The Princeton Review MCAT Prep Course, Practice Test, & Book Review

Acceptance into an esteemed medical school is a great achievement. According to the American Medical Association, 53,042 prospective students applied into medical schools across the US in the 2016 – 2017 admissions cycle. Of those 53,042 applicants, only 21,030 (a mere 40%) were matriculated into medical schools across the United States.

As you can imagine, getting into medical school is very competitive, and it appears that the competition is steadily increasing as the number of hopefuls grow each year. Don’t let these statistics scare you, however. The key to successfully applying for medical school is careful planning and preparation. The great news is you don’t have to do it all alone. With a little help, you can achieve your best possible score on the MCAT exam. See what all of the buzz is about with Princeton Review’s MCAT prep course, practice tests, and excellently written books.

About Princeton Review

Princeton review has been helping students succeed on standardized testing since 1981. Dreams turn into realities when student’s receive a high score and are accepted into the program of their choice. From test prep to private tutoring, you, too, can take advantage of the benefits of Princeton Review.

The statistics are in, showing that:

  • 96% of students improved their grades overall with Princeton Review.
  • 1.6+ million students were helped throughout the course of 2017 with Princeton Review.
  • 35+ million books have been printed and sold from Princeton Review.
  • 4 out of 5 students were accepted into their top school of choice with the help of Princeton Review.
  • 5,000 tutoring sessions were held every school night with Princeton Review.

Princeton review tutorHow does Princeton Review accomplish all of this? It starts right at home with their expert instructors. Princeton review employs some of the best teachers, biologists, chemists, and physicists – who are experts in their respective fields. Not only are these instructors great at what they do, but they also know what it takes to get accepted into competitive programs, as they have attended some of the most prestigious schools in the United States. As if that isn’t enough, they constantly keep their minds conditioned by taking entrance exams over and over again, that way they know exactly what material to teach and how to present it in such a way that you will achieve your best results.

Princeton Review parallels their unmatched instruction with exemplary written content. The text dynamically coincides with the questions on the exam, so that you are well prepared for whatever difficult question that they may throw your way. Princeton Review also offers convenient tips on how to strategically take the test, giving you what no other program can give you–the Princeton Review edge.

Technology is constantly changing, and Princeton Review offers nothing but cutting-edge technology to its students. You can access Princeton Review’s unique online tools through many different platforms, making it convenient and accessible for you to study at any time. Whether you’re on your tablet, smart phone, or laptop, you can take advantage of the most effective tools on the market, including adaptive practice tests and drills, which will help you maximize your focus and preparation on the MCAT.

Princeton Review understands that not every student is alike. While one program may work for one student, that doesn’t mean it is going to be the best route for another. This is why Princeton Review is not a one-size-fits-all program. You can personalize your own program to best meet your needs. That means you can work one-on-one with a tutor, or you may choose to do the online course on your own. Whatever your preference and learning level, Princeton Review has something available for you.

Customer service is extremely important when you are relying on an online program. Princeton Review’s employees are available and ready to help and answer any questions you may have. Unlike other programs, Princeton Review’s customer service representatives are available via phone late into the night until 10 pm ET. If you have uncertainties on what route to take, a Princeton Review advisor can help direct you to decide your best course of action. After all, Princeton Review is there to help you succeed.

The Princeton Review MCAT

Prep Course Subsections

Princeton Review makes it easy to find a prep course that works for you. In fact, they offer quite a few different programs to choose from, which include the following:

  • Self-Paced – study anywhere on your own time
  • Live Online – learn from expert instructors in an online classroom environment
  • In Person – attend classes in-person at a campus near you
  • Private Tutoring – receive specialized instruction from a tutor
  • Small Group Tutoring – learn in a small group setting
  • Winter Bootcamp – take full advantage of your college break by delving into an intensive MCAT study
  • CARS Accelerator – jump start yours comprehension and analytics skills with this fast-paced program
  • Comprehensive Admission Counseling Program- get top-notch advice and guidance when it comes to medical school applications, registrations, interviews and more

The best part about Princeton Review is that no matter what prep course you choose, they all guarantee results.

Learn More Learn MoreLearn MoreLearn MoreLearn More
For students looking for…Interactive group sessions led by experts covering challenging MCAT topics.
Flexible self-paced study for the MCATClassroom time that focuses on MCAT strategies
Comprehensive classroom instruction for MCAT content and strategies
A personalized 1:1 prep plan with a private tutor
Hours of InstructionN/AN/A44123Custom
Course Length
180 days
Flexible22 Classes41 ClassesCustom
BooksN/A10111111* (Included with 60 hour package)
Number of Practice TestsN/A15151515* (Included with 60 hour package)
All Released AAMC Materials
NoYesYesYesYes* (Included with 60 hour package)
60+ Small Group Tutoring Sessions
YesNoNoYes online onlyNo
500+ Medflix Videos
NoYesYesYesYes* (Included with 60 hour package)
Course SettingOnlineOnlineOnlineIn Person or OnlineIn person or Online
Price$1,199$1,399$1,999$2,499Starts at $2,000

Princeton Review in Comparison with the Kaplan

Preparing for an exam such as the MCAT takes dedication, determination and the right study tools and prep. Princeton Review equips you with everything you need to prepare for one of the most important exams of your pre-med career. The MCAT is the first big hurtle you have to jump over your start in the medical field.

How does Princeton Review compare to the competition?

Princeton Review MCAT Ultimate

Princeton Review VS Kaplan

  • A Total of 123 Live Instruction Hours
    • Focuses on Full Content and Test-Taking Strategies
    • Offers 21 Hours of Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills Preparation
    • Offers 33 Hours of Biochemistry and Biology Preparation
  • 4-6 Expert Instructors Specializing in each Subject Matter
    • Certified Princeton Review Instructors teach each subject
  • Interactive Dashboard for Student’s Benefit
    • Offers 3,000+ questions that are free-based or passage-related questions
  • 14 Complete Practice Tests
    • Includes all AAMC Certified Practice Exams
  • Smart Practice Technology
  • Offers an Exclusive and Convenient Online Study Tool
  • Utilizes Nobel-Prize Winning Research
  • MedFlix – Exclusive to Princeton Review
  • Amazing Resource for MCAT Content Review
  • Pick and Choose the Content That You Want to Review
  • Library of 500+ On-Demand MCAT Videos at the Click of a Button

Kaplan MCAT Prep

  • A Total of 36 Live Instruction Hours
  • Focuses on Test-Taking Strategies
  • Offers 9 Hours of Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills Preparation
  • Offers 9 Hours of Biochemistry and Biology Preparation
  • 1 General Instructor
  • Only one instructor that teaches all live sessions
  • MCAT QBank
  • Offers 1,000+ questions quizzes
  • 14 Complete Practice Tests
  • Includes all AAMC Certified Practice Exams
  • MCAT Channel
  • Archived MCAT Videos available 24/7

While Kaplan is an esteemed program, Princeton Review far exceeds what the Kaplan MCAT Prep program offers in many areas. Princeton Review is the better choice, whether you are looking for live online courses, or something more self-paced.

Princeton Review Practice Tools

Princeton Review offers 4 online tools that help you put what you’ve learned to practice: MedFlix, Diagnostic Exams, Practice Tests and Detailed Reports, and drills.


MedFlix has a vault of over 500 on-demand videos that are conveniently short and to the point. You can easily select and review the topics you need, while skipping those that you already have a handle on. Research shows that videos help in improving the overall learning experience by inviting students to think and analyze what they’ve learned. The best part about MedFlix is that you can watch any video anytime, anywhere, and for as long as you want. So, plop in a chair, get signed in, and start watching today!

Diagnostic Exams

Princeton Review’s diagnostic exams are designed to help you learn as you go. These effective exams directly coincide with the content that you’ve learned and provide an overall comprehensive review of each section. Because these tests are diagnostic in nature, you will get detailed reports of where you need extra attention, and you can also use it as a tool to measure your improvement.

Practice Tests and Detailed Reports

Simply stated, the MCAT is an overwhelming exam. You may have a good handle on the content that you’ve poured over for the last few months, but the questions will require that you take what you’ve learned and apply logic to real world scenarios, case studies and experiments, all while being under the timer. Having the opportunity to take a practice test before taking the real deal can be a huge benefit to you.

Taking a 7.5 hour test sounds daunting, and it really is. So, don’t let these other companies fool you with their half-length diagnostic tests. It’s impossible to get a feel for the real deal if you don’t get the full experience. Princeton Review offers three, full-length practice tests that are based on AAMC content, meaning you are getting first-hand experience of what will be on the MCAT, including the style, passages, questions, and duration.

After you take the test, you will not only receive a grade, but you will also get a detailed explanation of the answers to each and every question. Think of taking Princeton Review’s practice tests as an exercise to show how well prepared you are to take this exam. How well you do on the practice exam will show how well you have prepared yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally to take the MCAT.

mcat practice test score


As if MedFlix, diagnostic exams and practice tests weren’t enough, Princeton Review also provides you with a magnitude of drills to really hit it home. Princeton Review’s program covers a lot of content, and one of the best ways to reinforce the information is to practice. Princeton Review’s drills are accompanied by extremely detailed explanations that will help you lock in what you’ve learned and learn from your mistakes.

Small Group Tutoring

When you enroll in Princeton Review’s ultimate live online course, you will gain complimentary access to small group tutoring sessions. These small group tutoring sessions are led by experts, reviewed by peers, and will obtain fast results.

In your small group tutoring sessions, the MCAT masters will guide you through content and strategy. Each week, you can benefit from 12+ outside study sessions, focusing on topic weaknesses and answering any questions that you may have. By identifying your areas of need, you can attend tutoring sessions based on your specific areas of weakness. Princeton Review’s tutoring sessions give you the flexibility to get additional support in the areas where you need it the most.

Customized tutoring sessions are also available. The 1-hour, subject–specific (i.e. biology, chemistry, physics, etc.) sessions are focused on clearing up any unclear areas that may be hindering your study. There are also 1.5-hour, topic-specific (i.e. genetics, nomenclature, physiology, etc.) sessions that include guided practice and in-depth explanations.

You can track your progress with Princeton Review’s detailed score reports as you move through your courses and tutoring sessions. See where you were when you began and marvel at how far you’ve come. Between the thousands of online freestanding and passage-based questions with detailed explanations and the 15, full-length online AAMC-approved practice tests, you will be well on your way to improving your MCAT score.

Self-Paced Program

When we said that Princeton Review was flexible, we meant it. They offer many different ways to utilize their courses. For those who’d rather take the course at their own pace, Princeton Review offers a self-led MCAT study program.


All of Princeton Review’s programs focus exclusively on the application of strategies to tackle every type of question on the MCAT exam. Princeton Review offers 44 hours of live strategy-specific instruction taught by 4-6 teachers who are fluent in both MCAT topics and tactics. The online review videos (MedFlix) are 500+ expertly crafted videos that are available 24/7, giving you access to all the MCAT content you will ever need. Not only are you getting expert instruction, but you can also put your new found knowledge to work with Princeton Review’s online practice tests. By drilling this information in your head, you are only setting yourself up for success.

Princeton Review MCAT Ultimate

The Ultimate is Princeton Review’s most popular course, and as you can probably guess, it is the most comprehensive in its offerings. There is no such thing as being overly prepared for the MCAT, especially since this is one of the biggest exams of your pre-med career. Equipped with super-skilled instruction and a major arsenal of freestanding and passage-based questions, Princeton Review will help empower you every step of the way.

Everything you could imagine and more is available in the ultimate course. One aspect that really sets this program a step above the rest is the comprehensive instruction in the classroom, totaling 123 hours. Of course, you will also have access to the MedFlix library of videos, small group tutoring sessions, 11 MCAT books, and the intensive practice tests and thousands of questions with detailed explanations.

Princeton Review MCAT Ultimate Course

Private Tutoring

If the small group tutoring is not your thing and you are looking for something a little more one-on-one, then you may want to look into Princeton Review’s Full-Service Private Tutoring sessions. Not only do you get to benefit from one-on-one tutoring, but the private tutoring option also comes with Princeton Review’s exclusive online instruction tools.

Just like the small group tutoring session, private tutoring is also flexible. You can choose from online private tutoring, or you can even benefit from face-to-face tutoring in your very own area!

All of Princeton Review’s tutors are carefully selected in order to give you the best instruction and advice. There are three different levels of tutoring experts to select from:

  • Private Tutors – are dynamic and engaging teachers with intensive training and experience as classroom instructors.
  • Master Tutors – are experienced educators who have over 500 hours of relevant tutoring experience under their belts.
  • Premier Tutors – are the top tier of Princeton Review’s tutors. They have an exceptional 1,000+ hours of time put into tutoring.

Once you choose the level of tutor that you want, our advisors will then match you to the tutor that is best suited for your personal needs. An advisor is just a phone call away!

Winter Bootcamps

The words “winter” and “boot camp” don’t really sound all that exciting, but Princeton Review’s Winter Bootcamps are something to get excited about. Their boot camp programs will help you maximize your efforts in just a short amount of time. Princeton Review’s Winter Bootcamp runs 4-6 weeks, but in that short amount of time Princeton Review can help you yield your highest possible score on the MCAT.

There are two different types of winter boot camps: Strategy Winter Bootcamp and Ultimate Winter Bootcamp.

Strategy Winter Bootcamp

During the Strategy Winter Bootcamp, you will receive detailed instruction on the best strategies to help you take on and conquer the MCAT exam. You will find out the best ways on how to tackle the content, get tips to interpret data, and receive pointers on how to save time to work as effectively and efficiently as possible. You and your instructors will work through difficult sample questions together, but you will also have time to delve into the content review on your own time. Princeton Review’s online tools will help aid you in the areas you need the most work.

Princeton’s Strategy Winter Bootcamp offers you a total of 625+ hours of total instruction, 44 hours of which are live instruction, which include the following:

  • Organic Chemistry – 6 hours
  • Physics – 6 hours
  • General Chemistry – 6 hours
  • Biology – 10 hours
  • CARS – 8 hours
  • Psychology/Sociology

Ultimate Winter Bootcamp

Throughout the Ultimate Winter Bootcamp, you will receive detailed instruction on the best strategies to help you take on and conquer the MCAT exam. You will get all of this plus an additional 79 hours to allow for comprehensive review based on the content in each section, which include the following:

  • Structural Features and Isomerism
  • Kinematics and Mechanics
  • Periodic Trends and Bonding
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Microbiology
  • Six Steps for Attacking Cars
  • Social Theories
  • Culture
  • Inequality

With the Ultimate Winter Boot camp, you will get a whopping 625+ hours of total instruction, which includes the 123 hours of live instruction, covering:

  • Organic Chemistry – 12 hours
  • Physics – 18 hours
  • General Chemistry – 18 hours
  • Biology – 33 hours
  • CARS – 21 hours
  • Psychology/Sociology – 21 hours

Summer Immersion

Each summer, Princeton Review takes the best from its programs and brings it into the classrooms of college campuses across the United States. Each Summer Immersion program is a 6-week course that has 370 hours of live in-class instruction and coaching, led by an esteemed team of Princeton Review experts. You will also have access to all of the practice tools and practice tests that you would with the live online program. Talk to an immersion specialist today to find out if Princeton Review is holding a Summer Immersion Course at a campus near you. Room and board may also be available at some locations for an additional charge.

Free MCAT Practice Test

Do you ever wonder what you would score on the MCAT exam if you were to take it right now? Well, now you can get an idea of where you’re at with Princeton Review’s free MCAT practice test. The practice test mimics the real exam in every way possible. It’s a full-length (7.5 hours) exam that simulates questions similar to what would be on the actual exam. Try out this amazing free tool today!

MCAT Prep Free Trial

Are you still not sure about utilizing Princeton Review as a major study method for the MCAT? If you’re still not convinced about Princeton Review, why not try it out for free? That’s right. You can sample everything that Princeton Review has to offer with a MCAT prep free trial. This means you can hear the lectures, access the tools, and take the practice tests before deciding whether you want to fully take advantage of Princeton Review.

free trial

Princeton Review Book Set

Princeton Review offers a 7-book package of study materials that will help you maximize your efforts on the MCAT exam. These books have the latest up-to-date content to make sure that the topics covered best reflect the kind of materials that you will see on the actual exam.

Before you dive in head first, you will learn all of the relevant practical details that you need to know about taking the MCAT. You will learn everything from how the exam is scored to the details about security measures taken at the test centers.

Princeton Review incorporates visual aids in its books so you can see first-hand through images how a concept is explained. It is also proven that visual aids help in studying.

These books contain in-depth information that will help you expand your general base of knowledge. In addition to excellent content, Princeton Review provides 3 practice tests that will prove to be a major asset to your studies. At the end of each chapter, there are questions that help you review and solidify in your mind what you just learned.

This second edition set of Princeton Review books includes:

  • 7 books that cover every section of the MCAT, including: biology, biochemistry, organic chemistry, general chemistry, physics and math, psychology and sociology, and critical analysis and reasoning skills
  • 3 online, full-length practice tests that will help you measure your progress
  • In-depth review that covers all test subject areas
  • Review questions that are at the end of each chapter
  • Full-color illustrations, diagrams and tables that help you focus and comprehend the materials easier
  • Summaries at the end of each chapter that help aid in review
  • Strategic techniques that will help you best know how to take the MCAT efficiently and effectively
  • Extensive glossaries that are designed for your quick reference and review
  • Online student tools that you can access in order to help you further prepare for the exam

The complete 7- book set includes the following titles:

  • MCAT Biology Review
  • MCAT Biochemistry Review
  • MCAT General Chemistry Review
  • MCAT Organic Chemistry Review
  • MCAT Physics and Math Review
  • MCAT Psychology and Sociology Review
  • MCAT Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills Review

About the MCAT Exam

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) was developed and is administered to prospective students by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), and is a requirement for getting into med schools. This test has been a part of the medical association for over 90 years and is the standard in both the US and Canada.

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is no easy feat. It’s a 7.5 hour test that requires an insane amount of preparation. Not only does the MCAT test your knowledge, but it also tests your critical thinking and problem solving skills.

The exam can be taken up to 3 times in one year, four times in a two-year span, with a total maximum of 7 times in your lifetime. However, it is best to set the bar high and get a good score on the MCAT the first time around, because it’s not guaranteed that medical schools will only look at the most current grade. They may look at previous grades as well. Long story short, the MCAT is a pretty big deal, especially if you want to get into a prestigious medical school.

Before you take the MCAT, it is likely you will have taken a variety of premedical course requirements. Many students focus heavily on biology and chemistry type courses. These courses will help prepare you for some of the content that you might see on the MCAT. The MCAT consists of 4 sections:

  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

Each of these sections contains multiple-choice questions, ranging from 53-59 questions per section. You will have ample time to answer, but must not spend too much time on any one problem in order to keep from getting behind.

If you haven’t studied the specific content that will be on the MCAT, then you are in for a real shock. Some topics are tougher than others, but that’s where Princeton Review comes in. Princeton Review’s dynamic program can help you study the right areas and get used to the kinds of questions and the formats that will be on the test.

Why is the MCAT Exam Important?

The MCAT is designed to provide insight on each prospective student’s knowledge and preparedness for med school. Because med schools can only accept so many students, it is important to score well the first time around. Admissions officers look at a combination of areas to help them determine our likelihood to build a successful medical career, including your MCAT score, your overall academic record, as well as other supporting factors.

What General Areas of Study Does the MCAT Exam Cover?

The MCAT tests areas such as physical and biological sciences, verbal reasoning, as well as writing skills. In 2015, the AAMC added a new section called Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior in an attempt to test your ability to understand how sociocultural and biological factors influence behavior and social interactions.

How is the MCAT Exam Scored?

The most important part of the MCAT exam is your final score. After all, your score could make or break whether you are accepted into some of the top medical schools.

Your target MCAT score should be at or above the average score for matriculants at your school of choice. According to the AAMC, the average MCAT score for applicants that were accepted into a MD program in 2017 – 2018 was between 510 and 511, with an average GPA of 3.71.

Each section of the MCAT exam is scored separately, ranging from 118 – 132 points. In addition to individual scoring, you will also receive a final, overall score, ranging from 472-528. The highest possible overall score that you could receive is a 528. However, the AAMC recommends that admissions officers focus more on those who scored closer to the mean (500) rather than put emphasis on those who scored exceptionally high.

If you have a low GPA, it is extremely important to get a high score on the MCAT. If you’re overall GPA is strong, then you might be able to get away with a lower score. Although the MCAT score pulls heavy weight on whether you will be matriculated into a program, med schools like to look at the entire package. Here are a few areas that admissions officers look at:

  • your overall GPA
  • your MCAT Score
  • your undergraduate coursework
  • your letters of recommendation
  • your experience in relation to the medical field
  • your experience not related to the medical field
  • your volunteer work
  • your research
  • your extracurricular activities
  • your personal statement

Princeton Review’s online Med School Search can help you research top-notch medical schools. You can find out all the information that you’ve ever want to know about prospective medical schools, from acceptance rates to average MCAT scores.

For more than 35 years, students and families have trusted The Princeton Review to help them get into their dream schools. Princeton Review helps pre-med students succeed by giving them resources for better grades, better test scores, and stronger med school applications.

How Much Does Everything Cost?

It’s not cheap to take the MCAT exam, which is another reason why you should be prepared to get a good grade on the exam the first time. The registration fee is $315 which covers all the basics of taking the test, as well as receiving your scores. If you happen to register late or make changes to your registration, you will incur additional fees.

The cost of the exam is in addition to what the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) charges to apply to medical schools. The AMCAS charges a $160 fee for the first medical school applied for and a $39 fee for each additional school applied to thereafter. Most people apply to around 17 schools, so it can get expensive. It is important to apply to as many schools as possible to maximize your efforts. You should plan on spending about $2,800 on application fees alone, and that doesn’t include all the additional fees that each program may tack on.

The American Medical College Application Service’s Fee Assistance Program

The AMCAS also offers a fee assistance program to help those that are unable to afford the cost of applying to medical schools. This program is reserved for those who need it the most, so not everyone will be able to take advantage of its benefits. Here are some of the eligibility requirements to determine if you may be considered for this program:

  • You must be a US citizen, a US National, a green card holder, granted refugee/asylum, or have DACA status that is recognized by the US Government.
  • You must fall under the US Department of Health and Human Services’ poverty level guidelines.
  • Parental financial and tax information is required and must fall under the poverty guidelines as well.

If you are approved to take part in the AMCAS Fee Assistance Program, you will receive the following benefits:

  • Access to the Medical School Admission Requirements(MSAR) website
  • Discounted MCAT registration fees and practice materials
  • Assistance on the cost to obtain an updated psycho-educational or medical re-evaluation if needed to support an MCAT accommodations application
  • Discounted AMCAS application fees

You should know that once you receive your benefits, they will expire on December 31 of the calendar year after you receive the benefits. Benefits are not retroactive, nor can they be rolled over to the next calendar year. Financial assistance may only be awarded a maximum of 5 times per individual. These stipulations are in place so that others can benefit from the program.

MCAT Sections

In medical school, you will find that the subjects you take will overlap in areas of concentration. The MCAT exam is set up just the same, meaning that the sections are integrated and will not be tested independently.

The MCAT exam is broken down into the following four sections:

  1. Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  2. Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
  3. Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  4. Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior

Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems

The Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems section will require you to utilize your basic knowledge of both the chemical and physical sciences, while combining these concepts with your knowledge of biological science. All of these important concepts make up the foundation of the human body and are essential in understanding general principles to living systems. A significant amount of biochemistry also appears in this section of the MCAT.

The following is a breakdown of the undergraduate courses that are reflected in this portion of the MCAT:

  • Introductory General Chemistry (30%)
  • Introductory Physics (25%)
  • Introductory Organic Chemistry (15%)
  • First-semester Biochemistry (25%)
  • Introductory Biology (5%)

You should know that a periodic table is available for your use during the MCAT, but unfortunately all calculations must be figured without a calculator.

The Chem/Phys section of the test contains 59 questions, 15 of which are standalone, non-passage related questions. The remaining questions come directly from passages that are offered on the exam, but they also require outside knowledge and information from your prep and study.

Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS)

The Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section is quite a mouth foul, so most people just call it CARS for short. This section is completely different than the other three sections as it doesn’t test on any previous knowledge. All the information that you will need to answer the questions in this section is included in the passage. The CARS section tests your ability to analyze arguments and find the underlying assumptions and conclusions. This section has 53 questions, and you are given 90 minutes to answer.

Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems

The Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems section will require that you have a basic understanding of life, which includes reproduction, growth and acquiring energy. You also should have knowledge of how cells and organ systems work together and how they work independently of each other to accomplish these processes. The Bio/Biochem section tests more than just the biological sciences. It also includes some organic and general chemistry as these provide a background to biochemistry.

The following is a breakdown of the undergraduate courses that are reflected in this portion of the MCAT:

  • Introductory Biology (65%)
  • Introductory General Chemistry (5%)
  • Introductory Organic Chemistry (5%)
  • First-semester Biochemistry (25%)

Other biology classes that may prove to be helpful are: Cell Biology, Genetics, Anatomy and Physiology, and Microbiology.

The Bio/Biochem section of the MCAT has a total of 59 questions, 15 of which are standalone, non-passage-related questions. The remaining questions come directly from passages that are offered on the exam, but they also require outside knowledge and information from your prep and study.

Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior

The Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior section on the MCAT was newly added in 2015 due to its increased importance in medical education. This portion of the test covers topics in Psychology and Sociology in their relation to the biological sciences.

Although most medical schools do not require these subjects as a prerequisite, it is recommended that students take a semester of introductory courses to these subjects.

The Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior section of the MCAT has a total of 59 questions, 15 of which are standalone, non-passage-related questions. The remaining questions come directly from passages that are offered on the exam, but they also require outside knowledge and information from your prep and study.

Registering for the MCAT

The MCAT exam is available to take multiple times throughout the year. To register, you must go online and sign up through the MCAT registration on the AMCA website. The AMCA website has more information on registering and testing times.

You will be prompted to fill out the following sections:

  • Personal Info
  • Biographic Info
  • Background
  • Consents
  • Use of Personal Info

After filling out the required your information, you will be able to select a testing center and a time that is convenient for you. Be sure that your name you register with matches your license. When you show up to the testing center to take the MCAT, your license must match exactly the name that you registered with, otherwise you will not be able to take the exam.

You don’t want to be late to this exam. If you do show up late, you will not be admitted into the testing room, nor will you be able to take the exam. It is best to show up a good 30-60 minutes prior to your test time to ensure that you are ready to go and to shake off any last minute jitters.

How to Prepare

The MCAT is certainly not the kind of test you could study for overnight and score an “A” on it. If you want to do well on the MCAT, you should be prepared to devote at least 2-4 months to studying and preparing yourself. Some experts recommend as many as 8 months of preparation with at least 3 practice tests taken. This test is one of the biggest factors that determine whether you will get accepted into medical school, so studying for it should not be taken lightly.

Med School Admissions Timeline

If med school is in your future, it is important to set up a detailed timeline for yourself and follow it. Applying for medical school is a long-term process, and you want to make sure all of your “i’s” are dotted and your “t’s” are crossed. Ideally, your timeline will start during your first year of college. The AMAC provides a helpful guide on their website to help you understand when exactly you should do what. Not everybody follows the traditional timeline, but the AMAC guide is a great start.

When crafting your timeline, make sure you allow room for flexibility to accommodate unforeseen scheduling, deadlines, and extracurricular activities.

Stand out with your application

While a good MCAT score and a high GPA pull major weight when it comes to admissions, it is important to understand that only a limited amount of people are accepted into medical school programs. An exceptional application could be just the advantage you need to get into the medical school of your dreams.

As you fill out your applications and write your essays, think about areas that would stand out to a committee of medical professionals. Do you have prior work experience, extracurricular activities, research, honors, publications, or even awards that may boost your standings among other applicants?

Here are a few tips to help your application stand out from the rest of the crowd.

Show off your Clinical Experience

Most people who apply for medical school programs already have some sort of prior medical experience under their belt. Many traditional students find part-time jobs as EMTs or CNAs. Non-traditional students may even hold full time positions in the medical field. It doesn’t matter if your experience is paid or unpaid. Prior experience gives you the opportunity to speak more effectively about your medical future, and you will have first-hand knowledge what the practice of medicine is like before you even start medical school.

If you have the opportunity to take part in a preceptorship with a willing physician, do it! As you shadow the physician, you will see first-hand the normal day-to-day activities that a doctor would take part in. Medical schools favor diversity over quantity. This means that they would rather you get 150 hours in a variety of different healthcare environments, rather than 500 hours with an OBGYN.

Highlight your Academic Achievements

While academic research is not a requirement for most medical schools, it is looked very highly upon. Your involvement in research shows schools that you know what it takes to be involved in the research discoveries in med school. Ideally, you will want to have a year’s worth of research experience to really stand out. It is also important to know that medical research is essential if you are planning on pursuing a MD or PHD.

Medical schools also look highly upon studying abroad. Volunteer experiences, semesters abroad, and even missions trips are all experiences that should be on your application. Your experience abroad shows that you have an ability to understand other cultures, as well as shows your ability to take on new, challenging experiences that may be out of your comfort zone.

Teaching and tutoring are great achievements that can prove to be an asset on your application. This experience shows that you have the academic capability to communicate clearly and effectively with others. Medical schools look at this as an excellent trait to have in the medical field.

Demonstrate the Importance of your Extracurricular Activities

Yes, even your extracurricular activities can be of importance to your med school application. Your extracurricular activities shed light on who you are as a person, as well as showcase your leadership skills and your unique interests.

Medical schools look for people who have a strong aptitude in science, but they also want to recruit people that share different skills and interests. So, whether you have a minor in Spanish or played 4 years on the tennis team, be sure to include even the small things on your application if you think it may have some relevance to your success.

Because medical school is challenging and a long term commitment, you will want to show them that you can commit to something that rigorous and won’t crack under the pressure. Think of ways that you have demonstrated long-term commitment over the years and don’t be afraid to put it on your application, no matter how small you may think it is.

Not only is community service an important part of humanity, but it is also is something that medical schools find noteworthy. Community service could include anything from participating in a public health campaign to volunteering at your local boys and girls club. Military service is also considered a very important part of community service.

The medical field is full of leadership positions. Medical schools look for hopefuls with a strong sense of leadership. Past leadership roles such as being elected into student government or your role as a team captain can help you give admissions an idea of your future leadership potential.

Princeton Review can also help you with the application process. Their advisors can provide you with medical schools admissions counseling to help you with your medical school applications, including live interview preparation. After you write your draft, the advisor will review your essay and give you tips and feedback on any changes that you might need to make.