If you are applying to a medical school, familiarizing yourself with the MCAT exam structure is crucial before you even begin to worry about application structures. The MCAT, which stands for the Medical College Admission Test, is a standardized test that is required by virtually all admissions councils when reviewing an application for admission into a medical school.

It is extremely important that anyone who wants to gain entry into this type of program has the skills and knowledge that they need to problem solve and think critically while they are studying medicine. While there is no fool proof way to assess reasoning and critical thinking skills, this test covers the concepts that medical schools care about. Read on, and learn about the structure and how early you need to schedule your exam before the admissions deadlines.

What Concepts does the Exam Cover?

The health care systems has been undergoing a great deal of change and the MCAT exam is changing, as well. Pre-med students of today need to be familiar with concepts and skills that doctors of the past did not need to know prior to entering medical school. This is why the MCAT has changed and the 2015 version of the test has been updated to test examinees on medical research, scientific knowledge and medical system reforms.

With the update comes a new structure. You must pass each of four different sections that include the following concepts: biological and biochemical foundations of living systems, chemical and physical foundations of biological systems, psychological foundations of behavior, critical thinking and reasoning. Your score will be reported for each section to see where your strengths and your weaknesses lie before you study medicine.

How is the Exam Scored?

The MCAT exam consists of a series of multiple choice questions. Each section is given a number score between 118 and 132. The higher the score, the better you did on the section, with the midpoint being around 125. The total MCAT score can be anywhere between 472 and 528, with a 528 total being the best possible.Based on the scores that have been submitted in the past, the average score is 500.

In order to pass the exam, you must get an acceptable score, however the score thresholds are not set by the Association of American Medical Colleges. Instead the score requirements are set by each school for their own admissions standards. You should check with your chosen medical schools to understand their minimum score requirements for admission. For applications to competitive schools, getting a high score will bump you up on the list of candidates.

You should register to take your MCAT exam in advance so that your scores can be reported before admissions deadlines. You can take your MCAT two times throughout the year. You will either test between April and June or between July and September. Before you can schedule a date you need to register with the Association of American Medical Colleges. Registration opens about 2 months before the test date periods open. Be sure to check the deadlines, register before this deadline, and then you can start to prep with all of the materials that are available to you. Practice with the actual MCAT exam structure so that you feel comfortable on test day.