can you use calculator on mcat

Can You Use Calculator On MCAT? (In-Depth Guide)

Students may worry, "can you use the calculator on MCAT" while they study for the high-stakes medical school entrance exam. Here is the answer you need!

June 16, 2022

If you want to go to medical school, you already know that you must take the MCAT in order to get admitted. The MCAT is one of the most difficult admission examinations available.

You’ve been studying nonstop, and your MCAT exam date is approaching quickly. You’re aware that you’ll be assessed on science, as well as verbal and writing thinking abilities.

You’ll very certainly need to tackle some fundamental math questions as well, such as geometry, algebra, and statistics. This brings the question, “Can you use a calculator on the MCAT?”.

We prepared this article after hours of research to provide you with some pointers on how to pass the MCAT math section without using a calculator.

can you use calculator on mcat

Can you use calculator on MCAT?

The MCAT is an interdisciplinary exam that assesses your knowledge of a variety of subjects. It’s one of the most difficult examinations you’ll ever take, designed to assess your critical thinking and reasoning abilities.

Some questions will include mathematics problems in addition to passage-based questions. So, So, do you get a calculator on the MCAT, or Are calculators allowed on the MCAT?

The AAMC does not allow students to use a calculator on test day, which is one of the factors that make the MCAT difficult. This is not, however, a reason for concern.

Candidates must answer mathematical questions based on their understanding of physics, chemistry, and statistical reasoning, among other disciplines, to pass the MCAT. With certain ingenuity and effort, the exam may be done without using a calculator.

Why are you not allowed to use a calculator on the MCAT?

The possibility of cheating is the most obvious. Undergraduate students commonly utilize graphing and scientific calculators throughout their studies, and they are amazingly complicated. They’re essentially self-contained computers.

The MCAT is more of a thinking examination than a maths exam. The exam’s goal is to determine if candidates have the potential to attend medical school as well as the aptitude and desire to study for it.

The purpose of the test is to see how effectively students can read the supplied material, grasp it, and then address the problem without succumbing to the stress of an exam.

It assesses their ability to approach seemingly difficult issues and passages, apply their knowledge and come up with a suitable answer for each question. The ability of students to enter numbers into a calculator has little bearing on their thinking or problem-solving abilities.

Because the MCAT does not involve challenging math problems, many people feel that calculators are not permitted. This is not totally accurate. Many questions need good mathematics abilities.

Students are sometimes asked to calculate the pH of a solution in acid-base problems. This might require them to square their answer or complete a computation that would be much easier with a calculator.

The MCAT, on the other hand, expects students to come up with a better, maybe even simpler answer to such issues. The important assessment is to remain calm when confronted with a huge amount of numerical data that may appear daunting.

Thus, even without a calculator, mastering certain important mathematical strategies and knowing when to utilize them makes the MCAT math section extremely manageable. Allowing calculators would also make it more difficult for test takers to measure their ability to tackle complex topics.

Without a calculator, How to face the MCAT

Math without a calculator may appear tough at first, but it is not difficult to learn. During the test, you can still utilize mental math or rough paper to solve questions. If you’re not sure about your mental maths skills, it’s time to start performing some practice questions. After all, we were taught some of these ideas in elementary school, and a lot has happened since then!

The key to doing well on the MCAT Math exam is to practice basic methods and ideas for manipulating difficult problems and making them easy. Because you are not permitted to use a calculator, you will not be required to conduct any long calculations to arrive at your final answer. The numbers may appear confusing and jumbled at first look, but they can always be simplified with a few easy strategies.

What math will be tested on the MCAT?

The MCAT is largely made up of ideas that demand students to solve physics, chemistry, and other scientific topics using critical reasoning. Before you get too worked up, remember that you don’t need a calculator to answer these problems. Students will be required to complete questions without the use of any help, like with many previous assessment techniques. [1]

The Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems segment of the MCAT will cover the majority of the math. Basic algebra, trigonometry, and arithmetic, which you should have mastered in school, will be required to complete problems.

The MCAT does not include any calculus questions. You will be expected to answer physics and chemical issues using arithmetic.

To ensure that you grasp the calculations necessary on the MCAT, we recommend brushing up on some specific math questions. These arithmetic subjects should be comparable to those in your freshman and sophomore math studies.

Math Concept Topics for MCAT Prep
Arithmetic and AlgebraFractions, scientific notation, equations, inequalities, percents, ratios, and graphs
TrigonometryPythagorean Theorem, cosine, sine, inverse functions, and tangent.
VectorsVectors, scalars, and vector projections
LogarithmsLaws of logarithms
StatisticsMode, mean, median, correlation, standard deviation, percentile, distributions,  variables, sample size, random samples, and validity
Research MethodsInterpretation, graphical analysis, and drawing conclusion about data

How to pass the MCAT without using a calculator: 4 Tips and Tricks

can you use calculator on mcat

It is not easy to give up your beloved calculator. But you do not have an option while taking the MCAT!

The good news is that there are several strategies to prepare for the next task. Here are some strategies for doing well on the MCAT without using your calculator.

#Tip 1: Practices questions on mental math

When was the last time you had to mentally do simple math? It has been a while if you’re like most people. Many individuals have forgotten how to conduct fundamental math because they rely so much on calculators.

Spend some time getting acquainted with what you overlooked. Don’t be embarrassed to review basic math problems! It’s better to suffer now rather than during the MCAT.

A sketchpad is full of arithmetic solutions, a notepad, and a pencil.

While this may be frightening keep in mind that the MCAT is not a math test. It mostly covers science subjects such as physics and chemistry.

To perform well on the scientific questions, students will need to apply some basic math, but they will not be asked to complete high-level math. Because you will not be able to use a calculator on the MCAT, we advocate never using one throughout your MCAT preparation.

Because calculators will not be available during the test, you should put yours away when studying for the MCAT math. This will assist you in breaking the habit and improving your ability to solve arithmetic problems rapidly.

Every issue should be practiced without the use of a calculator. You should be able to perform simple math calculations by hand or mentally. You should get in the habit of mentally solving arithmetic problems. You may practice this strategy by doing the math in your everyday life.

For example, while shopping at the supermarket, you can mentally add up the contents in your basket to verify whether your estimates are right. If you pay cash, you may immediately calculate the difference and see how close you are when you get your chance.

To prepare for the test, you should understand how to use numbers in your daily life. The knowledge you obtain will aid in MCAT preparation and review questions.

#Tip 2: Learn how to simplify and focus on accuracy

With complex arithmetic problems, simplification is key (particularly if you do not have access to a calculator). One of the most beneficial things you can do is practice making estimations while doing the math.

This can be accomplished in a variety of ways. If you are working with a long equation, divide it into smaller, more digestible chunks. Determine the smaller variables, follow the steps in the correct order, and simplify as you go.

You can use basic estimates to help you accomplish arithmetic faster in most cases. The exam is lengthy, and there is insufficient time to perform extensive computations. 

Consider converting difficult fractions to decimals for such queries. With your scratch paper, you can change an otherwise mind-numbing calculation into something a bit more approachable in seconds.

You may even round up or down the numbers. Instead of decimals, concentrate on whole-number equations. This allows you to use your hand or head to get the solution.

Even if the number isn’t exact, you may check through the options and pick the one that comes closest.

Always remember that the MCAT math problems will be basic, so you won’t have to spend much time on them. You can only solve them using a pen and paper. Do not be turned off by complicated or large figures. The solution will always be straightforward. To succeed on the MCAT math problems, you must simplify.

#Tip 3: Make estimations

If the problem has certain numbers that appear to be troublesome, you can immediately round them to make them easier to manage. The key to doing well in this part is rounding numbers to make computations easier. Before immediately rounding your figures, make sure to go through the solution options.

If you believe the solution options are extremely close in value, you should be extra cautious. Always keep track of whether you rounded your numbers up or down. The real answer will be lower than your computation if you rounded up, and vice versa.

#Tip 4: Control your stress and your overall pace

Last but not least, spend some time working at your pace.

Because the MCAT is such a long exam, it is easy to become exhausted. This is especially true when confronted with a seemingly difficult arithmetic problem.

While taking the MCAT exam, keep in mind to pace yourself. Students must perform well on the MCAT and answer questions in a short amount of time.

We recommend getting a timer and timing yourself on each portion of the MCAT to see how long it takes you to answer each question. This may assist you in determining where you need to ramp up the pace.

You should understand how to use numbers in your daily life. The knowledge you obtain will aid in MCAT preparation and review questions.

When completing math-based tasks, if you feel like you are writing exceedingly intricate calculations on rough paper, you are probably wasting your time on one question. You don’t need an exact response, and if you can not figure it out, you should probably go on to the next question.

You will only have roughly 1.4 minutes per question in the Physical and Chemical Foundations segment. This isn’t a lot of time, especially if you’re pressed for time.

Aside from these tips, you should practice math questions without using a calculator first. Although the computations will be little, answering practice questions might help make them simpler. 

Study some previous ideas and include some math reviews in your MCAT preparation. Remember that each question is worth the same amount of points, so don’t be scared by the exam’s few calculations-based problems.


So, can you use the calculator on MCAT? The answer is No. Even though the MCAT does not include a calculator, the arithmetic component of the exam should not be intimidating. You’ll be OK if you stick to the main ideas outlined above and devote adequate study time!

Don’t forget to take our free MCAT practice test at Medtutor to get familiarized with the format as well as the questions of the actual exam to strengthen your knowledge and skills, as a result, enhancing your chance to pass the MCAT exam with a high score on your first attempt. Good luck to you!