MCAT Difficulty

Man looking at a laptop with his hand on his forehead feeling stressed about the MCAT's difficulty.

Is the MCAT Hard?

Many test-takers believe that the MCAT is one of the toughest tests at the post-graduate level. Factors like the test's length, the complicated exam content, and each student's personal skill set contribute to this test's difficulty. As such, proper planning, preparation, and study strategies are essential if you want to earn a high MCAT score.


Do Pace & Duration Make the Test More Challenging?

Students have roughly 7 hours and 30 minutes to complete the MCAT exam, making it almost twice as long as the GRE or the GMAT, both of which take less than 4 hours to finish. Within this timeframe, you must give a correct answer to each of the 230 multiple-choice questions on the test.

While 7 hours may seem like plenty of time to finish the exam, each of the four MCAT sections has a time limit as well. Completing each lengthy portion of this test within a 90 or 95-minute timeframe can be a daunting and difficult task, especially for students who are already anxious about how they'll perform on test day.


How Difficult Are the Topics the Exam Covers?

Another factor that increases the MCAT's difficulty is the exam content itself. Although some graduate-level tests evaluate your general knowledge on one or two topics, this exam covers a wide range of in-depth medical and scientific concepts

Questions on the MCAT require you to understand subjects such as:

  • General Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • General Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Physics
  • Psychology
  • Sociology

Study notes fall under Prohibited Items on the list of what to bring to the MCAT, so you'll have to memorize specific terms, formulas, and ideas in order to succeed on the exam. Having to learn all these facts and recall them during the test makes the MCAT far more challenging than other post-graduate exams.

Skill Set

What Skills Do You Need To Do Well?

While memorization can help with some of the questions on the MCAT, you'll need to develop other test-taking skills if you want to achieve your target score.

Strong reading comprehension abilities are essential for gathering and interpreting information from the dense passages on the exam. Meanwhile, your data analysis skills will help you understand the test's scientific graphs and charts.

Some students can struggle to develop the critical thinking and reasoning skills they need to do well on test day. Incorporating a few MCAT practice tests is a smart way to sharpen these skills, get an idea of what to expect on the MCAT, and reduce anxiety so you can devote your full attention to each difficult prompt.

Exam Comparisons

Is the MCAT Harder Than Other Standardized Tests?

If you're wondering if the MCAT is the hardest exam, the answer largely depends on your academic abilities and test-taking style.

For example, you may struggle with the MCAT if your understanding of scientific and mathematical concepts is lacking. However, you might have a harder time with the LSAT difficulty level if your analytical reasoning and writing skills still need work.

Each standardized test measures your ability to understand and process information. While post-graduate exams like the MCAT are all challenging in their own ways, students may find certain tests more difficult than others based on the subject matter.



Even if the MCAT seems like the most complicated option, extensive study and preparation can make it easier to succeed on the exam.

Study Resources

Online MCAT Test Prep

MCAT Sections

MCAT Scoring

What to Bring to the MCAT