Taking the MCAT is not your typical test day. It holds huge weight for your future in the medical field and arriving at the test is an accomplishment in itself. On that day, and the days leading up, all attention should be on test preparation.
The single most important thing to bring to the MCAT
When the day finally does arrive, there’s one thing that is necessary to bring to the MCAT. Administrators of the test will ask to verify who you are with photo identification. This is important, because failure to confirm your identity may result in being barred from taking the test that day.
All of your other personal belongings–keys, wallet, phone, jacket, snacks, etc.–will have to remain in a locker. They will provide lockers for you at your test site, as well as keys to your locker. This key is the only thing admitted into the testing room with you. The tests are electronic, so there won’t even be a need for a pencil.
Under no circumstances are you permitted into the testing room with your phone.
What if I forget to bring my ID?
Without an ID, you are not permitted to take the test. This procedure is in place to ensure that every test is taken by the person they say they are. Some people have tried to send someone more prepared in their place.
This registration won’t show up on any reports sent to medical schools when its time to apply. It doesn’t count against you, but you will not be refunded for the test. This test registration also counts toward your total lifetime maximum opportunities to take the MCAT.
What else do I need to bring to the MCAT?
There are a few additional items that might be helpful during the test, like scratch paper or earplugs, but the test center will have this covered for you.
Aside from your locker key, the testing center will provide laminated test instructions, handheld whiteboard and marker, and foam wireless earplugs. Just like everything else, you are not allowed to bring your own earplugs to the MCAT; you must use the ones that are provided.
The full length of the test is 7 and a half hours, so bringing water and snacks to refuel is a good idea. You won’t be able to bring it into the testing area, but that’s where your locker comes in handy. Opt for something that’s non-perishable so it will keep well and be ready for you during the allotted breaks.
What if there are personal items necessary for my health?
If there’s anything that you need to bring to the MCAT, like crutches or an insulin pump, it needs to be preapproved. You will need to apply for MCAT Accomodations well in advance of your test date. They ask for at least 60 days to review these accommodations, so make sure you fill out the application as soon as possible.
The AAMC provides a table detailing what documents you might need to qualify for accommodations which include a personal statement, detailed medical records, and academic transcripts. Make sure you are very detailed and transparent in your case. The more evaluators know, the easier it will be for them to grant accommodations.
Will I be stuck at the test center all day?
The test is scheduled to run for 7 hours. Each of the four sections is 95 minutes long, save for one which is 90 minutes. You’ll get 3 breaks throughout the day: 10 minutes, 30 minutes, and 10 minutes respectively. Use them wisely. Take some time to stretch and refuel, and make sure to hydrate. You’ll see and think clearly when your thirst is quenched.
The MCAT is set up to be as accommodating as possible while still ensuring complete fairness for all who are taking it. Keep things simple by coming only with your ID unless you’re pre-approved for additional accommodating. Keep snacks and water in your locker. This will help keep your mind clear so that you can bring the most important thing to the MCAT: preparedness to ace it.