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Admission Tests

The MCAT

About the MCAT

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a standardized, multiple-choice examination, required for application to medical school in the United States and Canada. This exam attempts to assess the knowledge and skills necessary for success in medical school. The current MCAT was introduced in April 2015.

The current test consists of four sections:

  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • Psychological Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

Medical college admissions committees consider an applicant’s MCAT scores as part of their evaluation of applicants’ academic readiness for medical school. In order to be prepared to take the MCAT, we recommend that students complete the following:

  • 1 year of General Chemistry and General Chemistry Lab
  • 1 year of Cell and Molecular Biology and Biology Lab
  • 1 year of Organic Chemistry and Organic Chemistry Lab
  • 1 year of General Physics and Physics Lab
  • 1 semester of Psychology

Note: While the current MCAT will assess foundational concepts in biochemistry, in evaluating the available information provided by the AAMC regarding the test content, with the assistance of departmental faculty, it is our collective impression that that our introductory sequence in biology (BIOL UN2005-UN2006) will provide a good foundation upon which to prepare for the MCAT.  However, those wishing for more advanced preparation may also consider taking a Biochemistry course to prepare

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.

Fee Assistance

The AAMC Fee Assistance Program (FAP) is designed to be used in conjunction with registration for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT®) and/or for application to medical school through the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS™).

The FAP is provided to assist individuals with extreme financial limitations whose inability to pay the full MCAT registration fee or the AMCAS application fee would prevent them from taking the examination or applying to medical school.

Fee Assistance Program (FAP) eligibility decisions are tied directly to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' poverty level guidelines.

To apply for FAP: http://www.aamc.org/students/applying/fap/start.htm

Fee Assistance MCAT Benefits

When to Take the MCAT

The timing of your MCAT depends on your application timeline. If you plan to apply to go straight on to medical school after graduation, it is recommended to take the MCAT no later than June following your junior year. Remember that the average age of an entering medical school student is 25, and about 80% of Columbia students take a gap year (or more) before applying to medical school. 20 The MCAT is offered on multiple test dates throughout the year, including test dates in January, March, April, May, June, July, August, and September. For a full calendar of test dates and sites, please refer to the MCAT section of the AAMC website: www.aamc.org.

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) for school specific information.

MCAT Preparation

The MCAT tests a student's knowledge of the required premedical sciences. However, preparation is necessary. MCAT courses are generally helpful, though often extremely expensive. If applicants 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 many helpful preparatory materials (some free and some for a fee). Additionally, a number of commercial prep books are available.

Scoring of the MCAT

The MCAT provides one score for each of the four sections and one combined total score. The score scale for individual secions is a 118-132 with a midpoint of 125. Total scores range from 472-528 with a midpoint of 500.

Test-takers will also receive a percentile rank. This rank shows the percentages of test takers who received the same scores or lower scores on the exam . They show how your scores compare to other examinees. Each May, the percentile ranks are updated, compiling data from the most recent testing year.  For more information on scores, please see the AAMC website

Successful MCAT Scores

This varies from school to school. At state schools, expectations for in-state and out-of-state applicants may differ. A subscription to the annual Medical School Admissions Requirements Guide will provide you with detailed information on median MCAT scores for accepted applicants at individual medical schools. 

Re-Testing

If the cause of low scores can be identified and corrected students with less-than-satisfactory scores should retake the test. 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. Applicants 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.

Testing Accommodations

Students with documented disabilities or medical conditions may be granted special testing accommodations for the MCAT. These accommodations are made at the discretion of the MCAT Program.  Applicants seeking testing accomodations should complete the accomations application at least three months prior to your desired test date. The decisions on most requests will be made within 60 days of receipt of the completed application.    

For detailed guidelines about what is needed to apply please consult the AAMC Web site.

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The DAT

About the DAT

The Dental Admission Test is required by all US schools of dentistry. 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 (similar to content on SAT)

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.

Fee Assitance

A limited number of partial fee waivers per calendar year (January-December) are available to DAT candidates, in cases of severe financial hardship. The waiver covers 50% of the DAT fee, which includes the fee for the test and any official score reports requested at the time of application.

Fee waivers are granted on a first-come, first-served basis at the beginning of each calendar year to eligible candidates who have submitted the required documents.

Fee waiver requests will be granted beginning on January 1, and are generally exhausted within two or three months. You can obtain the forms from ADA.org/DAT.

For more information on eligibility and how to apply go to ADA.org/DAT.

When to take the DAT

Applicants should plan to take the DAT by the spring or early summer during the year which they begin to apply to dental school.

Expiration of DAT

This will vary by school. Please check with individual dental schools for more information about theirpolicies.

DAT Scoring

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 18-22 range.

A report of scores is provided to all candidates immediately upon completing the test.This report includes your scaled scores.  The official score report may however take 3-4 weeks to be sent to AADSAS.  

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 transcript of each candidate.

Re-testing

Applicants may retake the test up to three times per year. You must have 90 days between examinations, waiting at least 90 between test dates. Students are advised to be as prepared as possible on their first try.

Testing Accommodations

Students with documented disabilities or medical conditions may be granted special testing accommodations for the DAT. These accommodations are made at the discretion of the DAT Program and must be requested before test registration.   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  Testing Accommodations Guide on the ADA webpage.

More Information

For more information about the DAT, please consult the ADA Web site

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GRE

About the Test

The GRE general test is given on computer and therefore applicants may schedule to take the test at their convenience. The GRE measures verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning (including algebra and geometry), critical thinking and analytical writing.  

For more detailed information about the GRE content please refer to the ETS website

Registering for the GRE

Students should register online at the ETS website.  register online 

Fee Assistance

ETS provides a Fee Reduction Program (50% off) for individuals who demonstrate financial need and for national programs in the United States that work with underrepresented groups, including but not limited to Gates Millenium Scholars, and PREP : Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program. For more information about eligibility and how to apply see:

https://www.ets.org/gre/revised_general/about/fees/reductions

When to take the GRE

Applicants should plan to take the GRE in the spring or early summer during which they begin to apply to veterinary or other health professional program or 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.

GRE Scoring

Scores Reported on the GRE® General Test

Section

Score Scale

Verbal Reasoning

130–170, in 1 point increments

Quantitative Reasoning

130–170, in 1 point increments

Analytical Writing

0–6, in half point increments

Retesting

You can take the test once every 21 days, up to five times within a calendar year. This applies even if you canceled your scores on a test taken previously. You may take the paper-delivered test as often as it is offered.

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