Here’s an introductory paragraph about this set of FAQ. Following this, there are options for you to select what kind of FAQ page you’d like to use.

You can use simple Questions and Answers on one line, or you can choose questions with Top Level Categories. The MCAT 2015 questions have Top Level Categories.

What is Changing?

Why is the MCAT changing?

To keep pace with changes in the study and practice of medicine
Periodic reviews are essential in standardized testing, and that’s especially true for a rapidly evolving field like medicine. The number of new and innovative treatments continues to grow, and our ever-changing society constantly presents new challenges, such as the demands of serving an increasingly diverse and aging population.

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), which administers the MCAT, completed a three-year review of the MCAT in 2011 – the fifth one since the test was introduced in 1928. The MCAT had not been substantially updated since 1992, and in 2012 the AAMC decided that it was time for a major overhaul. The result is MCAT2015.

The AAMC expects MCAT2015 will be good for at least 15 years. The current MCAT will have been in use for 23 years when it’s phased out in 2015, so the new test should last for a couple of decades.

Our healthcare system will need doctors who understand not just how the body works, but also how broader factors like culture, income level, and mental outlook affect health and wellbeing. MCAT2015 will test for the knowledge and skills of tomorrow’s doctors.

To yield more accurate results by increasing the sample size of test questions
If you know your statistics, you’ll know that the larger the sample, the more statistically valid are its results. That’s why the AAMC has drastically increased the number of questions, and we’ll consider this further when we look at the structure of MCAT2015.

When is the MCAT changing?

The last administration of the current MCAT will be in late January 2015 and the first administration of MCAT2015 will be in the spring of 2015.

How is the structure changing?

Old MCAT MCAT2015
Section Questions Minutes Passages Section Questions Minutes Passages
Physical Sciences 52 70 7 Chemical & Physical Foundations of Biological Systems 59 95 10
Verbal Reasoning 40 60 7 Critical Analysis & Reasoning Skills 53 90 9
Biological Sciences 52 70 7 Biological & Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems 59 95 10
Psychological, Social, & Biological Foundations of Behavior 59 95 10
3 144 3h 20m 21 4 230 6h 15m 39
Old MCAT
Section Questions Minutes Passages
Physical Sciences 52 70 7
Verbal Reasoning 40 60 7
Biological Sciences 52 70 7
3 144 3h 20m 21
MCAT2015
Section Questions Minutes Passages
Chemical & Physical Foundations of Biological Systems 59 95 10
Critical Analysis & Reasoning Skills 53 90 9
Biological & Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems 59 95 10
Psychological, Social, & Biological Foundations of Behavior 59 95 10
4 230 6h 15m 39

More Sections
The biggest change comes with the addition of a fourth section. Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior will test for social and behavioral sciences. The three existing sections will also change:

  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems replaces the Physical Sciences section, and adds 7 more questions
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills supplants Verbal Reasoning, and has 13 more questions
  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems updates the Biological Sciences section with 7 additional questions.

More Questions
In 2007 the AAMC reduced the number of questions on the MCAT, but soon realized that the smaller number did not yield statistically valid results for each section, making it harder for admissions committees to assess applicants. MCAT2015 addresses this by nearly doubling the number of questions to 230, leading to more accurate scores in each section. This will give admissions committees a clearer picture of an applicant’s relative strengths and weaknesses in the natural sciences, the social and behavioral sciences, and in critical analysis and reasoning.

More Time
At six and a quarter hours, it will take nearly twice as long to write MCAT2015. That’s a tough slog. It will be a real test not just of your science knowledge and critical thinking skills, but of your mental stamina as well. But if you plan to be a doctor you’d better get used to marathon tests. The medical licensing exams (“the boards”) you’ll take during and after medical school are even longer. So MCAT2015 gives you a taste of what will follow in your medical training.

More Passages
Today’s MCAT has three sections with seven passages each. MCAT2015 will have ten passages in each Science section and nine passages in the CARS section. That means an almost twofold increase from 21 passages to 39. The 3:1 ratio between passage-based questions and stand-alone questions in the Science sections will continue with each containing 44 passage-based questions and 15 stand-alone questions.

How are the topics Changing?

Current MCAT MCAT2015
Section Topics Section Topics
Physical Sciences General Chemistry
Physics
Biological & Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems Biology
Biochemistry
Organic Chemistry
General Chemistry
Biological Sciences Biology
Organic Chemistry
Verbal Reasoning None Chemical & Physical Foundations of Biological Systems General Chemistry
Biochemistry
Physics
Organic Chemistry
Biology
Psychological, Social, & Biological Foundations of Behavior Psychology
Sociology
Biology
Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills None

As the chart makes clear, there are big changes to the natural sciences topics, with new ones added and existing ones moved to different sections. And the new Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior section introduces completely new social and behavioral sciences topics.

The current MCAT is neatly compartmentalized and predictable in the way it tests for topics, each one being consigned to one section and two per science section. That changes in MCAT2015, which will have as many as five topics per section. It takes a more interdisciplinary approach, and there is a greater blending of separate topics in passages and questions.

Why are topics changing?

In their review of the MCAT the AAMC surveyed medical school faculty, residents, and students to discover which topics are most critical to medical school success and what place they will have in future medical school curricula.

This chart summarizes the results. The biggest change is the critical importance of Biochemistry for med students. No surprise, if you consider how many emerging fields in medicine require a grasp of topics such as molecular medicine, individualized treatments, or genomics.

Another change is the prominence of Statistics and Research Methods. This is a relatively minor topic on the current MCAT, but it’s become almost as important as the core Sciences in MCAT2015.

Why include social and behavioral sciences?

Medicine is increasingly taking into account the impact of behaviour, socioeconomic status, and environmental issues on health and wellness. This includes things like depression, addiction, poverty, malnutrition, and unequal access to treatment. These new fields also emphasize research methods and data analysis, which are essential for understanding and practicing evidence‐based medicine.

The AAMC knows that medical schools are developing courses that deal with these factors, and future doctors will need to understand them if they’re to be effective. MCAT2015 will reflect these realities.

How is the value of topics changing?

Current MCAT MCAT2015
Topic Questions Value Topic Questions Value
VR 40 33% CARS 53 25%
Biology 40 25% Biology 44 20%
General Chem 26 16% Psych 38 16%
Physics 26 16% Bio Chem 29 12%
Organic Chem 12 8% General Chem 21 9%
Sociology 18 7%
Physics 15 6%
Organic Chem 12 5%

Questions
The number of questions increases for CARS and Biology, and decreases a bit for General and Organic Chemistry. There are many fewer questions for Physics, which may sound like good news, but in reality the range of testable Physics topics is about the same. However, MCAT2015 will use a smaller set of questions to evaluate your comprehension of introductory Physics, and they will account for a smaller share of your score.

Value
In considering the value for each section, keep in mind that it equals the percentage of total score, not total questions. So CARS, for instance, accounts for 23 percent of MCAT2015’s questions, but it makes up 25 percent of the score. It’s also worth noting that all topics will drop in value to make room for Biochemistry, Psychology, and Sociology.

Weighting of each of the four sections will be left up to each medical school. Some schools focus on training scientists or researchers, for instance, while others train primary care workers. Schools will weigh sections differently according to their core mission.

That’s one reason why MCAT2015 is so much longer – it gives more statistical validity to the individual test sections and makes it easier to weight them differently. You can expect the weight given to the new social and behavioral sciences section to vary from one medical school to another.

What is the test day schedule?

It will be a LONG test day. 7 hours 30 minutes (see table below) is a best case scenario. In practice, your test day will be much longer and a bit unsettling due to administrative delays and tight security.

You must report to the test center at least 30 minutes early and the AAMC warns “you should be prepared to wait up to one hour. On rare occasions, wait times may extend past one hour.” This means you may be at the testing site for as long as two hours before you even get started.

The security can be bothersome too. Check-in includes taking a digital image of your fingerprint. Each time you re-enter the test room after breaks, you will be scanned with a metal detector wand and you may also be asked to turn your pockets inside-out to show they are empty.

How is scoring changing?

MCAT2015 Score Reports will include three types of scores:

  • scaled scores
  • confidence intervals
  • percentile ranks

Your raw score (not on the Score Report) is simply the number of questions you answer correctly in each section. Your raw score is converted to a scaled score using a statistical procedure called equating that adjusts for differences in difficulty between test forms. MCAT2015 will have a new scoring scale. Each of the four test sections will be scored using a range from 118 (lowest) to 132 (highest), with a median score of 125. Scores for the four sections will be combined to create a total score ranging from 472 (lowest) to 528 (highest), with a median score of 500. According to the AAMC, the unorthodox numbers were selected to avoid confusion with scoring scales used on other standardized tests. It will also make it tricky to compare scores on the new test (118-132 on each section and 472-528 overall) with those from the old test (1-15 on each section and 3-45 overall).

MCAT2015 score reports (sample below) will also include confidence intervals – the range of test scores an examinee can probably achieve – to discourage admissions committees from exaggerating the significance of small differences between applicants’ scores.

A percentile rank is also reported for each section and for the test as a whole, reflecting the percentage of candidates scoring below your scores. Your scaled scores and percentile ranks are the most important in the admissions process.

What does this mean for course selection?

Old MCAT MCAT2015
Highly Recommended

Biology (2 Semesters)
General Chemistry (2 Semesters)
Organic Chemistry (2 Semesters)
Physics (2 Semesters)

Biochemistry (1 Semester)
Biology (2 Semesters)
General Chemistry (2 Semesters)
Organic Chemistry (2 Semesters)
Physics (2 Semesters)
Psychology (1 Semester)
Sociology (1 Semester)
Lab component in two Science courses

Recommended Electives that emphasize critical thinking and critical reading Electives that emphasize critical thinking and critical reading
Bonus Molecular Biology
Genetics

Research Methods
Statistics
Molecular Biology
Genetics

There are NO academic prerequisites to write the MCAT (although most medical schools have academic prerequisites for admission) but several undergraduate courses will help you prepare. Both the current MCAT and MCAT2015 cover concepts in one year (or two semester) introductory courses in Biology, Physics, General (Inorganic) Chemistry, and Organic Chemistry (8 semesters of coursework). MCAT2015 adds concepts in half year (or one semester) introductory courses in Psychology, Sociology, and Biochemistry (11 semesters of coursework). MCAT2015 will also feature more questions on research methods and statistics but the AAMC says these won’t be more advanced than what’s covered in your introductory science courses – especially the lab components. If you want to sharpen your knowledge of these areas consider electives in basic Statistics for non-majors and Research Methods in Psychology as it’s expected these questions will be disproportionately prevalent in the new social and behavioral sciences section (60% Psychology, 30% Sociology).

What official preparation tools will be available?

Below are AAMC resources to help you prepare for MCAT2015 listed in chronological order of release:

What’s on the MCAT2015 Exam?
This interactive tool gives an overview of the test sections, foundational concepts, content categories, and skills tested on MCAT2015 (click here)

The Official Guide to the MCAT® Exam (MCAT2015), Fourth Edition
The second section of this guide includes 120 practice questions for the new test. The same 120 practice questions are also available online so you can practice using the computer interface (click here).

Official MCAT Sample Test
The AAMC will release the first official full-length (230 questions) practice test in the fall of 2014.

Official MCAT Study Questions
The AAMC will release several sets of practice questions from past preparation products that have been reclassified according to the MCAT2015 exam in early 2015

Official MCAT2015 Practise Test #1
The AAMC will release the second official full-length (230 questions) practice test in the fall of 2015 and this will be the first to offer an estimated scaled score.

What are the other changes?

Price
The fee will increase from $275 to $300.

Test Dates
Registration for the new MCAT will open in the February 2015 and there will be 14 test dates between April and September (see calendar below) compared to 22 test dates over the same months in 2014. The AAMC says it plans to add more seats so fewer dates will not mean fewer spots. Afternoon sessions have been eliminated and all test dates will start at 8am.

More interdisciplinary passages and questions
The current test clearly distinguishes between the sciences, but that will change with MCAT2015 with the blending of topics in sections, passages, and questions.

Chemistry and Physics will be tested in the context of biological systems
The current MCAT treats Chemistry and Physics topics like they’re straight out of the textbook. MCAT2015 will focus on how they affect living systems.

Many more questions on research methods and statistical analysis
Knowledge of research and statistics are essential for medical school, but they’re not in the list of topics in the new sections. Instead they’ve been added to the question types. You’ll need to demonstrate the natural scientist’s ability to solve problems with research methods and statistical skills – that you know how to “do” Science.

The three Science sections in MCAT2015 will have more questions about these skills, though there will probably be more of them in the new social and behavioral sciences section. According to the AAMC, you won’t need to take courses in Research Methods or Statistics. You should be able to pick up what you need in your introductory science courses, especially those with a laboratory component.

More time per question
You’ll get 97 seconds per Science question and 102 seconds per CARS question on MCAT2015 increases from 81 seconds and 90 seconds respectively. The allowance of more time per question is necessitated by the increase in time-consuming passages from 21 today to 39 on MCAT2015.

Fewer low‐yield Science topics
MCAT2015 will still test basic science concepts covered in the pre-med curriculum, but some are being cut back. In Physics, for example, some of the more finicky subtopics such as center of mass or circular motion are gone, and there is a slight shift in emphasis towards physical concepts that overlap with Biology. However, what is being added outweighs what’s being cut, and the breadth of MCAT2015 will be much greater.

No natural sciences or technology passages in CARS section
Passages in the CARS section will be evenly split between Humanities and Social Sciences topics.

How long will MCAT scores from before 2015 be valid?

Each medical school sets its own admissions policies and there is wide variation among them. The old rule-of-thumb was that MCAT scores had a valid lifespan of three to five years. With the advent of MCAT2015, however, medical schools face the dilemma of equating pools of applicants who have written two different versions of the MCAT with significant variations in content and scoring scales.

As shown in the chart below, medical schools have chosen three responses to the question of how long to continue accepting scores from the old test:

  • hard transition (stop accepting old scores in first application cycle);
  • one year grace period (stop accepting old scores in second application cycle);
  • soft transition (continue accepting old scores for at least three more application cycles).

Important! This chart was last updated on June 9, 2014 and is NOT official. It also omits medical schools that do not require MCAT scores for admission: Laval, Montreal, Northern Ontario, Ottawa, and Sherbrooke.

Medical School MCAT score before 2015 accepted if applying in 2015 to start in 2016 MCAT score before 2015 accepted if applying in 2016 to start in 2017 MCAT score before 2015 accepted if applying in 2017 to start in 2018
Alberta No No No
British Columbia Yes No No
Calgary No No No
Dalhousie Yes No No
Manitoba Decision Pending Decision Pending Decision Pending
Memorial Yes Yes Yes
McGill Yes Yes Yes
McMaster Yes (may change) Yes (may change) Yes (may change)
Queen’s Yes Yes Yes
Saskatchewan Yes Decision Pending Decision Pending
Toronto Yes (may change) Yes (may change) Yes (may change)
Western Yes Yes Yes

What is not Changing?

What is not Changing?

Format
MCAT2015 will still be computerized, passage‐based, and multiple‐choice.

3:1 Ratio
The 3:1 ratio between passage-based questions and stand-alone questions in the Science sections will continue with each containing 44 passage-based questions and 15 stand-alone questions.

Relevance of pre-med curriculum
MCAT2015 will still test topics covered in the core eight-semester pre-med curriculum (two semesters each of Biology, Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Physics). A few low-yield topics will be eliminated or narrowed but the vast majority of topics previously tested will still be tested.

Skills tested in Science sections
MCAT2015 will still primarily be a critical thinking test. Questions in the three Science sections will be skewed towards problem-solving and scientific reasoning over content knowledge:

  • Scientific reasoning and problem-solving (45 percent of questions)
  • Scientific knowledge of concepts and principles (35 percent of questions)
  • Reasoning about the design and execution of research (10 percent of questions)
  • Data-based and statistical reasoning (10 percent of questions)

Skills tested in CARS section
The CARS section will still test the same critical analysis skills as the current VR section. However, for the first time the AAMC gives a breakdown of the percentage of questions devoted to each skill (unfortunately, the most difficult questions are also the most numerous):

  • Comprehension (30 percent of questions)
  • Reasoning within the text (30 percent of questions)
  • Reasoning beyond the text (40 percent of questions)

Importance
A competitive MCAT score will still be a key determinant of success or failure in the medical school admissions process.

What are the new sections?

What is the Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems section?

  • 59 questions in 95 minutes (97 seconds per question)
  • 10 passages with sets of 4-6 questions
  • 44 passage-based questions
  • 15 stand‐alone, non-passage‐based, questions

This section asks you to solve problems by combining your knowledge of foundational concepts in the biological and biochemical sciences with your scientific inquiry, reasoning, and research and statistics skills. It will test your knowledge of the concepts governing processes in living systems, such as growing and reproducing; maintaining a constant internal environment; acquiring materials and energy; and sensing and responding to environmental changes. It will also test for knowledge of how cells and organ systems within an organism act independently and in concert to accomplish these processes.

This section replaces the Biological Sciences section of the current MCAT but increases the weight of Biology (65 percent) and Biochemistry (25 percent). That leaves only five percent for General Chemistry, and five percent for Organic Chemistry. But don’t get too excited – most Organic Chemistry topics currently in the Biological Sciences section will move to the new Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems section.

What is the Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems section?

  • 59 questions in 95 minutes (97 seconds per question)
  • 10 passages with sets of 4-6 questions
  • 44 passage-based questions
  • 15 stand‐alone, non-passage‐based, questions

This section asks you to solve problems by combining your knowledge of foundational concepts in the chemical and physical sciences with your understanding of scientific inquiry, reasoning, and research and statistics. It basically replaces the current Physical Sciences section, but has less Physics, and with most of Organic Chemistry moved from Biological Sciences section and the addition of Biochemistry.

The context in which these topics are tested is also changing. Instead of passages about pulleys or test‐tube reactions, this section will test your knowledge of how these general principles apply to the functions of the human body and other living systems. This makes sense. If you’re going to study medicine, you’ll need to understand the mechanical, physical, and biochemical functions of tissues, organs, and organ systems.

What is the Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior section?

  • 59 questions in 95 minutes (97 seconds per question)
  • 10 passages with sets of 4-6 questions
  • 44 passage-based questions
  • 15 stand‐alone, non-passage‐based, questions

This new section tests your ability to apply concepts in psychology, sociology, biology, research methods, and statistics that you’ll need in order to learn about the behavioral and sociocultural factors affecting health outcomes.

You will be tested on your knowledge of the ways in which psychological, social, and biological factors influence perceptions and reactions to the world; behavior and behavior change; what people think about themselves and others; cultural and social differences influencing well‐being; and the relationships between social stratification, access to resources, and health.

The passages in this section are also designed to test concepts in statistics and research methods, and most will be based on experiments and data. What biology there is in this section will be limited to areas most relevant to behavior and mental processes.

What is the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section?

  • 53 questions in 90 minutes (101 seconds per question)
  • 9 passages
  • 53 passage-based questions
  • No stand‐alone, non-passage‐based, questions

This section asks you to critically analyze information from a wide range of social sciences and humanities. No specific knowledge is required; all the information you will need appears in the passages provided. Areas from which content is drawn include ethics and philosophy, cultural studies, and population health.

The section replaces the current Verbal Reasoning section. Other than getting longer and dropping passages based on the natural sciences or technology, it is essentially the same section.

Register

Our 2016 MCAT Prep Course runs:
May 24 to July 31, 2016

The best value of all MCAT prep courses
$2195
(Includes all course materials)

“I took the course because it kept me focused on what was important”

- Rachel D.

Compare our MCAT Prep Course:

Course
Focus
Hours of classroom instruction
Classroom hours on new CARS section
Classroom hours on new Behavioral Sciences section
Practice passages covered in classroom
Flexible Schedule* (choice of weeknight or weekend classes)
Unlimited Free Repeat Policy
Instructors
Hired by students at competitive auditions
Specialists teach each subject
Biographies and evaluations on website
Value
Price
Price per hour of classroom instruction
prep + review
146
32
28
278
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
$2195
$14
Kaplan
mostly self-study
36
9
9
?
No
No
No
No
No
$1636
$45
Princeton Review
review
123
21
18
35
No
No
No
Yes
No
$2199
$18