This week, we talk about when you can and should register for the MCAT. We cover what students should be doing right this minute in preparation for registering for the MCAT as soon as possible.
Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.
[01:30] Sign Up for the MCAT as Soon as You Can!
If you’re looking into taking the MCAT before registration has opened, all you can do is plan ahead for it. Typically, MCAT registration for the next year opens around October.
If you’re planning to take the MCAT and it’s possible to register, you should do it right away. Sign up as soon as you know you’re going to take it. It will make it real to you and give you a concrete timeline for your studying.If you're planning to take the MCAT and it's possible to register, you should do it right away.Click To Tweet
[02:03] When to Take the MCAT
Think about your overarching study plan. Are you going to take the MCAT in April before you have final exams for your classes (if you’re in school)? Or since you’re working while prepping for the MCAT, are you going to take it roughly in July based on when your work schedule allows you to prepare?
Basically, figure out when you want to take it so that you know as soon as it’s possible to register, and you can hop in there right away and sign up. If you’re looking for more discussion of when to take the MCAT, you should listen to Session 4 of The MCAT Podcast, which is all about this.
Why You Should Sign Up for the MCAT as Soon as Possible
The reason you should sign up for the MCAT as soon as possible is that you don’t want to get locked out of the location and date you want. You don’t want to end up having to drive all the way across the state, or worse, fly somewhere to take the MCAT. So register early.The reason you should sign up for the MCAT as soon as possible is that you don't want to get locked out of the location and date you want. Click To Tweet
[Related episode: MCAT Logistics If You Have to Travel to Take Your Test.]
[02:48] Does the MCAT Switch from Prometric to Pearson Affect Students?
AAMC announced that they’ve switched their contractor (computer centers where you take the MCAT) from Prometric to Pearson. For students, that change should be largely transparent. This shouldn’t mean anything for those students who have not yet registered for the MCAT.
That said, there are some obvious changes. Prometric and Pearson are two different companies. They have locations in different places. In Arizona, there’s Prometric center that’s just a ten-minute drive away from where Bryan lives. But the closest Pearson center is a 30-40 minute drive. So the switch may be to some students’ advantage or disadvantage in that sense.
The mechanics of how they administer the test should be very similar between Prometric and Pearson. There could be small differences in terms of check-in procedures and so on.
[04:12] Keyboard Shortcuts on the MCAT
Moreover, there was an interesting announcement from AAMC and Pearson about offering keyboard shortcuts for navigating the test. However, they’ve been non-specific about what that means. There’s no essay-writing part of the MCAT anymore, so there’s no need for using Ctrl C or Ctrl V.
Bryan suspects that the new Pearson administration of the MCAT will let you hit the forward arrow or back arrow to navigate between questions.
Can You Control F on the MCAT?
The big question students are asking is, does “keyboard shortcut” mean Ctrl F? Does it mean you can use the “find on page” keyboard shortcut? As of the time of recording, we didn’t have any definite answer.Students want to know: Can you use control-F on the MCAT?Click To Tweet
Update: Students cannot use control-F on the MCAT. The keyboard shortcuts offered by Pearson on the MCAT allow the student to navigate forward and backward, highlight (and remove highlights), and strikethrough text (and remove strikethroughs).
A substantive change like adding the ability to control-F would skew test results. The hallmark of standardized testing in the MCAT is no exception here. You can’t change anything about the difficulty, content, or administration of the test that makes it any easier or harder.
So even though Pearson announced this nebulous keyboard-shortcut change, it makes sense that it was not as significant as being able to control F to “find on page.”
[05:55] Next Step Test Prep
Check out what Next Step Test Prep has to offer, including full-length MCAT exams, an MCAT course with 100 hours of videos, ten live office hours every week, access to all of their practice exams and AAMC material, and so much more. Check out Next Step here.
Links and Other Resources
- Check out my book about the MCAT, co-written with Next Step Test Prep: The Premed Playbook: Guide to the MCAT.
- Related episode: What to Expect on Your MCAT Test Day.
- Related episode: MCAT Retakes: Change and Improve to Get the Score You Want.
- Need MCAT Prep? Get tutoring, classes, and full-length practice tests at Next Step Test Prep!
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