How Long Is the MCAT? 2023 Ultimate Guide

How Long Is the MCAT

Nothing about the MCAT should be taken lightly, including the duration of the exam. After all, the test is time-bound and any delays will cut down the length of time you can spend on analyzing the questions and providing the appropriate solution. 

So how long does the MCAT take to complete? In this article, we provide the answer to help you regulate your breaks and pace yourself accordingly. We also included information on what to bring to the MCAT testing center on the day of your exam. 

How Long Is the MCAT Exam? 

It runs for 6 hours and 15 minutes long. Below is a breakdown of what your MCAT test day schedule will look like.

Section Questions Time Spent
Test Certification   4 minutes
Tutorial (optional)   10 minutes
Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems 59 Questions 95 minutes
Break (optional)   10 minutes
Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills 53 Questions 90 minutes
Mid-Exam Break (optional)   30 minutes
Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems 59 Questions 95 minutes
Break (optional)   10 minutes
Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior 59 Questions 95 minutes
Void Question   3 minutes
Satisfaction Survey (optional)   5 minutes
Total Time   6 hours and 15 minutes
Total Time (with breaks)   7 hours and 30 minutes

The MCAT essentials (1) provided by AAMC is a great reference before exam day. 

Advice for the MCAT Test Day

How long is the MCAT test study plan with all the preparations in place? 

A better question would be how to prioritize the time you need for the actual MCAT exam. 

Here is how to do it: 

1. Take all your breaks

I know. 

You’ve studied so hard and want to maximize as much time as you can to get every possible answer right. 

You’re forgetting something though. 

Pushing yourself too hard might cause burnout. Doing so early on will also mean you’ll run out of energy in the latter part of the exam. 

If you burst your way without taking the breaks, even the 10-minute ones, you’re not maximizing. You’re being inefficient. 

The CARS section is the second part of the exam. Reading all the passages can drain you, so a break before and after should help you recharge. 

2. Arrive extra early

Allot at least 30-40 minutes to prepare and condition yourself before taking the exam. 

This should give you plenty of time to hydrate, use the bathroom early if necessary, meditate, and breathe before diving in. 

If you’re in a rush and have to hurry to get to your MCAT venue, it’s possible you’ll forget something along the way or waste precious minutes you could’ve used to set your mind at ease. 

3. Eat a healthy breakfast

It’s important to eat hearty and healthy before an exam. A bowl of muesli and a banana will give you the fuel you need. 

Or, better yet, dedicate yourself to eating healthy meals at least three to four days before the exam. 

It usually takes two days for the body to adjust but what’s really important is eating high-energy foods to keep you focused, sharp, and well-regulated internally. 

Don’t rely so much on fast food or anything that upsets your stomach. Although you’ll be able to use the bathroom when needed, the timer will continue to run. So be strategic with your meals. 

It’s only for a few days after all. 

Consider all the stress and anxiety days leading to the exam. With an imbalanced, unhealthy diet, it’s possible you’ll crash.

One other thing…conditioning yourself before the exam

There are numerous cases of students who feel overwhelmed during exam day and suffer from anxiety attacks.

The toll and strain of thinking about the MCAT are like a nagging toothache that can explode at any given point in time. 

One of the most important lessons any student can take from the experience is to create a balance in their total regimen. 

This means creating a conducive environment that doesn’t put the body and mind at any great strain. 

Creating a study plan that ignores the long-term detrimental effects on the mind or body is careless and can lead to your downfall. Take the MCAT (2) with a well-conditioned mind and body. 


It’s important to remember that the MCAT exam is an extensive process overall. 7 hours may not feel like a lot when you’re at home on a Sunday, but the MCAT is different. 

Reading various questions and constantly recalling all the lessons you’ve learned to answer each question uses a ton of brainpower and energy. 

This is also one of the reasons why studying at least 4-5 months ahead of time will give you the appropriate time schedule you need to study and practice diligently. This way, you have more confidence on the day of the exam. 

Knowing how long does the MCAT takes should help you create more room for any allowances and unexpected events that can happen down the road. 

Now that you’re aware of the length of the MCAT test day schedule, time to start strategizing for your study plan.

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