About the MCAT
According to the American Association of Medical Colleges the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) "is a standardized, multiple-choice examination designed to assess problem solving, critical thinking, and writing skills in addition to the examinee's knowledge of science concepts and principles prerequisite to the study of medicine. Scores are reported in each of the following areas: Verbal Reasoning, Physical Sciences, Writing Sample, and Biological Sciences." Medical college admission committees consider MCAT scores as part of their admission decision process. For more information about the content of the science sections please consult the AAMC Web site. The MCAT is required for both allopathic and osteopathic medical school admission.
Registering for the MCAT
Early Registration Encouraged
Registration for the MCAT occurs online at the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Please register early for the test date that you prefer, as test centers have limited capacity and registrations are processed in the order in which they are received. For the exam and registration schedule, please view the current MCAT Administration Schedule.
You must register through the online program hosted by the AAMC. You will be able to access the system approximately 12 weeks prior to each test date. The regular registration deadline is 14 calendar days prior to the test date. If you miss the regular deadline, you may be able to register during the late time period. A late fee will apply. (The AAMC will be unable to grant fee assistance, ADA accommodations, or special permission during late registration.)
When to Take the MCAT
The MCAT exam is administered 22 times a year, up from just twice annually prior to 2007, and offered at hundreds of test sites in the United States, Canada, and throughout the world.
You will need to take the exam the year in the spring/summer of the year you will apply for medical school or before. Medical schools will, accept scores dating back two or three years prior to application. In the event you have taken the exam previously, we recommend that you check the application policies of each school in which you are interested.
Students who plan on entering medical school directly after graduation should plan take the test in of the spring/early summer of junior year. Students who complete all the coursework in the four basic premedical sciences before junior year may take the MCAT in the summer following their sophomore year.
Medical schools only consider complete applications, and MCAT scores must be included in an application in order for schools to consider it complete. It currently takes four weeks for MCAT scores to be processed and forwarded to medical schools. An early test date is recommended, for this allows for early application and retesting if necessary.
Expiration of MCAT Results
Some medical schools will not accept MCAT test results that are more than two or three years old. If students plan to apply to medical school after spending several years doing something else, they need to determine the best time to take the MCAT. Please consult the Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR) book for school specific information.
The MCAT tests a student's knowledge of the four required premedical sciences. Taking additional science courses (or more advanced courses) seems to have little effect on how well one does. However, some form of preparation is necessary. MCAT courses are generally helpful, though often extremely expensive. If students are interested in taking a preparatory class but feel it would be a significant financial burden, they should inquire with the test prep company about financial aid or scholarships. Although many companies do offer these reductions in price, this is not widely publicized and students must ask specifically for this information.
Students may also review successfully for the MCAT on their own. The Association of American Medical Colleges publishes a helpful MCAT preparation book, and distributes practice tests. Additionally, a number of commercial prep books are available.
Scoring of the MCAT
MCAT scores are based on the four parts of the MCAT exam: Verbal Reasoning (VR), Physical Sciences (PS), Biological Sciences (BS), and the Writing Sample (WS).
Verbal Reasoning, Physical Sciences and Biological Sciences are all scored on a scale from 1-15 and the Writing Sample is scored on a scale of J-T.
Successful MCAT Scores
This varies from school to school, and even from committee member to committee member. At state schools, expectations for in-state and out-of-state applicants may differ. A score of eight is the national average for each of the three categories however, the national average for accepted students is about a 10 in each section. Anything below an 8 in any one section is seriously detrimental, with the possible exception of a slightly lower verbal score for an applicant whose first language is a language other than English.
The Writing Sample
A few medical schools may ask the MCAT Program Office to send writing samples, particularly to assess the verbal skills of applicants whose first language is a language other than English. Some schools say they care about the writing sample, but generally, schools do not seem to pay much attention to the writing sample unless it demonstrates exceptional skill or exceptional deficiency.
If the cause of low scores can be identified and corrected students with less-than-satisfactory scores should retake the test. If the cause cannot be identified and corrected, applicants must carefully discuss the issue with their advisors, taking into account the rest of their record. Re-testing and repeating a mediocre score is not helpful; re-testing and scoring higher is helpful, but may not be worth the delay in an application. Students who are considering re-testing should carefully weigh all of the risks and benefits of this choice. The following document Should I Retake the MCAT? may help in thinking through this decision. Students should also consult with their premedical advisors.
Students with documented disabilities may be granted special testing accommodations for the MCAT. These accommodations are made at the discretion of the MCAT Program and must be requested at the time of registration for the test. For detailed guidelines about what is needed to apply for special accommodations please consult the AAMC Web site.
About the DAT
The Dental Admission Test is required by all US schools of dentistry. It requires students to have had preparation in General Chemistry, Biological Science and Organic Chemistry. Physics is NOT a part of the DAT. The exam is multiple-choice, and takes just over half a day to complete, and is administered solely on the computer at testing centers throughout the country. It consists of 4 separate sections that cover the following:
- Survey of natural sciences (biology, general chemistry and organic chemistry)
- Perceptual ability (2- and 3-dimensional problem-solving)
- Reading comprehension
- Quantitative reasoning
Registering for DAT
You must register and pay for the DAT before scheduling your test date.
The DAT is administered on computer and can be scheduled on almost any day of the year.
When to take the DAT
Applicants should plan to take the DAT in the spring or summer during which they begin to make application to dental school. They may also take this exam earlier.
Expiration of DAT
This will vary by school. Please check with individual dental schools for more information about their requirements.
DAT Scores range from 1 to 30. A score of 17 typically signifies average performance on a national basis. Successful applicants normally score within the 18-20 range.
A report of scores is provided to all candidates immediately upon completing the test. The report includes both standard scores and percentile equivalents.
The results of the four most recent DATs are released on the official transcript of scores and forwarded to dental schools. Also, the total number of DATs is listed on the official transcripts of each candidate.
There is no restriction on how many times students can retake the DAT, however, dental schools will become suspicious of candidates who continue to retake the test. Students are advised to be as prepared as possible on their first try. Applicants who do decide to retake the test must wait at least 90 days between test administrations.
Students with documented disabilities may be granted special testing accommodations for the DAT. These accommodations are made at the discretion of the DAT Program and must be requested at the time of registration for the test. Applicants must request the accommodation as well as provide documentation of the disability and its effect on the candidate's ability to participate under standard testing conditions. For more information about required documentation please read the Examinee Guide on the ADA webpage.
For more information about the DAT, please consult the ADA Web site
About the Test
According to the Educational Testing Service, the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) General Test "measures analytical writing, verbal, and quantitative skills that have been acquired over a long period of time and that are not related to any specific field of study."
- The GRE general test is given on computer and therefore applicants may schedule to take the test at their convenience.
- The GRE subject tests measure students' knowledge of specific subject matters which may be required as preparation for graduate study.
- Subject tests are not yet available on computer and therefore test takers will be required to find out well in advance when this test is being offered.
For more detailed information about the GRE please refer to their Web site.
Registering for the GRE
Students may register online or register by phone by calling 1-800-GRE-CALL.
When to take the GRE
Applicants should plan to take the GRE in the spring or summer during which they begin to apply to veterinary school. They may also take this exam earlier.
Expiration of GRE
AAVMC institutions may not accept standardized test scores that are older than two to three years. Please check with individual schools for more information.
Three scores are reported on the General Test:
- a verbal score reported on a 200-800 score scale, in 10-point increments
- a quantitative score reported on a 200-800 score scale, in 10-point increments
- an analytical writing score reported on a 0-6 score scale, in half-point increments
For the subject test, one total score is reported on a 200-990 score scale, in 10-point increments.
You may take the computer-based General Test once per calendar month up to 5 times in a 12-month period. You may take Subject Tests as often as they are offered.