The Medical College Admission Test® (MCAT®) is a standardized, multiple-choice exam administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). It is an essential task to complete for an aspiring medical student. While there are many important parts to a medical school application, the score that you receive on the MCAT, coupled with your grade point average (GPA), are two of the most important factors that an admissions committee at an accredited medical school—such as Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM)*—will consider. Admissions officials take into account all MCAT parts to assess a student’s problem-solving skills, critical thinking, and knowledge of natural, behavioral, and social science concepts and principles prerequisite to the study of medicine.

The AAMC provides prospective medical students with a grid that outlines previous admissions statistics based on student GPAs and MCAT scores.  Because of the profound impact that test results have, those who are planning on applying to medical school will need to understand what is on the MCAT.

What is tested on the MCAT?

Before you begin any kind of MCAT study, the first question to ask is what is on the MCAT? Test topics include a variety of medical science subjects, and you will need to understand how the subjects are tested. The MCAT examines your scientific inquiry and reasoning through four main skills:

MCAT takers must demonstrate their knowledge of concepts and principles in the behavioral, natural, and social sciences, as well as their relationships with one another.

Here, students use scientific concepts, models, and theories to solve problems in the behavioral, natural, and social sciences.

MCAT takers must demonstrate their understanding of scientific methodology, as well as the ways behavioral, natural, and social scientists conduct research to test and extend scientific knowledge.

Here, students demonstrate their data-based and statistical reasoning skills and they must read and interpret results using charts, graphs, and tables.

MCAT Format

To fully understand what is on the MCAT, it is important to understand the MCAT categories and how the test is formatted. All questions are multiple choice, and the MCAT topics are divided into four sections:

For BBLS (the biology section), you have 95 minutes to answer 59 questions that cover concepts of biochemistry, biology, and both inorganic and organic chemistry. This section also tests your knowledge of cellular and molecular biology as well as research and statistical topics.

Also posing 59 questions over 95 minutes, CPBS (the chemistry section) covers biology, biochemistry, physics, and inorganic and organic chemistry. This section also tests your knowledge of the functions of human tissues, organs, and organ systems.

Following the 59 question/ 95 minute structure, PSBB (the “psych and soc” section) covers concepts related to the behavioral and sociocultural determinants of health.

For CARS (the verbal reasoning section), you have 90 minutes to answer 53 passage-based questions. Here, students must demonstrate the ability to logically and critically reason based on the provided information—which is not necessarily science-based.

Now that you know more about MCAT topics, dig in deeper and begin studying well in advance—anywhere from three to six months before test day. RUSM’s MCAT page has more information on this important test, and you should also check out the MCAT FAQs. Learn more about RUSM’s MD program, take the MCAT, and apply for admission to RUSM to put all that knowledge to good use and begin your journey to becoming a physician.

Related Resources:

*Ross University School of Medicine is an accredited medical school, determined by the Caribbean Accreditation Authority for Education in Medicine and other Health Professions (CAAM-HP, CAAM-HP is the legally constituted body established in 2003 under the aegis of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), empowered to determine and prescribe standards and to accredit programs of medical, dental, veterinary and other health professions education on behalf of the contracting parties in CARICOM.

Accreditation by CAAM-HP is a rigorous, peer review process which examines all aspects of a medical program. The CAAM-HP board, an independent and autonomous body of professionals, only certifies medical schools which are operating at the highest levels of industry standards.

Through this accreditation, the CAAM-HP provides assurance to medical students, graduates, the medical profession, healthcare institutions and the public that programs leading to qualifications in medicine meet appropriate national and international standards for educational quality, and that the graduates have a sufficiently complete and valid educational experience.

In 2020, 91% of RUSM students passed the initial step of the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) on the first attempt. And in 2021-2022, results show yet another strong year for RUSM with a 96% first-time residency attainment rate* thus far. Located on the island of Barbados and with a network of more than 15,000 alumni, RUSM is one of the largest providers of doctors for the U.S. healthcare system. RUSM graduates practice in all 50 states and in Puerto Rico.

*First time residency attainment rate is the percent of students attaining a 2022-23 residency position out of all graduates or expected graduates in 2021-22 who were active applicants in the 2022 NRMP match or who attained a residency position outside the NRMP match.