Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems

59 Questions | 95 Minutes

Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

53 Questions | 90 Minutes

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Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems

59 Questions | 95 Minutes

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Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior

59 Questions | 95 Minutes


Test Format

The MCAT is divided up into the four sections listed above. Within each sections, most of the questions are passage-based, meaning that the test taker must refer to a short passage to answer questions. Typically there can range from 4 to 6 questions per passage, and about 8 to 10 passages per section. Because so many questions are passage-based, scientific literature comprehension is vital to success on the MCAT. The Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills questions are exclusively passage-based, whereas the other three sections have about 1/4 discrete questions and 3/4 passage-based questions. To see a tutorial of the computer-based format of the MCAT click here.

MCAT Schedule Duration
Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems 95 Minutes
Break 10 Minutes
Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills 90 Minutes
Break 30 Minutes
Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems 95 Minutes
Break 10 Minutes
Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior 95 Minutes

Foundational Concepts

The AAMC divides subject matter covered by the MCAT into groups called Foundational Concepts. The first three concepts are tested in the Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems section. The 4th and 5th concepts are tested in the Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems section. Concepts 6-10 are tested in the Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior. To learn more about each concept visit the “Learn More” page for each section on the exam. For additional resources on Foundational Concepts click here.

Scientific Inquiry and Reasoning Skills

It would be a mistake to believe that the MCAT rewards rote memorization. Most of the questions on the test involve a combination of knowing Foundational Concepts and applying Scientific Inquiry and Reasoning Skills. There are 4 skills that the MCAT tests: 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.


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