How Becoming a Doctor Works

Taking the MCAT

Besides your college transcript, most medical schools require you to take the MCAT and supply your score with your application. The MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) is an all-day, standardized, multiple-choice test administered by the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC).

In the United States, the MCAT is offered 30 times each year from January through September and registration costs $315. The MCAT is intended to assist admissions committees in predicting who will do well in medical school. Almost all medical schools require it. This is a way for medical schools to compare candidates from different schools and different backgrounds. After all, one could argue that the same GPA from a more prestigious school means more. However, the MCAT provides a common denominator to compare candidates from different schools. This is a one of the most important tests you will take and you should study for it. I studied for almost two months for it.

The MCAT consists of four sections:

  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
  • Critical Analysis and Reading Skills

Between 50,000 and 60,000 students take the MCAT each year. The highest possible total score on the MCAT is 528 and the highest score on each of the four sections of the test is 132. Of the students who matriculated into medical school in 2018, their mean total MCAT score was 511 with the average score on each section between 127 and 128 [source: AAMC].

Before you apply to medical school you should know that there are actually two types of medical training: allopathic and osteopathic. Allopathic medical schools are the traditional medical schools that confer an MD degree to graduates. Osteopathic schools confer a DO degree. They are very similar except that osteopathic schools have additional courses in Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT). OMTs are manipulative techniques to help heal, relieve pain, and restore range of motion.

As of 2018, there are more than 114,000 DOs practicing in the US and more than 30,000 students enrolled osteopathic medical schools. In practice, 31.9 percent of DOs are in primary care, 17.8 percent are in internal medicine and 6.8 percent work in pediatrics [source: AOA]. Find out more about osteopathic medicine at