It is not a surprise that people commonly ask us, “When should I take my MCAT® exam?” Juggling classes, extra-curricular activities, a job, and leisure activities can make it tough to find time to devote to preparing for your MCAT exam.

When to Take the MCAT and Apply to Medical School

It is advised to take the MCAT during your sophomore year of college. At this juncture, you have concluded most of the pre-requisite classes, so you should have a strong baseline understanding of most of the material pertinent to the MCAT.

To attend medical school in 2024, it is recommended that the MCAT be taken in 2023 to allow for adequate preparation. Generally, medical schools begin accepting applications in June. For those hoping to enroll in medical school within the same year as taking the MCAT, it is advised to take the exam by May to ensure the admissions committee will receive your scores in time.

It takes about 30-35 days after your exam to receive your MCAT score, so taking the exam during your sophomore year of college allows plenty of time to get your scores and gives you time to prepare for a retest if you don’t meet your target score the first go-round.

It is not advised to wait until the last minute to take the MCAT. Doing so could result in getting your score too late or not meeting the requirements of your desired medical school, without time to retest.

It is best to take the MCAT early on. Make certain to give yourself plenty of time to study and get ready for the MCAT so you can get a good score and dedicate the rest of your time to your personal essays and letters of recommendation for medical school.


MCAT Test Dates

The MCAT is available from January to September, with multiple testing dates within each month to offer you plenty of opportunities to take the exam. To take the test, you’ll need to find a testing center near you that is available for your preferred date. Take into account that testing centers fill up quickly so you should schedule your exam as soon as you find one in an area that is convenient for you.

The MCAT test dates change from year to year, so make sure you find the testing dates of the year you wish to apply to medical school. For instance, if you want to attend medical school in 2023/2024, you can find the current testing dates here.

When you look at the MCAT testing schedule, you’ll notice that there are different zone deadlines: gold, silver, and bronze.

The gold zone provides the most time to plan your exam (29 days before the exam), the best pricing, the least expensive cost to reschedule, and is the only zone that offers a refund if you must cancel the testing date.

With the silver zone, you have 25 days leading up to the MCAT exam to register and still secure the best price, however, you will not be able to get a refund if you need to reschedule, and the cost to reschedule will increase.

The Bronze Zone provides a limited window for registration, with the deadline eight days prior to the exam date. The exam fee in this zone increases from $315 to $370, and it no longer allows cancellations or rescheduling of the MCAT.

The list of test dates gives the date of when you will receive your MCAT score, hence make sure you test during a period when your score will be ready by the time you apply to medical school.

Scheduling Your MCAT

Determining when to take the MCAT depends on your timeline for medical school. Medical schools begin accepting applications in June, so it is essential that your MCAT results are available before June to know which schools you can apply to.

There is no need to rush into medical school right after graduating from your undergraduate courses. It is perfectly understandable to take some time to recharge before diving into your career. Nonetheless, you should remember to maintain a sharpened mind so you are ready for the exams.

If you’re wondering when you can take the MCAT, we’d like to give you some factors to consider to help you with your decision.

Retaking the MCAT

While some people may get lucky and only have to take the MCAT once,, it is  a demanding examination that you may have to take on more than one occasion. This does not signify that you are a failure or that you will not be a successful doctor. The MCAT is a comprehensive assessment that covers many topics and necessitates dedicating most of your free time to studying.

We recommend taking the MCAT as early as possible to give yourself enough time if you need to retake the MCAT.

Studying for the MCAT

How does one properly ready themselves for a test of such magnitude? You may feel overwhelmed at the thought of studying for the MCAT. There's an immense amount of material that has to be not just remembered but understood. The exam will evaluate you on all the material learned throughout your college years.

The MCAT encompasses a tremendous amount of material, material that is manipulated into questions that may trip you up. But don’t let that scare you away. The MCAT is a monster, but we’ve devised the perfect guide to studying to help you slay the beast here (our blog's link here).

A few other things to keep in mind:

There are testing limitations. There is a cap on the number of times you may attempt the examination. You may take the examination three times within a single testing year, four times over two consecutive testing years, and you have seven overall lifetime attempts. Note: selecting to void your exam or not being present on test day will be counted in your total attempt limits.
Medical schools take into account all of your MCAT scores. Taking the exam numerous times does not put you at a disadvantage, but it is essential to keep in mind as you prepare for your exam that medical schools will see all exams you opt to score. Every program has its own policies and procedures for how they analyze and assess multiple scores.