure that whatever information you put in the registration system matches your government issued ID (ex. Driver’s license) exactly. If it does not match on test day, you will not be allowed to take the exam.

Where do I take the MCAT?

The MCAT is administered at approved testing centers throughout the country. The closest location to BYU-Idaho is at Idaho State University in Pocatello. When registering, you will be able to see the different testing center options and select the best one for you. Register early because the testing dates fill fast. If you don’t register early, you may have to travel some distance to take the test. 

How do I Prepare for the MCAT?

Studying for the MCAT is the equivalent of a part-time job. It’s best to study for the MCAT during a flex- track semester.  On average, students study at least 3-4 months for the exam and spend a minimum of 400 hours preparing.  Do not try to cram studying into a few weeks. The biggest mistake students make when preparing for the MCAT is not spending adequate time studying. Even if you feel you are a good test-taker, it is important not to take studying for the MCAT lightly. The MCAT is designed to test critical thinking and is very different than other tests.

The AAMC website offers a free guide to preparing a study plan for the MCAT. If you decide to undertake your preparation by self-study, make sure you have a good plan and stick with it. 

There are multiple test prep courses available. When deciding between the courses, consider the following:

  • Cost: compare what resources will be available through each test prep course for the expense
  • Location: some test prep courses are only available online while other test preps will have in-person classes or tutoring available
  • Guarantee: look into what kind of guarantee the program is offering and what resources will be available if a retake is needed
  • Teaching Style and Structure: Compare the length of the programs, the teaching style, and how the programs are structured.

Helpful Resources and Websites