A Basic Guide to the MCAT Sections

Have you ever wondered what subjects are in each MCAT Sections?

It’s time to start making the required preparations if you’re determined to pursue a career in medicine. While some medical schools may not require the MCAT Sections, majority do.

Your chances of getting into your ideal medical school will increase, if with a good MCAT score.

In this article we will delve deeper into each of the four MCAT sections. We hope to give a basic guide to the MCAT Sections.

About MCAT

MCAT, sometimes known as the Medical College Admission Test, is more than just a requirement for medical school admissions. To get admitted to medical schools in the US and Canada, candidates must pass a multiple-choice, computer-based exam.

The MCAT is created and administered by the Testmaker Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), which gives medical schools standardized metrics to compare applicants’ credentials and readiness for medical school.

In evaluating your potential for a successful medical career, med school admissions committees consider your MCAT score, academic record, and supporting documentation.

What should we take away? Your MCAT score will directly and favorably affect your application to medical school.

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What are The MCAT Sections Exams Testing?

In addition to testing your comprehension of material in general chemistry, organic chemistry, general biology, biochemistry, physics, psychology, and sociology, the MCAT also evaluates your ability to think critically.

Thus, a basic knowledge of previous material is not sufficient to pass the MCAT. The MCAT measures students’ critical reasoning abilities and gives them points for applying test material. The secret to getting a high MCAT score is to be able to analyze and solve complicated situations.

Structure of the MCAT Sections

The MCAT is a computer-based, multiple-choice exam used as a standard. Trial questions are provided in each area but are not included against your final score because they are for future MCAT tests. Of course, you won’t be able to distinguish between trial and graded questions.

MCAT Sections What are They?

The MCAT Sections have integrated portions, which implies that topics are not assessed independently but rather with overlapping areas of focus, just as you would in medical school.

Below are the MCAT sections in order.
The four test portions that make up the MCAT are divided into four categories of integrated content:

Chemical and Physical Underpinnings of Biological Systems
Critical Thinking and Reasoning Abilities
Biology and Biochemistry of Living Systems
The Biological, Social, and Psychological Foundations of Behavior

The MCAT has four portions, each has a score between 118 and 132, with 125 as the mean and median. Accordingly, the overall score is 472 to 528, with 500 serving as the mean and the median. See more information about the MCAT’s scoring below.

Chemical and Physical Underpinnings of Biological Systems: MCAT Sections

You must integrate your understanding of the fundamental physical sciences with the biological sciences to pass the MCAT’s Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems (Chem/Phys) part.

It is crucial to have a fundamental understanding of the physical and chemical principles that underlie the mechanisms working within the human body as well as the capacity to extend this knowledge to other living systems.

While Chem/Phys can seem like a division that only assesses the physical sciences, it covers more ground. In contrast to how we often learn these sciences, the physical sciences are assessed in the context of the biological sciences. This part contains a substantial amount of biochemistry as well.

Introduction to General Chemistry (30%), Introduction to Physics (25%), Introduction to Organic Chemistry (15%), and First Semester Biochemistry (25%), are the undergraduate courses that are in the Chem/Physics component of the MCAT.

This exam also covers Introduction to Biology (5%) material. During the MCAT, a periodic table is given, but a calculator is not.
15 of the 59 questions on the MCAT’s Chemistry/Physics portion are discrete, stand-alone questions that are not part of a passage.

The remaining MCAT section questions are from passages available on the exam and call for passage-specific knowledge and additional outside content.

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MCAT Sections: Critical Thinking and Reasoning Abilities

This area is formally known as Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills. We’ll call it CARS because that’s a mouthful. The CARS component doesn’t test any prior topic knowledge, even if the other three sections contain information to understand.

The paragraph contains all the details required to respond to the questions. You are tested on your ability to analyze arguments and identify the underlying assumptions and inferences in the CARS section.

The section lasts 90 minutes and consists of 53 questions, related to a different passage.

Biology and Biochemistry of Living Systems: MCAT Sections

Understanding the fundamental processes that support life, such as expanding, reproducing, getting energy, and more is necessary for the MCAT’s Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems (Bio/Biochem) portion.

Your understanding of the independent and cooperative actions that cells and organ systems within an organism take to carry out these processes is equally crucial to your study of medicine.

Although Bio/Biochem would seem like a division testing biological sciences, it covers more ground.

The MCAT’s Bio/Biochem part focuses on biology and biochemistry, but also includes some questions on general chemistry and organic chemistry because those topics serve as the foundation for biochemistry.

Introduction to Biology (65%), First-Semester Biochemistry (25%), Introduction to General Chemistry (5%), and Introduction to Organic Chemistry (5%), are the undergraduate courses that reflects in the Bio/Biochem MCAT sections.

It is not needful to take additional biology courses like Cell Biology, Genetics, Anatomy, Physiology, or Microbiology, although they can be beneficial.

On the 59-question Bio/Biochem part of the MCAT, 15 are discrete, stand-alone questions not based on passages.

The questions in the remaining portion, are drawn from passages in the exam, call for both passage-specific knowledge and outside subject matter.

MCAT Sections: The Biological, Social, and Psychological Foundations of Behavior

The MCAT’s Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior (Psych/Soc) portion examines sociological and psychological issues concerning biology. Due to their growing significance in medical education, these are the newest topics evaluated on the MCAT.

The MCAT suggests taking one semester of introductory psychology and sociology classes, even though the medical schools do not require these disciplines as part of their necessary coursework.

This MCAT Sections is crucial because it evaluates your capacity to apply research and statistical concepts to the field of behavioral and sociocultural factors influencing health and health outcomes.

In essence, you must integrate the biological, sociological, and psychological underpinnings of behavior and relationships.

In the Psych/Soc section of the MCAT, the following college courses are: introductory Psychology (65%), introductory Sociology (30%), and introductory Biology (5%).

On the Psych/Soc section of the test, 15 of the 59 questions are discrete, stand-alone, and not to the passage.

The questions in the remaining portion, from passages in the exam, call for both passage-specific knowledge and outside subject matter.

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What Is a Sufficient MCAT Score?

It’s always a good idea to look at the requirements—or minimums, if applicable at the medical schools you’re applying while deciding on your MCAT score objective.

Also, the following information regarding MCAT scoring can assist you in determining your desired score:

The scores on the MCAT’s four portions range from 118 to 132, with 125 as the mean and median. Accordingly, the overall score is 472 to 528, with 500 as the mean and median.

Why are the numbers odd? The AAMC highlights that this scale places less emphasis on the high end of the scale and instead emphasizes the significance of the middle of the score distribution, where students score is about 125 in each area, or 500 overall.

On the new exam, the AAMC applies the entire scoring range.

PercentileScaled MCAT Total Score
Top 10% of all test takers514 to 528
Top 25% of all test takers508 to 513
Top 50% of all test takers500 to 507
Below 50% percentile of all test takers499 to below

Is The MCAT Long?

Plan on taking the exam on MCAT Test Day for a little over 7.5 hours, including test-taking time and optional breaks, one of which should be for lunch.

Know that this time does not include the time you checked in at the testing facility. Being on time and well-prepared is crucial. The Test Day schedule is provided by the AAMC as follows:

MCAT Sections Time Duration
Examinee Consensus 7 minutes
(Optional) Tutorial 10 minutes
Biological System Foundations: Chemical and Physical 95 minutes
Break (if desired) 10 minutes
Critical Thinking and Reasoning Capabilities 90 minutes
The break between exams (optional) 30 minutes
The Biochemical and Biological Basis of Living Systems 95 minutes
Break is optional 10 minutes

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The MCAT is When?

Between January and September, the MCAT is around 25 times annually. At least a month after the date of each test, results are typically made public.

What is The Cost of Taking The MCAT Sections?

The MCAT Sections cost $310 during AAMC’s regular registration period, but they rise if you register after that time or need to reschedule.

Some test takers can be affected by cancellation and foreign expenses.
You must pick the appropriate MCAT test date and exam preparation for you to avoid having to pay the price again.

How Many Questions are on The MCAT Sections

How many questions are on the mcat per section?
There are 53–59 questions in each MCAT section. Each question is worth about two points on average. While some MCAT questions are distinct, the majority are passage-based.

Is The MCAT Sections Multiple-Choice?

There are four multiple-choice sections on the MCAT. For a perfect MCAT score, 132 points is awarded for each segment.

The Medical College Admission Test® (MCAT®) is a multiple-choice, computer-based test that is standardized and has been used in the admissions process for medical schools for over 90 years.
More than 85,000 pupils take the test each year.

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MCAT Sections Breakdown Time

The exam itself lasts for six hours and fifteen minutes. In addition to the testing time, there are additional time slots for the examinee agreement, optional testing instruction, optional breakdown times, void questions at the end of the test, and an optional satisfaction survey.

These slots total four minutes, ten minutes, fifty minutes, and three minutes, respectively.

The MCAT Sections exam day now lasts seven hours and thirty minutes, or 95 minutes for each segment. The sections appear in the following order:

  • Foundations of Biological Systems: Chemical and Physical.
  • Critical Analysis Reasoning Skills (CARS).
  • Foundations of Living Systems: Biological and Biochemical.
  • Social, psychological, and biological.
  • Principles of Behavior

One could omit the optional 50-minute intervals to shorten the day.

It should be entirely up to you to organize your test day, although I’d suggest taking the breaks at the scheduled times and maximizing them.

Achieving MCAT Sections Preparation

The amount of content you have mastered from your MCAT sections prep book or course is not the only factor in determining your MCAT score.

Instead, it’s about how to use your knowledge of the subject matter during an (admittedly) extremely long day!

The MCAT Sections is a marathon, not a sprint, just like studying for it. But with the appropriate mindset and preparation, you’ll be able to pass it and continue with the next step in your application for medical school!

MCAT Sections Abbreviations

Medical College Admissions Test


The last part of the exam is called CARS, which is comparable to other reading comprehension exams you may have completed in your academic career.

It does not evaluate your scientific knowledge, but rather your ability to analyze issues and use logic to profer solutions.

Many of the verbal reasoning assessments you have completed during your academic career will be similar to the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills component of the MCAT exam.

It contains passages and inquiries that gauge your reading comprehension.

Frequently Asked Questions About MCAT Sections

What are the four MCAT Sections?

Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems (BBLS)
Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems (CPBS)
PSBB (Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior)
Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS).

What are the MCAT’s seven subjects?

On what does the MCAT test? In addition to testing your comprehension of material in general chemistry, organic chemistry, general biology, biochemistry, physics, psychology, and sociology, the MCAT also evaluates your ability to think critically.

How is each MCAT sections broken down?

The MCAT is a 7.5-hour test with four sections: Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills, Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior, Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems, and Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems.

What part of the MCAT is the most difficult?

The MCAT Test Section That Is The Most Difficult
The average results published by AAMC support the claim made by many students that the CARS component is the most challenging. CARS have the lowest overall and for matriculants average section scores.

In Conclusion: The MCAT Sections

This blog post has discussed the duration of the MCAT Sections, the material covered in each of its portions, and strategies for overcoming the test’s hard length.

You have taken the first step toward ensuring that you enter your MCAT confidence in the format and prepared to ace the test by being aware of the length of the test and how time will be divided on test day!


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