Because pre-med students come from a number of different undergraduate programs and areas of the country, it is understandable why there was the development of a standardized way to compare individual students wishing to gain entrance into medical school. While GPA is one determinate, it is not the only consideration. Moreover, GPAs are not offered on a countrywide standard, various classes will present differences and well as grading systems from separate schools will vary. In a search for a standardized way to test potential students the MCAT was developed. MCAT scoring allows medical schools to look at various students based on the same criteria.
The five and three-quarters of an hour test is divided into four sections. The first section is the physical sciences test, composed of seventy-seven multiple choice questions and allotted one hundred minutes to complete. While the second section focuses on verbal reasoning allowing eighty-five minutes to finish. Following a lunch break the third section will be offered. Section three requires the student to write two thirty minute essays that will be given two grades one by a human and the other by a computer. The final section tests the biological sciences covering questions related to biology and organic chemistry, leaving the student to wait for their MCAT scoring.
Each section of this test is scored individually; however, physical sciences, verbal reasoning and biological sciences are given a ‘raw’ score that is then translated into the MCAT scores. The score is reported on a scale from 1 to 15, 15 being the highest. In addition, the writing exam’s score is initially based on a scale from 1 to 6, which is then translated into a letter grading scale of J to T, T being the highest. Most medical schools are looking for a grade of at least 30 and a letter grade of at least a P.
Most medical schools not only look for individuals that exhibit exceptional GPAs; they are also going to base their decision on the MCAT. Medical Schools have their own formulas for student selection, some place more importance on MCAT scoring while others feel GPAs are of greater value. Regardless of the school or their formulas, one must understand that the MCAT is a very challenging exam and must be taken seriously with extensive preparation.