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MCAT Syllabus & Exam Pattern For 2024 Admissions

Updated on 05 July, 2024

Kanika Pruthi

Kanika Pruthi

Sr. Content Writer & Study Abroad Expert

Do you dream of studying medicine in the USA? You must then not lose any time to start preparing for the MCAT, or the Medical College Admission Test, which is a compulsory exam for admission to medical schools in the United States and Canada. 

Knowing the MCAT syllabus and exam pattern will help you familiarize with the test topics and you can build a better preparation strategy.

Did you know, according to the official website, more than 214,029 examinees took the MCAT exam between 2020 and 2022. 

And the mean MCAT score was 501.3 for this period, while the highest achievable score is 528. This clearly illustrates the high competition of the exam and the need to prepare for it well if you want to study medicine in the USA.

Read on to understand the MCAT exam pattern and syllabus for 2024 admissions.

Know More About : MCAT Exam | MCAT Eligibility |

MCAT exam syllabus is divided into four sections. 

1.       Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems

2.       Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems

3.       Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behaviour

4.       Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

The MCAT exam syllabus is divided into four sections. 

  1. Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems

  2. Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems

  3. Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behaviour

  4. Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills     

MCAT Exam Format

The MCAT exam is divided into four different sections and is individually evaluated. Each section has a specific set of topics and subtopics that aspirants must master to achieve their best scores. Each section has 53-59 questions, and the total time allotted to each section is between 90-95 minutes. The maximum score can vary from 472-528.

MCAT is conducted for a total of 7.5 hours, of which 6 hours and 15 minutes are for the actual exams, and the rest is devoted to breaks and other things. The exam time is from 8 AM to 3.30 PM. The exam day schedule is as follows:

Sections

 

Number of Questions

Total Time (in minutes)

Test-Day Certification

-

4

Tutorial (optional)

10

Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems

59

95

Break (optional)

10

Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

53

90

Mid-Exam Break (optional)

-

30

Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems

59

95

Break (optional)

-

10

Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behaviour

59

95

Void Question

-

3

Satisfaction Survey

-

5

A thorough understanding of the MCAT exam syllabus is crucial to develop a comprehensive study plan and prepare effectively for the exam to secure your admission in a medical school.

Detailed Section-Wise Syllabus:

The MCAT exam is designed to assess students' understanding of foundational concepts in science and their ability to integrate knowledge from different disciplines, emphasizing deep knowledge of important scientific concepts. Overall, the MCAT exam is intended to measure the skills and knowledge needed for success in the field of medicine.

The exam is divided into four sections, of which the first three test students' scientific inquiry and reasoning skills, including their knowledge of scientific concepts and principles, scientific reasoning and problem-solving, reasoning about the design and execution of research, and data-based and statistical reasoning. The fourth section, Critical Analysis, and Reasoning Skills test students' ability to comprehend and analyze passages from a range of disciplines in the social sciences and humanities, with a focus on skills necessary for success in medical school.

Let us look at the in-depth MCAT syllabus for each of the four sections.

1. Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems-

  • Structure and function of proteins and their constituent amino acids. 
  • Transmission of genetic information from the gene to the protein. 
  • Transmission of heritable information from generation to generation and the processes that sustain it.
  • Principles of bioenergetics and fuel molecule metabolism. 
  • Assemblies of molecules, cells, and groups of cells within single cellular and multicellular organisms. 
  • The structure, growth, physiology, and genetics of prokaryotes and viruses. 
  • Processes of cell division, differentiation, and specialization. 
  • Structure and functions of the nervous and endocrine systems and ways these systems coordinate the organ systems. 
  • Structure and integrative functions of the main organ systems.

2. Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems

  • Translational motion, forces, work, energy, and equilibrium in living systems. 
  • Importance of fluids for the circulation of blood, gas movement, and gas exchange. 
  • Electrochemistry and electrical circuits and their elements. 
  • How light and sound interact with matter.
  • Atoms, nuclear decay, electronic structure, and atomic chemical behavior. 
  • Unique nature of water and its solutions. 
  • Nature of molecules and intermolecular interactions. 
  • Separation and purification methods. 
  • Structure, function, and reactivity of biologically relevant molecules. 
  • Principles of chemical thermodynamics and kinetics. 

3. Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behaviour

  • Sensing the environment 
  • Making sense of the environment 
  • Responding to the world 
  • Individual influences on behavior 
  • Social processes that influence human behavior
  • Attitude and behavior change 
  • Self-identity 
  • Social thinking 
  • Social interactions 
  • Understanding social structure 
  • Demographic characteristics and processes 
  • Social inequality 

4. Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

  • Humanities
  • Social Sciences

Section

Assessment

Composition of questions (%)*

 Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems Evaluates your ability to use scientific inquiry and reasoning skills along with your knowledge of biological and biochemical concepts to solve problems.
  • First-semester biochemistry, 25%
  • Introductory biology, 65%
  • General chemistry, 5%
  • Organic chemistry, 5%
Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems Evaluates your problem-solving abilities by testing your capacity to combine your scientific inquiry and reasoning skills with your knowledge of chemical and physical foundational concepts.
  • Introductory psychology, 65% 
  • Introductory sociology, 30%
  • Introductory biology, 5%
Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behaviour Tests your problem-solving skills by evaluating your ability to combine your scientific inquiry and reasoning skills with your knowledge of foundational concepts.
  • First-semester biochemistry, 25%
  • Introductory biology, 5%
  • General chemistry, 30%
  • Organic chemistry, 15%
  • Introductory physics, 25%
Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills Assess your reading comprehension skills through passages and questions.
  • Foundations of Comprehension, 30%
  • Reasoning Within the Text, 30%
  • Reasoning Beyond the Text, 40%

*These are only estimated percentages of questions from each subject, fundamental idea, and reasoning skill that you'll see on an exam.

Overall, the MCAT exam is intended to measure the skills and knowledge needed for success in the field of medicine.

MCAT Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for the MCAT exam, you must meet the following criteria:

Intention to Apply: You must plan to apply to a health professions school, which includes:

  • MD-granting programs
  • DO-granting programs
  • Podiatric (DPM) programs
  • Veterinary medicine (DVM) programs
  • Any other health-related program that accepts MCAT scores for admissions.

Registration Agreement: Upon registration, you must agree to a statement verifying your intention to apply to a health professions school.

International Students: There are no additional eligibility requirements for international examinees. If you hold an MBBS degree or equivalent, you can register without special permission.

Special Permission: If you do not plan to apply to a health professions school or are not enrolled in an MBBS degree program, you must obtain "special permission" to register for the MCAT exam.

Books for MCAT 2024 Preparation

The AAMC MCAT Official Prep Complete Bundle is an excellent resource for comprehensive MCAT preparation. This bundle includes:

  • The Official Guide to the MCAT Exam, Fifth Edition: A printed book that provides a detailed overview of the test and what to expect on test day.
  • Online Resources: Access to all 15 of the current MCAT preparation online products, including practice exams and question packs.
  • Practice Exams: Four full-length practice exams that mirror the actual MCAT exam in both length and functionality.
  • Question Packs: Over 2,300 unique passage-based and independent questions across various subjects.

You can also avail a significant discount over ordering each product separately and get unlimited access to these resources for 365 days from the date of purchase. It can be a valuable investment if you are serious about your MCAT preparation.

MCAT Preparation Tips

Preparing for the MCAT exam is a significant journey that requires a strategic approach. Here are some expert tips you can apply to ace your preparation:

  1. Understand the MCAT Syllabus: The foremost important thing is to understand the MCAT section-wise syllabus thoroughly. This will help you become familiar with the topics you need to cover during your preparation.
  2. Create a Study Plan: Tailor your study schedule to fit your personal learning style and daily routine. Regularly adjust your plan based on your progress and the time you can dedicate daily.
  3. Evaluate Your Progress: Establish a baseline with a full-length practice exam and periodically assess your performance with additional practice tests. Use this data to track your improvement and identify areas that need more attention.
  4. Find an Accountability Partner: Connect with peers who are also preparing for the MCAT. Sharing resources, studying together, and providing mutual support can make the preparation process less isolating and more effective.
  5. Utilize Official AAMC Resources: Take advantage of the free planning and study resources offered by the AAMC. These include practice exams, sample questions, and video collections that can enhance your understanding of the exam content.

Remember, consistent efforts and a well-organized study plan are the keys to success in the MCAT. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, the MCAT syllabus and exam pattern for 2024 admissions remain a critical component for aspiring medical students. This comprehensive and challenging exam assesses knowledge and skills across a range of subjects essential for success in medical school, including biological sciences, physical sciences, psychology, and critical analysis.

The structure of the MCAT is to test not only scientific understanding but also critical thinking and problem-solving abilities and reflects the multifaceted nature of medical education and practice. For 2024 MCAT aspirants understanding the exam pattern and thorough preparation in accordance with the detailed syllabus are imperative for achieving a competitive score. Excelling in the MCAT paves the way for entry into prestigious medical programs, marking the first step toward a rewarding medical career.

FAQs

Is the MCAT syllabus for Indian students any different?

The MCAT syllabus is the same for all students, whether you are in the USA or abroad. It is important to note that the MCAT exam is not conducted in India, so any interested applicant will have to travel abroad to appear for the same.

Is the MCAT exam eligibility different for international students?

No, as long as you hold a relevant MBBS Degree, you’re eligible to appear for the MCAT exam.

Is the MCAT registration fee the same for Indian students?

Yes, the registration fee is similar for all the applicants, which is USD 335, or approximately INR 28,000. If you take the exam outside of the US, Canada, or US territories you will have to pay an extra $120, i,e., INR 10,000 as the international fee on top of the application fee.

Kanika Pruthi

Sr. Content Writer & Study Abroad Expert

Kanika has 5+ years of experience as a writer and content developer. She has written for a wide range of industry verticals, including hospitality, restaurants, non-profits, finance, IT, HR, technology, payroll, and education. She has worked as a creator for a few leading companies and has also helped brands grow through her creative writing.

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Disclaimer

The above tips are the Author's experiences. upGrad does not guarantee scores or admissions.