The MCAT website offers detailed information about what content the exam covers as well as the dates and locations of administration. The format of the MCAT changes after January 2015, so be sure to prepare accordingly.
You should plan to take the test no later than mid-July of the year in which you apply to medical school. If you achieve less than a total of 30 or a score of 7 or lower on any individual test regardless of your total score, you should discuss with the Premedical Program Director whether to retake the exam. Most successful applicants take the test only once after thorough preparation. Taking the actual test “to see how you do” is not advised because medical schools see and consider all of your scores. However, at times it is necessary to retake an exam after carefully preparing.
Some students prepare for the MCAT by taking one of the several commercial courses, e.g., Kaplan or Examkrackers. These courses cost about $2,000. A less expensive, programmed course of self-study is offered with ExamKrackers books, the cost of the books is about $200. The commercial on-site courses review basic concepts and terms and familiarize students with the format and types of questions included in the exam. If you normally do well on standardized tests you probably don't need an expensive commercial course. While some of our students have found these courses helpful, others concede that they could have accomplished as much on their own. In general, it appears that the courses are of greatest benefit to students who are unable or unlikely to follow a schedule of review on their own or who have difficulty with standardized tests. Since such courses are expensive, you should consider whether or not the cost is justified by the possible benefits. Limited scholarship monies from the commercial programs may be available based on financial need.If you decide to take the MCAT during the spring semester, try to plan for a relatively light academic schedule because the preparation time needed is extensive. Your MCAT score is a major factor in medical school acceptance, so your preparation needs to be thorough and systematic.