MCAT test day tips

MCAT Test Day Tips: How To Ace The MCAT Exam?

MCAT test day tips are essential for almost all test-takers during the process of acing this exam. Follow this article to find out beneficial information.

June 18, 2022

It’s understandable if, as the big day comes, you tend to wonder if there’s anything further you can do to prepare for success. Although it’s a no-brainer to begin studying early, there are a few simple steps you can take to ensure that nothing goes wrong on exam day and to keep your things a little better and simpler. Under this circumstance, MCAT test day tips are essential.

There are a few things to take care of initially. Preparation should begin well in advance of the exam date. In the weeks preceding up to the exam, focus on developing good habits that will serve you well in the future. What are the MCAT test tips that you should follow?

MCAT test day tips

Last-minute MCAT tips

Get a handle on your sleeping habits

For the MCAT, it is critical that you have your sleep routine in sync with that of the exam day. In order to be awake and aware before the MCAT begins on examination day, you’ll like to get accustomed to having to wake up sooner if you’re familiar and comfortable sleeping in late. How?

As a general rule, it is recommended for you to plan on waking up at least 30-60 minutes before your scheduled exam time. It’s a good idea to get up at 6:30 a.m. or earlier in order to be at the exam location 30 minutes early. Try to start getting up at 6:30 a.m. at least 2 weeks prior to your examination day, and don’t forget to go to bed early as well! A bad night’s sleep the night before a big test is the single most important thing you need.

To help you sleep soundly at night if anxiousness keeps you up at night or you can’t get your mind to shut off, here is some suggestions:

  • Exercise — A fatigued brain and body are simpler to lull into slumber after a good workout. Getting your perspiration in the morning or afternoon is preferable to working out before bed if you want to wake up feeling energized.
  • Meditation — One of the most useful things you may have while you work for your doctorate doctor is the ability to meditate and practice awareness. In addition, there are meditations for sleep and relaxation that are excellent. Headspace is one of our favorite apps, and it’s completely free to use!
  • Limit Your Late-Night Screen Time — An hour before you go to bed, turn off your phone and other digital equipment.

Maintain a healthy way of life

Some kids do become ill on exam day, which is a terrifying thought. Taking care of oneself in general, but particularly in the days running up to the final day, is essential. In other words, be sure to get enough rest, eat a healthy diet, and stay away from anything that might make you ill, including exchanging meals and drinks.

In spite of MCAT-induced worry or panic, good coping methods, including decompressing and having fun, interacting with friends and family, or even seeing a therapist, should be practiced. What better way to prepare for medical school than by acquiring skills that will offer you a mental advantage?

Organize all of the logistics

If you’re acquainted with what to expect on test day, you’ll be less likely to suffer from communication apprehension. The simplest method to achieve this is to be familiar with the location of your testing facility before you show up for your exam. You may wish to consider driving to the exam site ahead of time if that is an option. Start to understand driving patterns for the period of the day where you’ll be first on the road to provide a clearer understanding of how long it will take to get there.

Is there anything else you’d want to know about? Bring a government-issued ID, and familiarize yourself with the exam’s structure. Make absolutely sure you have your Reference number. Due to the length of the exam, you’ll need to pack a lunch, snacks, and a bottle of water. Organize your lunch in advance (hint: pre-made hamburgers with mushy sauces and vegetables are a bad idea) and pack snacks for when you are ravenous in between meals.

4 Weeks Prior to the Big Day

An official AAMC preparation exam every week lead-up to your examination day is the optimum scenario. With three officially marked and one unofficially marked AAMC practice exam available, you may begin preparing for your exam 4 weeks before it could be scheduled to take place. Complete the AAMC Practice Test 1 the next day.

For this method, the AAMC practice exams are the finest MCAT sample exams you can receive. Some folks in the premed community believe the AAMC examinations are notoriously awful with their justifications since they don’t truly assist you to examine the subject at all. And unfortunately, this is the case. AAMC sample tests are excellent since they are based on the actual MCAT, however, the explanations provided are woefully inadequate.

3 Weeks Prior to the Big Day

Using the same strategy, try your hand at the AAMC’s Official AAMC Scored Practice Exam 2 next week, thinking that the AAMC has paid you to provide detailed instructions for the exam. The official AAMC practice examinations may be explained in more detail somewhere whenever you need to. The Next Step Online MCAT Course comprises a list of lectures with Dr. Anthony who explains the exam in detail. That resource might be used in your absence.

However, there is a significant benefit in completing it yourself so that you can totally immerse yourself in the AAMC’s thinking on how to create queries, passages, and so forth. As long as you don’t write the explanations while taking the exam, you’re OK. To begin, register for the exam and take it as a student. Once the pressure is off, begin by reviewing the AAMC’s explanation and then elaborate on it. When you’re stumped, do some research.

1 Week Prior to the Big Day

You should take an unscored sample exam just before your actual test date. According to Bryan, many people claim to be able to tell you how to convert your percentage correct on the sample test into a scaled score. There was no standardization of the subscores sample exam. No statistically significant group of people took the exam, so any estimate based on this sample test is nothing more than magic.

Complete the unscored sample exam one more time, then spend the remainder of the week going through your notes. But don’t go overboard by attempting to examine everything and don’t try to estimate your final score in the last minutes. We keep the sample test for the final exam because we don’t want to worry about the score since it’s upgraded. No need to panic one week before the test because of your result.

MCAT test day tips

The Night Before the Exam

Do nothing the day before the exam.

You’ll probably start shuffling around again and scraping your forearm because you’ve established an awkward relationship with test prep. Place your shoes up and leisurely flick through your notes whenever you want to do anything. Passages and questions have been omitted from this section. Do as little as possible. If that’s too much for you, just go through your documents in a low-stress manner.


This last piece of advice may seem apparent, but it is critical. Numerous individuals may believe that studying to the point of exhaustion in the days coming up to the exam is the best course of action. However, have a look at this. Months of hard work have finally paid off. There is no more content than you can possibly cover. The number of practice exams and tasks you’ve completed is staggering. The only benefit of squeezing an extra day or two into your schedule is that it will make you more stressed.

Instead, ease up on yourself during the next several days. Spend no more than an additional 2 hours each day studying high-yield content. Revisit your mnemonic devices, check your formulae, and even read some passages to refresh your memory. Relax as much as you can over the two days before your flight. Spend time with those who make you happy, whether they’re family or friends. Get your body moving. Laugh! The more good activities and self-care you engage in, the more energized you will be on exam day.

MCAT test day tips

If you’re like most people, you’ve put in the time and effort to pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). To pursue a profession in medicine, you must do well on this exam if you come to the United States or Mexico. Your possible healthcare career may depend on your results. There isn’t any time to study before the exam day arrives. When it comes to the MCAT, preparation might make you feel more confident and ready to take on the daunting task ahead of you.

What you’ll feel on MCAT test day?

Provided you got a good night’s sleep each night before, you’ll likely feel anxious and jittery when you wake up the following morning of the MCAT. Because the stakes are so much greater now, anything you went through before will almost certainly be amplified in this one. Nervousness, jitteriness, and apprehension are common reactions to stressful situations. On the day of the exam, do whatever you need to do to de-stress, center, and recenter yourself.

Eat a smart breakfast

It is important to have breakfast before a long test, regardless of whether or not you are a morning person. In spite of appearances, today is not like any other day at school. Your morning meal ought to provide you with the necessary vitamins while also ensuring that you remain energized and content. The following is a list of some options for what to eat before a test, but ultimately, you should eat whatever you like the most.

  • Make sure your food is well-balanced

Hunger is an unneeded distraction, therefore it is important to ensure that your meal is both nutrient-dense and satiating. If you choose to spread peanut butter on bagels rather than butter or cream cheese, you’ll have a lighter choice that includes aspects that are more invigorating.

You may enjoy a well-balanced breakfast that will keep you content for a longer period of time if you start the day with some chocolate milk and a cup of Greek yogurt.

  • Make your cereal more filling

Although depending on the cereal you choose, cereal may be a healthy source of calcium and fiber, eating cereal won’t keep you satiated for very long. You may make your cereal more satisfying by adding some more fruit to it, such as sliced strawberries or a banana. This will make eating it more enjoyable. Add more crunch by using nuts or seeds, both of which are excellent sources of protein and healthy fats.

  • Avoid consuming harmful meals

Steer clear of foods that are high in salt and fat since eating them may cause you to feel “fat and sleepy.” Steer clear of meals that are high in fat and sugar if you want to keep your stomach calm. It’s the same concept as an athlete fueling their body with nutritious food before a big game: you want your body to perform at its absolute best.

MCAT test day tips

Arriving at the test center

Typically, tests start at 7:30 AM or 3 PM. Arrive at least 30 minutes before the start of your planned test session to complete any necessary paperwork. Because the Exam Director might not always allow you to take the exam if you are too late, it is important that you give yourself additional travel time to avoid this situation. Take a look at them before your exam to see if there are any delays or road closures.

  • Planned development
  • Whether it’s a marathon, a 5K, or any other kind of event,
  • Concerts
  • The biggest athletic events
  • Other noteworthy occurrences

If you see snow outside, don’t assume the testing facility will be closed. Instead, allow additional time to get there if the weather calls for it. If the testing facility allows you in early, you may be required to proceed even before the planned exam hour.

Make a point of driving to the exam facility many weeks before your test and try to go on the same day and time each week. An accurate estimate of how long it will take you on exam day may be gained from this.

It’s good if you arrive early enough on test day to relax in your vehicle and compose your thoughts before entering the testing site. During the test, you will not be able to leave the testing site and return to your vehicle, so pack any food or beverages you may need.

Checking in at the MCAT

When you get to the testing facility, the first thing you should do is check in and wait in line. You’ll need a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license or passport, that is current (and not expired). The practitioner will also snap a photo of you and scan your hand during the examination. In addition, he or she will show you how to store your possessions in a locker and place your phone and other electrical devices in a bag. As part of the application process, you’ll examine and sign the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Candidate Rules Agreement.

Once the test is finished, you will not be able to remove your smartphone or other electrical devices from the sealed bag they were placed in. Items like jewels and wristwatches may be entrusted to your care. To enter the examination room, you’ll need to have your ID with you.

Then, when you’ve checked in and deposited your belongings in a locker, use the restroom and wait for your turn. Another check-in procedure will be required before you’re allowed into your testing room. Be prepared to go through airport-style screening before you go inside the testing room. For example, the Test Administrator may use the following methods:

  • Ask you to remove all of your clothing.
  • Ask you to raise your jeans so that your ankles are exposed.
  • Inspect your hair; they could inspect a huge bun or ask you to lift your hair
  • Pull down your jacket hood or tie.
  • You’re going to be asked to put your sleeves up.
  • Check your eyeglasses.
  • Please pat yourself on the back.

When you arrive, the test administrator will guide you to your seat. Don’t worry if you observe folks doing things differently than you or if they seem to be on a different timetable from you. It’s possible that other individuals are taking separate examinations at the same time.

The length of the MCAT exam

Once you get into your seat, take a few minutes to relax. The MCAT consists of a total of 7 hours and 30 minutes of sitting time, which does not include check-in time. This is how the AAMC describes the examination:

MCAT SectionLengthTips
Certification4 minutes
Optional tutorial10 minutesDo the tutorial to give yourself time to settle in and make sure everything is working
Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems95 minutes
Optional break10 minutesTake the break!
Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills90 minutes
Optional mid-exam break30 minutesThis is a great time to have lunch
Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems95 minutes
Optional break10 minutesTake the break!
Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior95 minutes
Void question3 minutesOnly void if you were not able to complete the test
Optional survey5 minutes

A total of 6 hours and 15 minutes of material are included in the length of the film. There are 10 passage-based sets of questions, each with 4-6 questions, and 15 separate questions in each section. There are 53 questions in the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills subject. There are 5 to 7 questions per passage in each of the 9 passage-based sets.

MCAT exam preparation

The commencement time of your exam may be different from the time you actually sit down and take it. Because of the check-in procedure, this is totally OK. Everybody in the place will be on a separate timetable as quickly as you sit down. The fact that each examination location is observed and recorded may also become apparent as you settle in for the duration of the exam.

Do not worry about missing the launch time provided you turn up on time. You’ll still have the time provided to finish each component of the test. You’ll be able to retain all of the following items at your substation:

  • Noise-canceling earphones or plugs 
  • Authentication key for storing data 
  • A notebook and a notepad 
  • A fine-tipped pen 
  • Anything additional you want for a healthcare reason must be authorized as an accommodation prior to the exam in order to be included.

You will not be allowed to erase the wet-erase pages in the given note board booklet during the testing facility. Make no fear of running out of space; you can always raise your hand and swap it for a fresh one. It’s not possible to carry overtime or take a little longer break if you complete a part early. Take advantage of any free moments by

  • Reread the questions in that area if you haven’t already.
  • While you’re seated, take a “brain break.”
  • Start your 10- or 30-minute break at this point.

In the event that you need to leave your position under any circumstance throughout the exam, just put your hand up and a Test Administrator will come to your aid.

MCAT test day tips

Breaks from the MCAT

Breaks are a wonderful thing on the MCAT; take advantage of them! You receive three 10-minute breaks and one 30-minute break. Many MCAT candidates complain that the four minutes it takes to check out and check back in means that their ten-minute breaks are essentially halved.

Wait for a Test Administrator before you exit the room by putting your hands and stating your name. In order to re-enter the exam room, your ID, palm scanning, and contraband screening will be required. Do not even presume that you’ll have the entire 10 minutes to go to the restroom and get a quick bite. It’s possible that you’ll be penalized in the subsequent sections if you don’t return in time.

As a result, you must keep all food and beverages in your locker at all times during breaks, as you are not permitted to leave the building or the level you are on during these intervals. Bring some money in case a vending machine is available. Flashcards and other study aids are not permitted during breaks.

You may take a break in the midst of a segment, but the test timer will not be paused. As we indicated previously, you cannot spend additional time on a part to prolong your break. A mental break may be taken by closing your eyes, looking away from the computer, softly stretching the wrists, or anything else. Lunch is the most popular choice for those who have a longer lunch hour. Talking to other test-takers is permitted, but you cannot discuss the MCAT.

Make the Most of the Limited Amount of Time You Have

8 minutes are allotted to sign documents of the test takers’ commitment, followed by another 10 minutes for the instruction after your MCAT test-taking experience. These tasks may take no more than a few minutes to complete if you’ve planned well. Use the additional 15 minutes to write down any thoughts you have on the notebook provided to you.

For others, this may be an opportunity to memorize the names and characteristics of the various amino acids. A lot of people use mnemonic devices to help them remember complex concepts, such as theoretical approaches. This will give you a small number of minutes in subsequent areas of the test so that you don’t have to memorize mnemonics.

What It’s Like to Finish the MCAT?

You’ll feel like your head has been jumbled up a little. You’ll be worn out at the end of the day. You may experience a sense of relief. You’ll doubt your abilities and worry that you failed. When you take the MCAT, you’ll be running a marathon of your own mind. You will indeed be given the option to invalidate your test after you have completed the last section. As a result, you won’t be afraid, it won’t be sent to schools, you’ll lose one of your 7-lifetime efforts, and you won’t learn how to use it.

Not unless you are unwell or have been forced to complete the whole exam without answering any questions, should you attempt to nullify your results. It’s common for those who score highly to believe that they performed poorly. Even if you didn’t perform as well as you expected, you may retake the exam if you want to improve your score. The Test Administrator will provide you with a completion letter and open the bag containing your electronic devices when you depart the testing facility. Congratulations, you’ve successfully completed the MCAT!

What to do after taking the MCAT?

After successfully completing the MCAT, some premedical students may be at a loss for how to use their newly gained spare time. Your journey does not come to an end after you have passed the MCAT. Although it is a vital step toward earning an acceptance letter to medical school, passing the MCAT is not the only stage. The following is a list of five things that might be beneficial for future doctors to concentrate on.

Consider and reflect on your MCAT experience

To begin, set aside some time to think about how challenging it was to prepare for the MCAT and then actually take the exam. Keep a record of the study strategies that helped you the most and the ones that didn’t work as well.

The preparation for the MCAT often provides students with helpful insights about the manner in which they learn best. I found that answering sample questions was more helpful to me than reviewing the material several times. When you are preparing for the MCAT in addition to your other commitments, you may also want to keep note of the time management strategies that proved to be most successful for you. Make use of these methods in the bigger educational endeavors you are engaged in. After taking some time to reflect, party, and relax, you have more than earned your reward. ​

Rekindle your interest in extracurricular activities

The natural tendency for many students is to participate less in extracurricular activities during the time they are studying for the MCAT. Now that you have more time on your hands, you should make it a top priority to pursue the things that interest you.

Whether you are interested in campus leadership, community service, the arts, sports, or any of the other activities and clubs on campus, you should make sure that you continue where you left off before starting to prepare for the MCAT. Extracurricular activities will not only help you live a life that is more well-rounded, but they will also indicate that you are well-rounded to the admissions committees of medical schools. This is quite beneficial.

Begin researching target schools

After you have received your MCAT result, you will have a much better picture of how tough your admissions process will be for various medical schools located around the country. Talk to your pre-med adviser about the institutions you should apply to based on your MCAT score, grade point average, and the activities you participated in outside of school.

The Requirements for Admission to Medical School is another helpful resource that should be reviewed. This reference guide, which provides MCAT and GPA requirements for medical schools in the United States and Canada, is published by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

First things first: compile a list of possible reach, target, and safety programs to submit an application to. The next step is to visit the websites of the various schools in order to determine which programs, both academically and geographically, would serve you best. It is also important to talk with your academic counselors and mentors about ways in which you might increase your chances of getting an interview.

Take advantage of research possibilities

Maintaining a strong academic record during your time as an undergraduate is an additional crucial component of your admission to medical school. Admissions committees give preference to applicants who have spent a large amount of time generating unique work that is worthy of presentation at a conference or publication in a scientific journal. This is because such work demonstrates the applicant’s capacity for innovation.

Find professors at your institution who are engaged in research projects that pique your interest, then get in touch with them to discuss the ways in which you may contribute. It is important to keep in mind that your research knowledge does not need to be restricted to the fields of biology or medicine. Pick a field or topic that piques your interest and becomes your focus.

Investigate clinical experiences

Finally, now that you’ve taken a critical step toward medical school, you should confirm your interest in and excitement for medicine by locating a worthwhile clinical experience. This will demonstrate that you are committed to a career in medicine. Students at a number of institutions and universities may be able to find shadowing opportunities via their participation in pre-med interest groups.

If your university does not have its own medical school, you should attempt getting in touch with the professors at other medical schools in the area to inquire about shadowing opportunities in clinical settings. A third option is to investigate the possibility of taking medical students on trips to developing nations, where they may get first-hand experience in clinical settings.

If you want to go to medical college, you need to do all you can to study for the MCAT. If you do, you’ll have a greater opportunity of achieving your first choice. Following these MCAT test-taking tips can make you devote more mental energy to the exam itself if you know how there will be a day to proceed. Hope that these above MCAT test day tips can help you during the process of preparing for this exam.

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!