A few days ago, I took the official AAMC (company that issues the MCAT) sample test as a diagnostic to see where I’m at. Took it on the comp using my wonderful black background and took part of it on my iPad while the iPad was dying. Since it’s timed, I got a charger but the cord was short and I had to sit scrunched under a desk so it could charge while taking the test. Uncomfortable testing conditions for sure, but at least I had that black background!
Oh and contrary to the image I found for this post, this sample test was not free!
Here are my impressions of the sections. I don’t think I’m allowed to discuss specifics for the sample test so I will be more general here.
Phys/Chem – it involved a lot of biochem, even though this wasn’t the biochem section. Several passages were about drugs or drug development. Unlike the old version, which would have random passages and questions about projectile motion or earthquakes or planetary motion or star spectra (I personally always loved the astronomy-related ones), these were all related to medical things somehow. Pretty cool. There were even some (as I saw it) straight-up organic chem questions, which was great for me since that’s totally my wheelhouse. A lot of the material was really familiar to me because of my biochem class, but there are definitely some physics concepts I need to review so that my brain doesn’t shut down when they come up. I also could review the one-letter abbreviations for amino acids. I know them all, but a few times it took too much time of going through them all in my mind to remember which was which for some of the more unusual ones.
CARS – this was very much like the old Verbal section, except that the passages were a lot less, well, absolute torture. There were some awful ones on the old exam, that you would rather bang your head against a wall than read because they were so tedious and confusing. These on the sample test seemed more straightforward. The question style is a little different too. Just not exactly the same sorts of questions from the old version, so I’ll have to get used to that and practice and learn. I thought, from the description, that this would be more logic-based, and maybe a handful of questions are, but for the most part, it didn’t really seem so.
Bio/Biochem – Okay this is when I was scrunched under a desk so I actually don’t remember too much of the content. More biochem of course, and some biology, genetics and genetic reasoning, experimental stuff, so being able to interpret graphs and data was key. One particular question was a little confusing so I actually had to write out all the options one by one very carefully. Lots of graphs and data. I still have yet to review this section so that’s probably why I don’t remember much. Overall, this didn’t feel too different from the old Biological Sciences Section except with more biochem.
Psych/Soc – Oh boy. I thought I was going to get a 30% or so on this section. It mostly felt like reading gibberish. Actually, the passages were straightforward and easy to understand as they pretty much all described some psych or soc study or another. That wasn’t hard to understand at all, but the questions were like reading a foreign language. This is definitely the area where my content background is the worst, so that was a big part of it. Some questions I was able to reason through using common sense, maybe more than I thought since I did a lot better than I thought in this section, but so much of it there would be no way to answer without the background. A lot of researcher names (and I don’t mean the ones that everyone knows like Freud or Pavlov, or even other ones I still remember from psych like Erikson and Maslow) and names of theories that all sound kinda similar if you’ve never heard of any of them (again not basic ones that you might be familiar with) and some had answer choices that were all pretty much variations on the same thing, which would probably make sense to someone familiar with the topic, but I wasn’t so I did a ton of guessing in the dark on those types of questions, because there was no way to use process of elimination if it’s all foreign. So that will be the biggest area to work on studying and building up my content knowledge.
For the practice exam, they didn’t give me scaled scores, just percentages correct in each section, aka raw score. Mine broke down like this:
Phys Chem 90%
Psych/Soc 80% (some sort of miracle)