what you need to know about The MCAT Exam

The MCAT exam is, in many ways, a test like any other—and that knowing what’s on it is half the battle. That’s why we’re here. Read on for a detailed breakdown of the MCAT exam, including section-by-section breakdowns.

Scoring the MCAT

How Is the MCAT Scored?

Below you’ll find the approximate length of each of the MCAT exam’s four sections, plus the number of questions you’ll need to answer and the academic disciplines each section focuses on. Each MCAT section will be scored using a 118 to 132 range, with a median score of 125. You'll receive a score for each section, plus an overall score. Total scores will be centered at 500, with ranges from 472 to 528.  

MCAT Psychology Section Breakdown

Illustration of the Brain

According to the AAMC, future physicians will need to have a keen understanding of how sociocultural and behavioral factors impact a patient’s health. The Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior portion of the exam tests your understanding of how concepts in psychology, sociology, and biology apply to the sociocultural and behavioral aspects of human health. You will also need to demonstrate your ability to use research methods and statistics.

  • Number of MCAT questions: 59
  • Time: 95 minutes
  • Types of questions: Passage-based and discrete

Academic disciplines that may be drawn from:

  • Introductory psychology: 65%
  • Introductory sociology: 30%
  • Introductory biology: 5%

MCAT Critical Analysis and Reasoning Section Review

Puzzle Solving

The Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section will require no specific content knowledge. Here, you’ll be tasked with reading passages and answering questions to demonstrate critical thinking abilities. Complex, thought-provoking passages will be excerpted from books, journals, and magazines representing a wide range of disciplines in the social sciences and humanities, including concepts from cultural studies, population health, ethics, and philosophy. 

  • Number of MCAT questions: 53
  • Time: 90 minutes:
  • Types of questions: Passage-based

Academic disciplines that may be drawn from:

  • Humanities, 50% (may include art, dance, ethics, literature, music, philosophy, popular culture, religion, theater, studies of diverse cultures)
  • Social Sciences, 50% (may include anthropology, archaeology, economics, education, geography, history, linguistics, political science, population health, psychology, sociology, studies of diverse cultures)

MCAT Biological Sciences Breakdown

Anatomy Diagram

In the Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems section, the MCAT will assess your grasp of fundamental concepts that govern processes unique to living organisms; such processes include growing, reproducing, responding, metabolizing, and adapting. Here, you’ll be tasked with showing that you understand how cells and organ systems accomplish these processes—but more than that, you’ll need to be able to show you can reason about these processes, too.

  • Number of MCAT questions: 59
  • Time: 95 minutes
  • Types of questions: Passage-based and discrete

Academic disciplines that may be drawn from:

  • First-semester biochemistry, 25%
  • Introductory biology, 65%
  • General chemistry, 5%
  • Organic chemistry, 5%

MCAT Physical Sciences Format


The Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems section tests your understanding of the mechanical, physical, and biochemical functions of human tissues, organs, and organ systems. You’ll be challenged to demonstrate your understanding of the basic chemical and physical principles that underlie the mechanisms operating in the human body—plus, as with the section above, you’ll need to show that you can reason about and apply your understanding of these principles to living systems.

  • Number of MCAT questions: 59
  • Time: 95 minutes
  • Types of questions: Passage-based and discrete

Academic disciplines that may be drawn from:

  • First-semester biochemistry: 25%
  • Introductory biology: 5%
  • General chemistry: 30%
  • Organic chemistry: 15%
  • Introductory physics: 25%

For more detailed information and sample questions, you can access an interactive tool from the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Don’t forget: Ross University School of Medicine looks at your MCAT score very closely when we’re considering your candidacy for our program. It’s a very important part of your student profile—but it’s not the only part. Learn more about our other admissions requirements.