MCAT Tested Med School Content

What’s tested on the MCAT (2017)?


What’s tested on the MCAT? On the 2017 MCAT, you’ll face 230 questions over 6 hours and 15 minutes. The new MCAT requires a lot more stamina and focus than its predecessor. The breakdown of MCAT questions is 10 passages with 4 to 7 questions each and 15 stand-alone questions in each of the science sections, and 9 passages in the CARS section.

Three of the four sections on the MCAT test your basic science content knowledge by requiring you to critically use the information rather than just provide individual scientific facts. Therefore, you should know how to integrate and analyze information in different contexts using various skills and content databases. The last section, Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills, is a unique part of the exam in that it is a pure test of critical thinking. Passages on topics within the social sciences and humanities are presented and then a series of questions asks you to reason about the material presented–just as you would be expected to do in medical school and in your medical careers.

Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems

How many questions in the section? 59

How many minutes? 95

In this section of the MCAT, you will have to demonstrate an understanding of the basic process that foster life, such as growing, reproducing, acquiring energy, etc. Equally important in the study of medicine is your knowledge of how cells and organ systems within an organism act both independently and in concert to accomplish these processes.

Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems

How many questions in the section?  59

How many minutes?  95

In this section, you will be required to combine your knowledge of the basic physical sciences with that of the biological sciences. Therefore, an understanding of the basic chemical and physical principles that underlie the mechanisms operating in the human body, and your ability to apply an understanding of these general principles to living systems, will be essential.

Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior

How many questions in the section? 59

How many minutes? 95

This section is an essential addition to the MCAT since it assesses your ability to implement research and statistical principles within the realm of behavioral and sociocultural determinants of health and health outcomes. Basically, you are required to integrate psychological, sociological, and biological bases of behaviors and relationships.

Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

How many questions in the section? 53

How many minutes? 90

This unique section asks you to analyze scenarios rooted in the social sciences and humanities disciplines. It is important to note that unlike the other sections, specific knowledge is not required for this section, as all of the information is presented in the passages. Some of the subject areas from which content is drawn include ethics and philosophy, cultural studies, and population health.

Eli Schwartz

The MCAT has always tested science knowledge in a unique way. Answering a science question correctly has required a combination of preexisting science knowledge, reasoning and critical thinking skills, and test-taking strategy. For example, a question in the Physical Sciences section of the current MCAT might require you to remember a physics formula, ask you to identify the correct numbers from the passage to plug into that formula, and give you a couple of standout trap answer choices that could be eliminated immediately by an experienced test-taker.

Eli SchwartzKaplan MCAT Expert

MCAT Fact:

Even though the four science subjects cover roughly equal numbers of topics within them, this does not mean that all science topics have equal weight in your final MCAT 2015 score. On MCAT 2015, biology (at 65% of the Bio/Biochem section) will be by far the most important of the four “classic” MCAT subjects, followed in importance by general chemistry (30% of the Chem/Phys section); physics (25% of the Chem/Phys section); and finally organic chemistry (15% of the Chem/Phys section).