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The MCAT Exam and COVID-19

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Update: July 31, 2020

We know that you and your admissions colleagues are carrying great responsibility at your institutions during this unprecedented time. We recognize that the disrupted MCAT testing calendar makes the 2021 application cycle more challenging. To assist you and your applicants, we have developed the following plans help reduce some of these challenges and help you build a class that meets your institution’s mission and goals. Central to this plan is an expanded testing calendar designed to support safe, on-site testing during the COVID-19 pandemic and to provide flexibility to applicants by pairing more testing opportunities with the ability to reschedule as the virus evolves. The updated calendar attempts to provide enough capacity for everyone who wants to test in 2020. This webpage provides detail about the testing calendar for the remainder of 2020.

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Test delivery plans

There will be 21 exam dates held in the remainder of 2020. We added three new dates (June 28, September 27, September 28) and will offer three testing appointments on each of the 21 dates. Exam appointments will start at 6:30 a.m., 12:15 p.m., and 6:00 p.m. (local time). These new dates and test appointments will support delivery of about 1.5 times the number of testing appointments we have in a typical year, adding enough capacity to make up for canceled exams, meet social distancing requirements, and provide flexibility in locations with longer stay-at-home requirements. Rescheduling fees have been waived so that students can change their reservations if local health and safety advisories change.

Test centers will use rigorous safety measures, including:

  • Require that examinees acknowledge that they meet current health requirements and will follow health and safety guidelines while testing.
  • Social distancing: examinees will be seated six feet (2 meters) apart in the test center.
  • Examinees will be required to wear masks and will be allowed to wear gloves in the test centers.
  • Hand sanitizer and tissues will be available.
  • Enhanced disinfecting practices will occur at all test centers.

learn more about the health and safety protocols in place at MCAT test centers

Visit our FAQs for more information about test delivery.

Shortened test forms

To offer three test appointments per day from May 29 through September 28, we temporarily shortened the exam to 5 hours and 45 minutes.

To do this, elements of the exam were reduced or removed to shorten the seated time, such as the tutorial and end-of-day survey. The number of scored questions remains the same.

Students will still be tested on all four sections of the exam and will be responsible for demonstrating the same knowledge and skills at the same levels of difficulty as on the full-length exam. View the test day schedule.

Students will receive the same scores on the shorted exam as they do on the full-length test. These scores will have the same precision and confidence bands as scores on the full-length exam.

To replace the Tutorial, we have an open-access interactive tool on our MCAT Preparation Hub that enables students to practice with the exam-day features.

Visit our FAQs for more information about the shortened exam.

Expedited score reporting

Scores will be reported in two weeks rather than the typical four weeks for exams held from June 19 to September 28 so that applicants’ scores will be reported more quickly to you.

Updates on the numbers and percentages of applications that include MCAT scores will be regularly reported to medical schools throughout the 2021 cycle.

Visit our FAQs for more information about expedited score reporting.

Score use

Please see the Using MCAT Data in 2021 Medical Student Selection guide for information about how to interpret and use MCAT scores in the context of holistic review. 

Visit our FAQs for more information about score use.

MCAT testing plans for 2021

As you know, there is a science to the way exams are created so that they measure the same knowledge and skills at the same levels of difficulty. There is also a science for scoring tests so that scores have the same meaning for each examinee, no matter when students take the exam and which version of the test they take. Scientific principles also help protect the security of the exam. We used these scientific principles to create the testing and score release schedule for 2020. Beginning next year, the testing calendar, score reporting schedule, and test delivery plans will return to those in place during a typical testing year.

Visit our FAQs for more information about the MCAT testing plans for 2021.

Please email us at any time at with your questions or comments about these plans and how we can help you through this unprecedented admissions cycle.

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