Jonathan Sheng, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor | Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences

School of Pharmacy

The Medical College Admission Test, or MCAT (ˈem-ˌkat) [1], is a standardized examination for prospective medical students in the United States as well as a few other countries such as Australia, Canada, and the Caribbean Islands. It is designed and created to help the admissions offices of medical schools to assess medical school applicants’ knowledge of natural, behavioral, and social science concepts and principles. It also assesses their problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Currently, the MCAT is administered by the Association of American Medical College, or AAMC.

MCAT is a 7.5-hour (including a break) closed-book examination with four 90-95 min. sections, each of which contains 50-60 multiple choice questions:

(1) Chemical and physical foundations of biological systems.

(2) Critical analysis and reasoning skills (CARS).

(3) Biological and biochemical foundations of living systems.

(4) Psychological, social, and biological foundations of behavior.  

Each of these four sections is scored from a low of 118 to a high of 132, with a midpoint of 125 and the sum of the four section scores ranges from 472 to 528, with a midpoint of 500. Significant positive relationships between MCAT composite scores and USMLE (U.S. Medical Licensure Exam, Steps 1 and 2) exam scores have been indicated in the literature [2]. With its predictive value on the USMLA scores, the MCAT has been used as an objective measure for admissions decision-making by medical school officials.


[2] Jacqueline L. Gauer, Josephine M. Wolff and J. Brooks Jackson. (2016) Med Educ Online, 21:31795

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