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How the MCAT Works

Registering for the MCAT

The MCAT is administered by the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC). Like the SAT, the MCAT is given on a set number of dates throughout the year and you need to reserve a seat ahead of time. There are no walk-in registrations. The AAMC posts an updated calendar of test dates on its Web site.

If you're applying to medical school the same year that you're taking the MCAT, the AAMC recommends that you register take the test before September. Taking the test early assures that you'll have enough time to send your scores to medical schools ahead of their application deadlines. If you wait until September and something goes wrong -- you get sick or there's a computer malfunction at the testing facility -- you could miss your only chance to get your scores in on time.

There are two registration deadlines for each test date: regular and late. If you register on or before the regular deadline (two weeks before the test date), you pay the normal registration fee ($230). But if you wait longer, you pay a late fee ($55) on top of the registration fee. The late registration deadline is a week before the test date. To ensure that you get the test date you want, the AAMC recommends registering at least 60 days in advance [source: AAMC].

You must register for the exam through the AAMC Web site. First you need to log into the AAMC system and receive an AAMC ID. When you create an AAMC ID, make sure to enter your full name exactly how it's spelled on the government-issued photo ID you'll bring to the testing center [source: AAMC]. If you have two last names, include both. If you usually go by an Anglicized version of your name, don't use it for your AAMC ID. If you show up on test day without an identification that matches the name on record, you won't be allowed to take the test.

During the online registration process, you'll be asked to enter your contact information, Social Security number, and to identify the undergraduate institution that will distribute your MCAT scores to medical schools. The system will also help you locate the nearest testing locations and available testing dates.

Once you choose an available test date and location, pay the registration fee to reserve your seat. Payment must be in the form of a debit or credit card (MasterCard or Visa only) -- no cash or checks. You must print out the confirmation page from your registration and bring it with you, along with your government-issued photo ID, on the scheduled testing day.

Now let's take a closer look at what kinds of questions are on the MCAT.