Essential Features Of The CBT MCAT

Things You Must Know about CBT MCAT

Offered by AAMC, the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a computer based, evaluative test for admission to accredited Medical schools in the US and Canada. The first administration of MCAT was in 1928, and ever since, there have been several significant modifications to the test-in terms of content, pattern, administration, etc. Through September 2006, MCAT was a paper and pencil-based test and was a lengthier one administered only twice a year. The current version is CBT MCAT and it is in vogue since January 2007. Managed by Thomson Prometric, this test is administered several times a year across various test locations around the world.

CBT MCAT-What has Changed

The advent of advanced computing technology has revolutionized almost every aspect of human life today. Computerization of evaluative tests has been a norm of the times, and computer based test definitely boasts of significant advantages over the previous version of MCAT:





  • Reduced paper work makes sure that computer based MCAT is comparatively shorter (5 hours or so, as against the previous 8 hours test).
  • With computerization, proctored timing of test is more precise than that of the previous version. And timing is shown on the computer screen.
  • Reduced paper work and administrative overhead also ensure that scores are released more quickly (30-35 days as against the previous 60 days). The objective is to eventually release the scores in 14 days.
  • There are more administrations of computer based test every year (more than 20 administrations as against the previous two). More number of candidates can be accommodated and it is also possible that candidates can get three MCAT retakes every year.
  • With this computer based test , the test now contains one-third less questions, but is just as prognostic as the paper and pencil based administration of the test.
  • Testing centers are climate-controlled and more comfortable for exam takers. Candidates can enjoy amenities like noise-canceling headphones.
  • The three breaks in between computer based test are optional, and not compulsory as the break used to be with the traditional version of MCAT. However, it is recommended that candidates take advantage of the breaks and relax enough.
  • Computerization of test administration has also made it possible to check for seat availability online, register early enough, and cancel and reschedule registrations, if required.

CBT MCAT-What has not Changed

However, this does not mean that the content of the exam or the question pattern has changed, or the candidates require extra computer knowledge or skills to take computer based exam.

  • The computer based test content is the same as that of the previous version. It has the same four sections as in the traditional MCAT, namely the Physical Sciences, Biological Sciences, Verbal Reasoning, and the Writing Sample. Also, candidates can still answer questions in the order they wish, within a section.
  • Though the number of questions has reduced in each of the sections of CBT, the content representation is the same as the previous version.
  • The skills tested are the same as in the traditional version of the exam. It does not require any special computer skills on the part of candidates to take computer based test. However, this test provides candidates with the facility to use some of the common word processing functions while taking the Writing Sample.
  • Though MCAT has become a computer-based test, it is not a computer-adaptive test (CAT). It is a linear test as it used to be. This means that questions given on the test are pre-determined and are not chosen based on the candidate's performance.
  • No watch, no cell phone, calculator, or any other electronic device is allowed to the test center. However, you still get scratch paper and erase pens for working out problems.
  • The scoring of computer based MCAT is the same as for the paper-based exam.



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