Changes to the MCAT Schedule and How They May (Or May Not) Affect You
- May 27, 2020
As many of you may know, the AAMC cancelled eight MCAT test dates from March 27th through May 21st due to coronavirus (COVID-19). MCAT testing will resume on May 29th; however, the AAMC has made a number of important changes to the upcoming MCAT schedule in an effort to accommodate examinees whose test dates were cancelled while maintaining safe social distancing practices. As an MCAT tutor and prior examinee myself, I understand that these changes have likely added stress to an already challenging process in a very uncertain time. For all students preparing to take the MCAT these next few months, I’d like to provide some clarity to the recent changes to the MCAT.
To begin with, all previously scheduled test dates from May 29th through September 28th are now open for registration, and three additional dates have been added to the calendar (June 28th, September 27th, and September 28th). The AAMC has waived all rescheduling fees until further notice, so all examinees have the flexibility to reschedule their exams without additional cost. As I mentioned above, eight test dates were cancelled, so with only three dates added back to the calendar, the AAMC made further adjustments to the schedule on test day for the remainder of 2020.
Previously, one testing appointment was available on each MCAT test date, and the test began at 8:00 AM. From May 29th through the rest of 2020, three test appointments will be available on each test date beginning at 6:30AM, 12:15PM, and 6:00PM. These additional appointment times will allow for increased capacity and safe 6 feet of distance between examinees. To further protect the health and safety of examinees, all testing centers will have hand sanitizer available, and examinees are welcome to bring masks and gloves to the exam.
In order to fit in three testing appointments per day, the total time for the MCAT has also been adjusted. Previously, the MCAT took about 7 hours and 30 minutes to complete, including two 10-minute breaks and one 30-minute break between sections. This total time also included an optional tutorial at the beginning of the test and a satisfaction survey at the end. For the remainder of 2020, the AAMC has shortened the total time for the MCAT to 5 hours and 45 minutes. I would advise anyone scheduled for an upcoming test to develop a test day plan that accounts for the adjusted test start time and break length. Creating a plan that optimizes your mental and physical preparedness will set you up for performing your best on test day!
The AAMC has reduced the total test time by making a number of adjustments to the test day schedule. The tutorial and satisfaction survey have both been removed from the schedule, and the 30 minute mid-exam break between the CARS and Bio/Biochem sections of the MCAT has been reduced to 10 minutes. Each of the four sections has also been shortened by several minutes as reflected in the AAMC test day schedule below. The number of questions on each section has been reduced to maintain the same time per question as the full-length exam. Although there are fewer questions, the shortened MCAT will still cover the same concepts and skills assessed in the full-length. The same scoring system will also be used for the shortened tests, and examinees will still receive four section scores along with one combined score. These changes should in no way impact the content examinees review prior to the test. For all of you scheduled to take the MCAT these next few months, remember to take care of yourself and know that the Med School Tutors team is rooting for you!