MCAT & Medical School Admissions

Acing the MCAT - Test Day, Here You Come

Posted by Mark Skoskiewicz on Sun, May 22, 2011 @ 07:05 AM

The day has finally come and now all those hours spent nose to page are going to pay off. But how do we minimize stress and anxiety in order to maximize all of the time we spent in preparation. This post is intended to give you an overview on what to expect on test day. Because being prepared for what you will encounter, in addition to content, will help reduce stress and help you achieve your target score.

The regulations surrounding the testing environment can accelerate the already growing butterfly swarm forming in the pits of the students on test day. Here are the things to expect and ways to overcome and challenge they pose. First, if you haven’t taken a COMPUTER BASED practice test do so immediately. The AAMC practice tests are obviously highly recommended as they are written in the same style, with the same amount of passages and by the people who write the actual MCAT. All MCATs are now computer based, an understanding and familiarity with the tools you are provided on the computer is essential to achieving your target score.

Next, you need an understanding or familiarity with both your test center and the protocols for checking in on the day of your MCAT. Despite the fact that every test center is different you can use these general guidelines and tips to help with the stress the test center. If you have been forced to go outside of your area to take the test we recommend visiting your site before taking your test. With all you have on your mind directions to your test center is one thing you shouldn’t have to worry about. When you do get into your test center, preferably 15 minutes early, understand you will be put in a room with other, nervous students. Putting in your headphones and listening to music can help you focus on your test and not the mountain of nervous energy in the room. When you are called to your testing room you will first be fingerprinted. No you will not have your background checked, but every time you leave the room you will have your print taken on the way out and the way in. Subsequently, you will be asked to put everything you have with you in a locker. Keep only your I.D., which will be used to get in and out of the test room. The proctor will then check all of your pockets to make sure. You cannot bring any phones, food, phones, books, purses, hats or into the testing room.

O.K., test time. You will be in a room with 10-20 students in individual computer cubicles. You will be given 2 pencils a stack of scratch paper and possibly earplugs. Some people like earplugs when taking tests to eliminate background noise, some don’t. Go with what you’re comfortable with, but know that the proctor will stagger start times for the test so people will be getting up intermittently throughout the test. Next, go through the tutorial. For those prepared students who have taken AAMC computer based practice exams, this may seem unnecessary but if your computer has something wrong with it from a sticky key to a broken mouse it is better to catch it here than during the physical sciences section.

First up is the Physical Sciences section, 70 minutes, 52 questions, 13 discrete questions and 7 passages. Afterwards, you will be given a 10-minute break. During your break eat something, drink something and go to the bathroom. The test is 5 hours long! Snacks to keep your energy up, fluids to keep you hydrated and frequent bathroom visits will keep your question-answering mind firing. Then comes Verbal Reasoning, 60 minutes, 40 questions, 7 passages, followed by another break. The writing sample is next, 2 essays 30 minuets each. Again during the writing sample knowing what word processing functions that are available on the actual MCAT will give you an advantage, so take those practice tests. Finally, you have the Biological Sciences section, 70 min, 52 questions, 13 discrete questions and 7 passages. And then it’s time to relax, at least until your applications are due…

For more information on taking the MCAT and rules and regulations surrounding the test visit

Topics: MCAT