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Types of Admissions Tests (MCAT, DAT, etc.)

Most health professional schools require a standardized, nationally administered exam specific to the profession to support the application for admission.

The Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)


The new MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) exam had its first sitting on April 17, 2015. The incoming freshmen in fall 2012 students were the first students to take the new version of the MCAT.

MCAT 2015 will have four sections:

1.Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
2.Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
3.Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
4.Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

In addition to general chemistry with lab (one year); general biology with lab (one year); organic chemistry with lab (one year); physics with lab (one year); & English (one year). The following are also highly recommended, so as to be the most prepared to do well, prior to taking the MCAT 2015:

Biochemistry (one semester): BISC 330L for majors in biology, chemistry, biochemistry and biomedical engineering/biochemical track or

BISC 312/CHEM 350g for all other majors  

Statistics (one semester); MATH 208x; BISC 305; HP 340g, PSYC 274g

Introduction to Psychology: PSYC 100g; 

Introduction to Sociology: SOCI 242g or SOCI 200gm or SOCI 210g

Research Methods: PSYC 240xg

The AAMC provides the most up to date information about the exam on their webpage, including these highlighted pages:

About half of our applicants take prep courses, while the other half self-study using resources such as those above. Beyond studying content, we recommend practicing with online problems and sample exams that replicate the actual MCAT testing conditions, analyzing your strengths and areas to improve with each set of practice material, and adjusting study and preparation strategies accordingly. To see how some of the test prep companies are handling the new MCAT, critically evaluate the information that they present online:

You will receive a copy of your MCAT scores in the mail approximately (30) thirty days after you have taken the test. You also have the option of obtaining your scores online, which is faster.

The American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) will automatically send MCAT scores to the participating schools to which you applied if you release them.

Ideally, you should complete the MCAT during the spring just before your application to medical school in June. At the earliest this will be in your third (junior) year. Those who plan to take some time off between graduation and medical school should sit for the MCAT during spring (March-May) of the year before they wish to matriculate.

You should sit for the MCAT when you are ready and never for practice. You should have completed all general prerequisites.

Dental Admissions Test (DAT)

The DAT is required by all U.S. Dental schools and is offered throughout the year. The DAT consists of test sections in biology, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, reading comprehension, perceptual and quantitative ability.

This exam is computer based and takes just over half a day to complete. Standard scores range from 1 to 30 overall. Ideally, an applicant should complete the DAT during the spring just before his/her application to dental school in June. At the earliest this will be during the third (junior) year of college but some students take the DAT in their 4th year or later (depending on application period). You should complete the DAT when you are ready and never for practice. You should have completed all general prerequisites (except Physics as it does not appear on the DAT).

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

Most physical therapy, occupational therapy, nursing, and veterinary medicine schools require the GRE. The GRE general test is given on computer and lasts about four hours. Applicants may schedule to take the test at their convenience.

The GRE includes three sections- Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. Three scores are reported on the General Test: a verbal score reported on a 200-800 score scale, in 10-point increments; a quantitative score reported on a 200-800 score scale, in 10-point increments; and an analytical writing score reported on a 0-6 score scale, in half-point increments. For the subject test, one total score is reported on a 200-990 score scale, in 10-point increments.

Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT)

California schools do not require the PCAT, but just over half of the out-of-state pharmacy schools do. The exam tests verbal and quantitative ability, biology, chemistry and reading comprehension. Beginning in July 2011, all PCAT tests will be administered in a computer-based (CBT) format, and is offered during the months of July, September, and January. Exam scores should be available online within 5 weeks of the test date.

Optometry Admissions Test (OAT)

The OAT is required by all schools and colleges of optometry in the U.S. and Canada and is offered throughout the year. The exam is computer based and lasts just over one-half day in length. The OAT consists of four parts: survey of the natural sciences (biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry); Reading Comprehension; Physics; and Quantitative Ability.

Local Test Preparation Companies

The Dornsife Office of Pre-Health Advisement does not endorse any specific for-profit review course. Although many students take such courses, others prepare without them. Some applicants prepare for the standardized tests using test preparation materials and practice exams. Please meet with a Pre-Health Advisor to discuss your particular situation if you have questions on how to prepare.

Kaplan Test Prep
Kevin Sun, Campus Manager
The Princeton Review
888-588-8378 x5121
Heather Owen, Territory Manager
Exam Crackers
AAMC e-MCAT Practice
Berkeley Review
Open Course materials for MCAT prep (free):