Common Myths About the Content Covered on the MCAT Exam Common Myths About the Content Covered on the MCAT Exam

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Key Takeaways from the
AAMC’s “Ask Me Anything”
Reddit MCAT Event

By Anthony LaFond, MD/PHD

In July 2017, the AAMC hosted an “Ask Me Anything” event on the Reddit MCAT forum. The anticipation was high to get new information about the exam, 2 years into its implementation. While there were no revelations to be had, there were a few important takeaway points of which MCAT students should be aware.

  • All questions and passages come directly from the “What’s On the MCAT” documentation. While this may seem obvious, many students were curious if the AAMC was going to expand its content 2 years in. Particularly, many students reported feeling confused or tricked by unfamiliar terms in the Psych/Soc section. This is likely due to the newness of this section, not due to being any different from the other science sections. While you will see unfamiliar terms, experiments, apparatus or biomolecular names on test day, everything you are asked about will be traced back to the content we are told to know ahead of time, and will see in the Next Step Content Review books and content review videos available as part of our online MCAT course.
  • Older study materials, even old AAMC materials, will not be very helpful for the new test. While some of the content from the old exam appears on the new exam, studying with the old products might not be completely useful, as the new exam tests different concepts and skills. The AAMC has actually discontinued selling old practice material. This is why it is important to have material specifically designed for the new test and why Next Step has done just that.
  • There is no “perfect” test date. The time of year, day of the week, number of people taking the exam with you will not impact your final scaled scores. Many students think there is a perfect time to take the exam that will guarantee them their best score or most friendly “curve.” The only time to take the exam is when you are ready. That means studying and taking sufficient full length practice exams to ensure that you are at or near your score goal on multiple practice tests. The test makers create dozens of different test forms, any of which you could see on test day. Some tests may be more or less difficult, depending on your exact strengths and weaknesses.
  • The average study schedule is 12 weeks, with most students studying at least 20 hours per week. Many schedules range from 8 weeks all the way up to 16 weeks. You exact schedule will depend, so an important first step is taking an MCAT diagnostic exam. This will allow you to properly identify your baseline skill and comfort with the exam, to formulate the best study plan for your schedule, score goals, and abilities.
  • Medical schools do not have any record of exams in which you void or no-show. They also do not have the ability to access any system that shows whether you voided or no-showed. Only you will have a record of these exams through the MCAT Score Reporting System. Only the exams you score will be visible to medical schools. Voids and no-shows count as an attempt and toward testing limits.

The points reviewed above are among the most common and important questions students have about the test, but they are not the only questions that were addressed in the AMA. You can even read the entire thread HERE.   If you have any other questions, feel free to reach out to us. We’ll be happy to help clarify any points made or address any concerns you have on your road to the MCAT.

Good luck!


Dr. Anthony is Next Step’s National Content Director. He completed his MD/PhD at UMDNJ and has over a decade of teaching and tutoring experience with a proven track record of success helping students succeed on the MCAT exam.
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