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PREPARING FOR THE MCAT
HOW YOU CAN ACHIEVE A TOP MCAT SCORE
By reviewing and studying the material in this book, you can achieve a top score on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). This book has been designed to thoroughly prepare you for the MCAT by providing you with six full-length exams that accurately reflect the MCAT in both the level of difficulty and nature of the questions. The exams provided are based on the current computerized format of the MCAT and include every type of question you may encounter during the actual examination.
Following each exam is an answer key, complete with detailed explanations and solutions designed to clarify the material. Our objective is to provide you with not only answers but also explanations of why one answer is more acceptable than another. Our topical reviews will take you through the very material you're most likely to encounter on the MCAT. By completing all six practice exams and studying the explanations that follow, you can discover your strengths and weaknesses. Then you can concentrate on the sections of the exam that give you the most difficulty. Our reviews cover each topic on the test: chemistry (general and organic), biology, and physics. We've also provided a mathematics review section to help sharpen the skills needed for the science sections. You'll also find powerful tips for completing the Verbal Reasoning section.
The reviews themselves are interspersed with drills to raise your comfort level. Two of the practice tests in this book and software package are included in two formats: in printed form in this book, and in TestWare format on CD. We recommend that you begin your preparation by taking the practice exams on your computer. The software provides timed conditions, automatic scoring, and scoring information that makes it easier to target your strengths and weaknesses.
Also included on the CD is REA's Visual Medical Reference Library. We provide 22 full-color charts that clearly present human anatomy. These charts will be of great help with your MCAT studies and beyond.
ABOUT THE MCAT
The MCAT is required by virtually all American medical schools and is a top criterion for admission. The test is also given internationally in 15 other countries, including Canada and China. Every year, more than 75,000 medical school applicants submit MCAT results, along with other undergraduate records, as part of the highly competitive medical school admissions process. Each medical school has a formula for evaluating your application, and different schools attach different weight to your MCAT scores. As a general rule, however, MCAT scores are equally as important as your overall grade-point average and interview performance. In a word, you must achieve a high MCAT score to have a reasonable chance for admission. And, of course, the MCAT's importance is heightened if you are applying to a highly competitive medical school.
The MCAT is administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges several times from late January to early September. You should choose the test date appropriate to the application requirements of the medical school(s) of your choice. However, medical school admissions advisors generally suggest that you take the MCAT in the spring before the year you plan to begin your studies. Spring test dates are preferable because test results will be ready in time for early processing of your medical school application.
In addition, if you perform poorly on the MCAT administered in the spring, you will have an opportunity to retake the test in the summer. Scores for the late-summer administration of the MCAT are available in time to meet most application deadlines.
Preparing for the MCAT
The only way to register for the MCAT is online. You will be able to access the Web registration site approximately 120 days before each test date. Candidates are urged to register early, at least 60 days before the test date. Registrations are processed in the order received, so submitting your registration early increases your chance to get tested at your first-choice test center. The regular registration deadline is 14 calendar days before the test date. Accommodations are possible for certain disabilities, in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. If you are disabled, you must submit documentation with your MCAT registration, and you will receive written notification regarding your request and specific instructions pertaining to the accommodation.
About five weeks before each test date, the MCAT Program Office begins mailing appointment times, admission tickets, and identification (ID) cards. If you do not receive your confirmation e-mail, admission ticket, and ID card within a reasonable time after registration, call the MCAT Program Office.
The admission ticket will show the exact address of the test center and the date and time of your test. Keep it in a safe place and remember to bring it to the test. If you have any further questions, ask your academic supervisor, or contact:
MCAT Program Office
Association of American Medical Colleges
Section for Applicant Assessment Services
2450 N Street, NW
Washington, DC 20037-1127
Phone: (202) 828-0690
FAX: (202) 828-4799
Web site: www.aamc.org
CHANGES TO THE MCAT
The MCAT will be changing over the next few years. If you plan on taking the test in 2013 or 2014, you should familiarize yourself with the following test changes.
As of January 2013, an optional trial section replaced the Writing Sample section. These 32 unscored questions cover psychology, sociology, and biochemistry. The trial is administered in a 45-minute time period after the Physical Sciences, Verbal Reasoning, and Biological Sciences sections have been administered.
The 2013 and 2014 total testing time will not change.
In 2015, the MCAT will undergo a radical test change. The new exam will include a section on social and behavioral sciences, called Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior. This section will assess a student's ability to understand and communicate with patients of all cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. A new Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section will test students' analysis, evaluation, and reasoning skills. The testing time for the 2015 exam will increase to about six and a half hours.
For more information about these test changes and how they may affect you, visit www.aamc.org.
Preparing for the MCAT 5
FORMAT OF THE MCAT
In addition to testing your basic scientific knowledge in the fields of biology, chemistry, and physics, the MCAT will test your problem-solving and critical thinking skills. The exam appointment, which lasts 5 hours 10 minutes, is composed of three basic sections, each containing brief passages that outline a situation.
Following the passages are multiple-choice questions, which are designed to test your knowledge and various skills that the Association of American Medical Colleges has determined are prerequisites for medical school and the practice of medicine. As of January 2013, an optional trial section replaced the writing sample section.
Physical Sciences (70 minutes)
This section consists of 52 physics and general chemistry questions.
Verbal Reasoning (60 minutes)
This section consists of 40 reading comprehension questions based on seven passages.
Biological Sciences (70 minutes)
This section consists of 52 general biology and organic chemistry questions.
Trial Section (optional) (45 minutes) This unscored section consists of 32 questions in either biochemistry, biology, chemistry, and physics or in psychology, sociology, and biology.
Survey (optional) (10 minutes)
Total Content Time: 4 hours and 5 minutes