How Difficult is the MCAT Exam?


Are you about to go through the MCAT registration process or already have? Then it’s time to study and do your best to increase the chance of passing!

However, you may have stopped to think about the actual difficulty level of the MCAT exam. After all, you want to know what to expect!

Well, let’s put it this way. The MCAT is harder than your typical college exam and will require a lot of hours of studying and commitment to pass. But just how hard is this exam anyway?

The Honest Truth About the MCAT Exam

You’re probably thinking: I can just take the MCAT practice test multiple times until I ace it and then I’ll be ready for the real thing!

Sure, in an ideal world!

According to the AAMC, there were almost 53,000 applicants to allopathic medical schools in 2020. Among those, only less than 21,000 were accepted. Furthermore, the average MCAT scores for accepted students were on the 83rd percentile, or 31.4. The average MCAT score was about a 506.4 last year.

Here are the challenges you will face as you take the MCAT.

  • How long is it?

The MCAT is one of the longest exams you’ll ever take. The testing time itself is exactly 6 hours and 15 minutes, and the total seated time is about 7 hours and 30 minutes or longer. To compare, the SATs would only take 3 hours!

  • How many questions?

The MCAT would have 230 total questions covering various topics, which include chemistry, physics, biology, psychology, sociology, psychology, and reading comprehension.

Just reading the topics alone, you will already see that most of these subjects are different compared to other exams and require more studying. You may have to study differently for one subject over another to ensure you master everything, focusing on your weaker subjects.

  • What kind of exam is this?

This is a passage-based exam, so all the questions would be 6-7 paragraphs long, making it even more complex. You can’t just recall facts you memorized to answer the question.

Rather, you have to absorb the information from the question and interpret different drawings and graphs based on knowledge from studying. You might have to draw out biological processes to understand questions and find the answers. This means you’ll need logic, common sense, and background knowledge working together to quickly analyze and answer what is asked.

And while you may think 6 hours and 15 minutes is long for 240 questions, it is actually a very short amount of time. You will find a lot of students who struggle to finish different sections of the MCAT in the scheduled time. These are points wasted that could have helped applicants pass.

While the MCAT is a difficult test, it isn’t an impossible obstacle and can be passed with a good study plan and the commitment to stick to it.

Wrapping It Up

YES, the MCAT exam is difficult, which is why you need to start planning now and allocate at least 3-6 months of your time studying for it. Good luck and stay consistent with your study plan!