Following a three-month hold on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) opened testing locations in May 2020 with new social distancing measures in place, requiring test-takers to sit six feet apart. The distance that examinees sit apart isn’t the only thing changing, though. To make up for the lost time, the AAMC is cutting down the length of the exam and increasing the number of slots offered in a single day.

For complete details on these changes and the logic behind them, continue reading below.


Exam Time Reduced by Nearly 2 Hours

The pandemic notwithstanding, the MCAT, usually lasts 7.5 hours. Now, the MCAT will run for 5 hours and 45 minutes. The exam includes four 48-question sections which run for 76 minutes each. In between each of these sections is an optional ten-minute break.

Accommodations requested by examinees and approved by the AAMC will still be upheld. Accommodations include, but are not limited to, additional testing time or an exam spread over multiple days. Such accommodations are often made due to medical complications.  The AAMC is also working to provide MCAT exams individually to those who may be immunocompromised. Additional information about testing accommodations can be found on the AAMC’s Accommodations Services webpage.


3 Testing Slots Offered Daily

Aside from changing the structure of the test, the AAMC is increasing the number of testing sessions offered within a single day. In the past, only one exam per testing day was offered.  Now, exam dates have three time slots that students can sign up for. These new time slots will offset the exam room limit of 15 students, which is in place to keep those taking the test at a six-foot distance. Those taking the exam will also be required to wear masks at all times.

Although this scheduling change is necessary, it may not be convenient for those taking the exam, especially if they sign up for the first exam of the day, which can begin as early as 6:30 a.m. The testing schedule won’t be easy for those signing up for the third slot either, which runs from 6 p.m. to 11:45 p.m. Neither of the time estimates include check-in times meaning, for both parties, it will be an early morning or a late night.


Test Results to Be Released Rapidly

To allow medical school applicants enough time to submit their applications and to encourage schools to review candidates thoroughly, the AAMC announced that test scores will be released two weeks after the exam date. In the past, it could take double this length of time for students to receive their scores.


Cancellation and Rescheduling Fees Waived

Because these are uncertain times, the AAMC has decided to waive any and all exam cancellation and rescheduling fees. The council understands that as case numbers in individual states continue to change, students may not feel comfortable taking their exams as scheduled. The decision to waive such fees has been made to give students peace of mind and encourage those taking the exam to make their health, other test taker’s health, and the health of those administering the test a priority.


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