Students applying to medical school in the United States and Canada usually must take the Medical College Admission Test, or MCAT®. There are four main MCAT® topics: physical sciences, biological sciences, verbal reasoning, and a writing sample. Each of the main topics consists of several sub-topics. The MCAT® topics are diverse enough to fully capture a student's skills. Doctors not only need to understand the sciences; they need to be able to solve problems and express themselves clearly.
One of the MCAT® topics is physical science. The physical science portion of the test covers both chemistry and physics. Topics in the physical science portion of the test range from the periodic table to thermo-chemistry and stoichiometry to electro-chemistry. Other MCAT® topics in the physical science section of the test include gravitation, equilibrium, and sound. The physical science section consists of 52 multiple choice questions. Test takers have 70 minutes to complete the section.
Other topics on the MCAT® deal with the biological sciences. Like the physical sciences section, the biological sciences portion is made up of 52 multiple choice questions. MCAT® topics in the biological sciences portion of the test include molecular biology, such as DNA synthesis, metabolism, and gene expression, as well as microbiology, the systems of the body, and genetics.
Organic chemistry is another topic on the biological sciences section of the test. Sub-topics in organic chemistry include hydrocarbons, molecules with oxygen, and biological molecules. The biological molecules section of the test requires understanding of carbohydrates, protein, and lipids.
Verbal reasoning is another MCAT® topic. Like the two science topics, it is a multiple choice section. It has only 40 questions, though, and test takers have 60 minutes to work on it.
The verbal reasoning portion of the MCAT® tests a student's ability to comprehend a passage he has read. It asks a student to identify the passage's thesis and arguments in support of thesis. It also requires a test taker to evaluate the argument by weighing whether the sources are credible or if an argument's reasoning holds up. The verbal reasoning section also tests a student's ability to learn new information and apply data learned to other circumstances.
The final portion of the MCAT® consists of two writing samples. Test takers have 30 minutes to complete each sample. The student is given a statement and specific instructions to write a cohesive essay response to the statement in the allotted time.