How Hard Is The MCAT? (Expert Guide 2024)

How Hard Is The MCAT? (Expert Guide  2024)

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a standardized, multiple-choice assessment for gauging the academic readiness of medical school applicants administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

Many consider it to be one of the most difficult exams that aspiring medical students must take. But just how challenging is the MCAT? Is it worth your time and effort to take this exam?

In this post, we’ll look at whether the MCAT’s challenge is as severe as people claim. We’ll also discuss why the test can be intimidating and offer strategies to help you ace it.

So, let’s see if what everyone says about the MCAT being difficult is true.

When Thinking About Med School, One of the First Things on Aspiring Doctors’ Minds Is How Difficult the MCAT Is

As previously stated, prospective medical professionals must take the MCAT before being accepted into medical schools in the United States and Canada. More importantly, most medical schools, particularly prestigious institutions, use the exam as a primary factor in admissions decisions.

As a result, students may believe that their entire future is dependent on how well they perform on this one test. This is also why aspiring doctors are immediately concerned about the exam’s difficulty.

How Difficult Is the MCAT?

The MCAT’s difficulty varies depending on several factors, including a student’s prior knowledge of the material, study habits, and ability to think critically and apply concepts to new situations.

Having said that, the MCAT is still widely regarded as a difficult exam that usually entails extensive preparation and dedication to pass. It assesses a student’s understanding of fundamental scientific concepts, critical thinking, and problem-solving abilities.

Many students also report that the exam is one of the most demanding tests they have ever taken and that performing well requires a significant amount of prep work and study time.

What Makes the MCAT So Hard?

The Medical College Admission Test is difficult in many ways, from preparation to the actual exam day. 

To begin, preparing for the MCAT usually requires several months of intense study and practice. As a result, many students are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of material they must know for the exam. Not to mention, there is an implied pressure to perform well to be admitted to medical school.

Furthermore, the exam covers a wide range of topics and is designed to assess a student’s knowledge in a variety of areas. It is a computer-based exam with four sections, which include:

  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

Aside from its extensive content coverage, the MCAT also presents unique challenges in terms of its format and structure. The exam is entirely made up of multiple-choice questions, which can be difficult for some students who are unfamiliar with or struggle with this test format.

Moreover, each segment of the exam is timed. Each section contains 59 questions that must be answered in 95 minutes. This requires students to not only understand the material but also to work quickly and efficiently under pressure.

Finally, the total duration of the tests may reach seven hours. This makes for a time-consuming undertaking that could be mentally and physically draining, eventually taking its toll on the exam takers.

Is It Hard to Get a 510 on the MCAT?

Many aspiring medical students wonder what MCAT score they should aim for. One frequently discussed benchmark is a score of 510, which is considered a competitive score for most medical schools.

Getting a 510 on the MCAT, on the other hand, is no easy task. The average MCAT score for applicants accepted to medical school in 2020, according to AAMC data, was 511.5. This means that scoring a 510 puts you slightly below average compared to other successful applicants.

However, keep in mind that the MCAT is only one component of your application, and many other factors can impact your chances of admission to medical school. Your undergraduate GPA, extracurricular activities, personal statement, and letters of recommendation are also critical components of your application.

Finally, while a 510 on the MCAT is attainable and can be a good goal to strive for, it is critical not to obsess over this number or let it define your entire application. Instead, concentrate on performing well on the exam and presenting yourself as a well-rounded candidate with a genuine interest in medicine.

Will MCAT Prep Courses Help You Score Higher?

Despite the many challenges associated with the MCAT, many students find that with hard work, dedication, and effective study strategies, they can successfully navigate it. These aspiring doctors use online resources, purchase study guides, or seek advice from mentors who have previously taken similar exams. They also take prep courses from reputable providers such as Blueprint MCAT.

Participating in these prep courses is fairly common among exam takers because they believe it is an important investment that will help them achieve higher scores. After all, the purpose of these lessons is to provide students with the tools they need to succeed on the MCAT.

These are some of the ways an MCAT prep course can help students ace the exam:

Content Review

Established MCAT prep courses will give you a thorough review of all the content covered on the MCAT, including biology, chemistry, physics, and psychology. They will also teach you test-taking strategies, which can help you answer questions more efficiently.

Practice Tests

Moreover, they typically conduct practice tests that simulate the actual exam, which can help you get a feel for the format and timing of the test. By taking these practice tests, you can identify your strengths and weaknesses and strategize your studying accordingly.

Expert Guidance

Experienced instructors who have taken the exam themselves and scored well are often responsible for overseeing these prep courses. These experts can provide you with expert guidance on how to approach the exam and answer difficult questions.


Lastly, studying for the MCAT can be a long and tiring process. MCAT prep courses can help keep you motivated by providing a structured study plan, study materials, and support from fellow students.

Is the MCAT the Hardest Test?

One question that frequently arises when discussing the MCAT is whether it truly is the most difficult test out there. While this question does not have a definitive answer, it is clear that the MCAT is one of the most difficult standardized exams that students can take.

While there may be other tests that are just as difficult, if not more difficult, than the MCAT, it remains an important undertaking for anyone wishing to pursue a career in medicine. But by approaching it with diligence and determination, students can overcome its challenges and move one step closer to achieving their dreams.

Get Started Early to Score High

We’ve already established that the MCAT is a comprehensive test that covers a lot of material, and mastering everything in a short amount of time can be incredibly hard. When you start early, you can give yourself the time you need to review all of the material and practice your test-taking skills.

Furthermore, planning ahead of time can help you avoid cramming and last-minute studying, which can be stressful and ineffective. When you begin early, you can divide the material into smaller, more manageable chunks and study at a consistent pace over a longer period. This can help you retain information more effectively and reduce test anxiety.

Even the AAMC recommends that those wishing to enter medical school begin studying for the MCAT at least twelve months in advance.

As You Approach the MCAT Exam

As the date of your MCAT exam approaches, it is critical to stay focused and maintain good study habits. This entails maintaining a consistent study schedule and reviewing all of the material you have learned during your preparation.

Taking practice tests can also help you get a feel for what the actual exam will be like. This will help you identify areas where you need more practice and will help you improve your test-taking skills.

Additionally, ensure that you are taking care of yourself both physically and mentally. Get enough sleep, eat nutritious foods, and exercise on a regular basis. Self-care will help you stay alert and focused during the exam.

Finally, keep in mind that it is normal to be nervous before a big exam like the MCAT. Take deep breaths, visualize success, and trust in your preparation to avoid letting anxiety get the best of you. With hard work and dedication, you can achieve a high MCAT score and move closer to your dream career in medicine.

Test Day Tips for the MCAT

On the day of the MCAT exam, it is important to be well-rested and mentally prepared. Here are some tips to help you perform your best:

  • Get a good night’s sleep
  • Eat a healthy breakfast
  • Arrive early
  • Bring snacks and water
  • Stay calm and focused

By following these tips, you can approach the MCAT with confidence and give yourself the best chance of success.


As you prepare for the MCAT, you may have some questions about the exam itself. Here are some commonly asked questions and their answers

Is the MCAT Hard?

Yes, the MCAT is widely regarded as a difficult exam. It covers a wide range of topics and demands a thorough understanding of scientific concepts, critical thinking abilities, and strong test-taking skills.
However, with sufficient preparation and practice, it is possible to achieve a high MCAT score. Starting early and sticking to a consistent study schedule can help you feel more confident and prepared for test day.
Furthermore, looking for resources such as study guides, practice exams, or tutoring services can help you prepare for this difficult exam.

The MCAT Is Hard and the MCAT Is Important, Right?

Yes, the MCAT is both difficult and important. It is intended to assess your understanding of a broad spectrum of scientific concepts as well as your ability to think critically. Medical schools use your MCAT score to evaluate your potential for success in their programs, so getting a high score can help you get into a top-tier medical school.
However, keep in mind that the MCAT is only one component of your application. While a high score can help you stand out as an applicant, it is not the only factor considered by medical schools. They also consider your GPA, extracurricular activities, research experience, and personal statement as part of your application.
Still, if you’re serious about a career in medicine, studying for the MCAT should be a top priority. You can give yourself the best chance of achieving a high score and ultimately being accepted into the medical school of your dreams by starting early and committing to consistent study habits.

Why Is the MCAT So Hard?

The MCAT is considered to be a difficult exam for several reasons. For starters, it covers a wide range of scientific topics, from biology to physics, and requires a thorough understanding of each. What’s more, the exam assesses critical thinking abilities as well as the ability to analyze complex information under time constraints.
Furthermore, the stakes for students taking the MCAT are high. A high score can significantly enhance their likelihood of admission to top-tier medical schools, which are extremely competitive. This pressure can make it even more difficult to perform well on the exam.
We can see now that taking the MCAT is indeed challenging. Nevertheless, it is ultimately beneficial because it allows students to pursue their dream of becoming medical professionals.
To summarize, the MCAT is a difficult exam, but it is undoubtedly conquerable with the proper preparation. Anyone can pass the MCAT with the right strategies and dedication. Don’t let the difficulty discourage you; with hard work, determination, and the right mindset, you can pass this test. Good luck!

Eric Williams

Eric Williams

Eric Williams is a writer for the Exam Pass team. He discusses tips and strategies for passing certification exams, in addition to news regarding education advancements and technology. The Exam Pass daily newsletter is curated by Eric, who is also in charge of the coverage of all our Test Taking Tips. Before he started working at Exam Pass, he was a freelance writer for and covered news about mobile applications.
Shopping cart