What skills does MCAT check?

Certification: Admission Tests MCAT - Medical College Admission Test


The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) refers to a computer-based globally standardized examination that has been especially designed for the prospective medical students of the United States as well as Canada. The question format of the MCAT exam includes several sections, such as: assess problem solving, written analysis, scientific concepts & principles, critical thinking, etc. The MCAT exam is offered at the Prometric centers for at least 25 times in every year. The candidates who aspire to get admission in a medical school take the MCAT exam before applying in the medical schools. The MCAT checks diverse skills of the examinees in the four different sections. Though the first three sections emphasize on measuring academic knowledge, the fourth section emphasizes on skills measurement of the examinees. In the following the skill measuring system of MCAT has been analyzed on the basis of these four sections.

Section one: Biological and Biochemical Foundation of Living Systems

‘Biological and Biochemical Foundation of Living Systems’ section of the MCAT 2015 exam will check the skills and level of knowledge of the examinees about vital issues regarding biology, such as,  how cells, tissues and organ systems act independently inside an organism; how the biological and biochemical processes occur inside an organism; etc.

Section two: Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems

‘Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems’ section of the MCAT 2015 exam will check the skills and level of knowledge of the examinees regarding the fundamental level principles of chemistry and physics those are associated with the mechanisms which operate within each human body.

Section three: Psychological, Social and Biological Foundation of Behavior

‘Psychological, Social and Biological Foundation of Behavior’ section of the MCAT 2015 exam will check the skills and level of knowledge of the examinees regarding the practical application of psychological, sociological, biological concepts. This section will also measure the aptitude of the students on re-search methods as well as statistical procedures.

Section four: Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

‘Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skill (CARS)’ section of the MCAT 2015 exam will check the skills of the examinees in critical reasoning. This section includes some passages on a wide range of discipline, such as, humanities, sociology and social problems, behavioral science, etc. the question format instructs the examinees to critically evaluate the provided information in the passages in order to answer the questions.

Unlike the previously mentioned three sections this section has been designed for measuring several skills of the examinees rather than academic issues. Let us focus on the skills needed to crack the CARS section of MCAT2015.

The MCAT ‘Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skill (CARS)’ section is comparatively more complex. The examinees need to apply all of their reading comprehension skills in order to understand the information presented in the given passages and select the right answer from the associated questions.

To further understand the skill measuring system in the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section, the questions can be divided into three sections. They are:

  • Foundations of the Reading Comprehension: 

In the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section of the MCAT2015 exam, about 30% of the entire questions will measure the skill level to understand the fundamental level components of the reading comprehension’s text and deduce exact meaning from the provided rhetorical devices, text structure, word choice, etc.

  • Reasoning Within the Reading Comprehension’s Text: 

In the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section of the MCAT2015 exam, about 30% of the entire questions will measure the skill level to incorporate different parts of the reading comprehension’s text. This section has been designed in order to enhance the level of comprehension skill of the potential medical applicants.

  • Reasoning Beyond the Reading Comprehension’s Text: 

In the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section of the MCAT2015 exam, about 40% of the entire questions will measure the skill level to relate the gained knowledge or the extrapolated ideas from the given passages to fresh contexts. This section also measures the skill level of the examinees to judge the probable result of introducing innovative ideas, factors, conditions, information, etc. to the ideas extracted from the given passages.

The Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section does not need any outer knowledge, which is quite different from the other three sections of the MCAT 2015 exam. Interestingly, the entire information needed to crack this section with higher marks is provided within the given reading passages.

To further understand the skill measuring system in the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section, the passages can be divided into two types. They are:

a)  Humanities

In the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section of the MCAT2015 exam, about five of the total ten reading passages will be related to the humanities discipline. Under this discipline a wide range of subjects are considered, such as, Music, Art, Theater, Dance, Religion, Ethics, Popular Culture, Literature, Philosophy, etc.

These types of passages will generally be written through a conversational approach along with offering opinions. To crack the questions the examinees, need to analyze the tone of the author, purpose of the author and term or word choice in order to deduce the core themes, assertions and underlying messages presented within the text of the passages.

b)  Social Sciences

In the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section of the MCAT2015 exam, about the social sciences discipline. Under this discipline a wide range of subjects are considered, such as, Education, Anthropology, Geography, Sociology, Archaeology, Psychology, Population Health, Cultural Studies, Political Science, Economics, Linguistics, History, etc.

These types of passages will include theoretical concepts and huge information. To crack the questions the examinees, need to evaluate and examine the provided theories and data, in order to make proper inferences and reasoning to find the right answers.


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