The MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) is comprised of four sections: Biological & Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems, Chemical & Physical Foundations of Biological Systems, Critical Analysis & Reasoning Skills, and Psychological, Social & Biological Foundations of Behavior. For more information, read The Official Guide to the MCAT Exam and utilize the online MCAT practice tests and How Do I Prepare for the MCAT Exam.
The DAT (Dental Admission Test) includes four sections: Survey of the Natural Sciences, Perceptual Ability, Reading Comprehension, and Quantitative Reasoning. In order to take the DAT, applicants should first read The DAT Guide.
Veterinary Medicine (some veterinary schools do accept the MCAT) and Physician Assistant programs may require the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), although many are dropping entrance exam requirements. The GRE evaluates an applicant based on three areas: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing.
When Should I Take an Entrance Exam?
- after completing required courses
- when you will be able to best prepare, and preparation won't interfere with your academic work
- when you have plans to apply
- when you have time to retake the exam before applying, if necessary
- and within a timeframe where your score will not expire
Preparing for an Exam
Preparing for an entrance exam is not a sprint, it's a marathon. The key is to give yourself adequate time to study based on your comfort level with the subject material and testing format, to become familiar with the official exam instructions and preparation materials, and to utilize practice tests. As you prepare keep the following in mind:
- Register several months ahead to get the date and location you want – seats are limited.
- Take an exam early so you know what your score is before you apply and with time to retake it if necessary. Scores may take up to 30 days to reach admissions offices depending on the exam and many schools will not consider your application until they have your scores.
- Allow at least two to three months of concentrated, serious studying before taking an exam. Think of it as being equivalent to the time you would devote to studying for a science course.
- While prep courses can be tools to improve test preparedness, they are generally not necessary. Rather, developing good study habits and good self-discipline will make the difference. Ask students who have already taken an exam how they prepared, and do an honest assessment of your study skills and habits to decide what method is best for you.
- Research and read up on the entrance exam you plan to take. You should know what to expect and be versed in the types of questions or problems you will face before you sit down to take it.
- Utilize online practice tests and become familiar with online testing. Most official exam websites have practice tests available online.
- Practice, practice, practice…and then practice some more.
- All of your scores will be reported to schools; you do not have the option to withhold them - so take the test only when you are ready.