MCAT Sections: What’s on the MCAT?

The MCAT is arguably one of the most critical factors you need to consider if you want to get into a good medical school. After all, it’s one of the requirements that many admission offices look into when deciding their approval.

Aside from this, it can also be a good gauge of how well you grasp the different concepts relevant to the medical field. It also tests you on the various skills you need not just to be accepted into a good med school but also to survive and thrive once you’re in.

Therefore, it’s crucial to adequately prepare for the exam if you want to score well. You can do so by familiarizing yourself with the various topics that the exam covers during the preparation period.

With that said, this article will delve deeper into the topics covered by the MCAT and how they’re broken down in each section.

The MCAT and Its Four Sections

Suppose you’re not already familiar with the MCAT. In that case, you should know that this exam consists of four sections in total, each one designed to test specific areas of your knowledge. 

The entire exam lasts for around seven and a half hours. Therefore, the total exam time is divided accordingly to accommodate the four sections.

To give you a quick idea of the MCAT, check out a short overview in the table below.

MCAT Section Duration What It Tests
Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems 95 minutes Basic knowledge of biology, biochemistry, and organic and inorganic chemistry
Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior 95 minutes Basic knowledge of psychology,  biology, and sociology
Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems 95 minutes Basic knowledge of biology, biochemistry, organic chemistry, general chemistry, and physics
Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills 90 minutes Basic knowledge of various topics from the social sciences and humanities (similar to the reading comprehension part in other exams)


#1.Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems

First, let’s discuss the Bio and Biochem section of the exam. Like two of the other four sections, this part consists of 59 multiple-choice questions that last for around 95 minutes. 

This section was designed to evaluate a student’s grasp on the basic concepts of biology, biochemistry, and organic and inorganic chemistry. 

The questions in this section are broken down into the following percentages:

  • 65% Biology
  • 25% Biochemistry
  • 5% for General and Organic Chemistry, respectively

Some of the topics covered in this section are:

  • Genetics
  • The various body systems, like the circulatory and reproductive systems
  • Enzymes
  • Metabolism
  • Evolution
  • Mitosis and meiosis

#2.Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior

Like the previous section, this MCAT section consists of 59 multiple-choice questions that are to be answered within 95 minutes. 

While the Bio and Biochem section tests a student on how well they understand the body’s physiological processes, the Psych/Soc section evaluates your understanding of how the mind works. 

This can help gauge an applicant’s capacity for understanding their patients and the reasons behind their circumstances. 

The questions are broken down in the following percentages:

  • 65% Psychology
  • 30% Sociology
  • 5% Biology

Aside from basic psychological and sociological concepts, this section also tests students on the various research methods used in the field, such as qualitative and quantitative research.

Some of the topics you’ll encounter in this section are:

  • The different psychological disorders
  • The central nervous system
  • A person’s various cognitive functions
  • Bias, discrimination, and prejudice
  • The effects of social change and inequality

#3.Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems

Like the other two, this section consists of 59 multiple-choice questions, spanning a total of 95 minutes. It covers the various topics in Chemistry, Biology, and Physics. This section is broken down into five parts, namely:

  • 30% General Chemistry
  • 25% Biochemistry
  • 25% Physics
  • 15% Organic Chemistry
  • 5% Biology

Some of the topics you’ll encounter in this section are:

  • Magnetism
  • Acids and Bases
  • Gravity
  • Solubility
  • Thermodynamics
  • Fluids

#4.Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

Last but not least is the CARS section of the exam. This is the most unique section of the MCAT. This is because it tests you not on your theoretical knowledge but on the practical skills you already have, namely your reasoning skills and capacity for critical analysis.

As such, this section is formatted similar to reading comprehension segments in other standardized exams. 

It touches on the concepts prevalent in the humanities and social sciences, such as philosophy, culture, ethics, linguistics, political sciences, and more.

The section is composed of 53 multiple-choice questions that test-takers need to answer within 90 minutes. The questions are divided equally between the two disciplines, but the skills tested are divided accordingly:

  • 30% Foundations of comprehension
  • 30% Reasoning within the text
  • 40% Reasoning beyond the text

There are usually nine passages in this section, with each one having around 5 to 7 questions. 

You can check Blueprint MCAT‘s free diagnostic test to get a feel of real MCAT.

Final Thoughts

Doing well on the MCAT can do wonders for your chances of getting into a good medical school. However, suppose you want to do well. In that case, you need to prepare adequately and familiarize yourself with the different subjects covered in the exam.

However, it’s not enough to just memorize the concepts; you also need to understand them well. So, knowing what topics are covered in the exam and how much of it consists of those topics can help you prepare well beforehand.



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