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Why is the mcat so hard?

Discussion in 'MCAT Discussions' started by sunyplatt, Mar 4, 2012.

  1. sunyplatt

    sunyplatt 2+ Year Member

    May 16, 2011
    New York
    I have not taken the mcat yet but I was just curious what exactly about it makes it so difficult to achieve a high score. Is it the difficulty itself and some questions you just do not know? Is it that you run out of time? what stops people from getting 90-100 percent of the questions right?
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  3. 235788

    235788 God Complex 2+ Year Member

    Dec 5, 2008
    The Slab
    the amount of content, the circumstances, you name it.

    The same reason why the SAT and ACT were hard. Not everyone can be in the 90th percentile or else it wouldn't be doing its job
  4. sector9

    sector9 Moderator Emeritus 5+ Year Member

    Apr 27, 2011
    hSDN Alumni
    Well, it's scored on a bell curve, so if everyone happened to get 90-100 percent of the questions right, then you would all get a score corresponding to the 50th percentile aka a 25. They purposely make it difficult so this doesn't happen.

    % of questions right != Percentile for your score
  5. phltz

    phltz 5+ Year Member

    May 13, 2010
    Consistently doing very well on the MCAT requires having a very solid understanding of a very broad range of material - at least 8 semesters of science classes. In order to score at the high end, you need to both have a great deal of information available for instant recall, as well as to have good analytical skills and an ability to apply principles that you've already learned to moderately new situations. You need to be able to do calculations either in your head or on paper reliably and quickly. You need a good eye for detail. You also need excellent reading comprehension, and a keen ability to sort out the useful information from filler and/or distractors. And you need to do all this fast - many students struggle to maintain an appropriate pace, and suffer from moderate to severe time pressure.

    If you really want to understand the situation, try taking a practice test. That's the only way for you to really understand how difficult or easy it will be for you, how, and why.
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2012
    clairephillips likes this.
  6. Tsiana

    Tsiana 5+ Year Member

    Oct 9, 2010
    Well, if you get 100% of the questions right you would get a perfect score. They can't not give you that. The issue is how they scale the score when you get 90-99% questions correct.
  7. aSagacious

    aSagacious Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    Nov 16, 2010
    Moving to the MCAT discussions forum.
  8. typicalindian

    typicalindian 5+ Year Member

    Dec 25, 2010
    It's not, we are all just trolling you to make you worried.
  9. dreamweaver1988

    dreamweaver1988 Banned

    Sep 16, 2011
    This. They have to get a bell curve. And because you have a lot of really freaking smart kids taking the test, the test has to be hard. Otherwise everyone would do well.
  10. Duon89

    Duon89 Sun Power 7+ Year Member

    Apr 14, 2009
    In your head
    Is USMLE harder??
  11. notbobtrustme

    notbobtrustme Crux Terminatus Banned Account on Hold 2+ Year Member

    Jun 28, 2011
    The MCAT is probably one of the few times you'll be tested on reasoning rather than straight content. The MCAT heavily tests your ability to apply what you already know in new and novel ways rather than a straight content exam.
  12. sector9

    sector9 Moderator Emeritus 5+ Year Member

    Apr 27, 2011
    hSDN Alumni
    Well someone feels like nitpicking today
  13. valkener

    valkener 5+ Year Member

    May 17, 2010
    It's hard because the stakes are high! It's one of the gatekeepers of medical school! :)
  14. Picchu127

    Picchu127 PhD 5+ Year Member

    Sep 21, 2011

    without a doubt--particularly step 1 which is all basic science. Step 2 is easier.

    Step 1 is the entire first 2 years of medical school in 1 day long marathon. Benefit is no silly passages to read.

    Disadvantage MCAT is one right, three wrong.

    USMLE is one BEST answer--so multiple may be reasonable BUT they want what is most likely.

    Volume of material on the MCAT is also nothing compared to USMLE, particularly Step 1.
  15. XxSynapsexX

    XxSynapsexX 2+ Year Member

    May 26, 2014
    Its hard because of the scale, Trickyness of the test, immense content, and pressure.

    But to do well you have to get past all of these and you will see the MCAT is not as hard as people make it out to be

    Even though only 20-25% score above a 30 realize its because the bottom 75% doesnt prepare very well not because its just unbearably hard.

    Seriously anyone can break 30 in my opinion if you put the work into it.
  16. gettheleadout

    gettheleadout MS-3 Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    Jun 22, 2010
    I realize this is years old but since this thread was bumped, I wanted to point out that this is incorrect. The MCAT is not curved in this manner. If everyone taking the test in a given year had the exact same test form (impossible, but a necessary assumption to keep the scaling constant for this hypothetical) then all examinees would receive the same, possibly high, scaled score.

    I agree.

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