Differences Between the MCAT and the LSAT
Although the MCAT and the LSAT exams both require extensive preparation, they have unique differences, particularly regarding difficulty and subject matter. Where the MCAT exam evaluates your understanding of medical, scientific, and mathematic topics, the LSAT tests your abilities to use logic and think critically while analyzing and interpreting information.
Both of these exams are difficult in their own ways. While the LSAT relies less on extensive background knowledge than the MCAT, the lengthy, complex reading material can be challenging for some test-takers. Conversely, the MCAT has a simple, straightforward structure but requires in-depth comprehension of complex medical and scientific principles.
MCAT vs. LSAT: Which is Harder?
Factors like exam length, test structure, question types, and scoring contribute to how difficult the MCAT and LSAT are. Consider the following information about the LSAT and the MCAT exams to decide which test best suits your career goals, academic skillset, and test-taking style.
Exam Content & Complexity
Part of the MCAT's difficulty stems from the fact that it is primarily a test of knowledge. Most MCAT test prep involves memorizing complex facts, figures, and formulas so you can recall the information during the exam and showcase your understanding of difficult math and science concepts.
Check out the following facts about the MCAT:
- Content: Questions on the MCAT cover scientific topics like organic chemistry, physics, biology, and psychology. To score well, you'll need to study the various prompts and question types for each section and use the information to correctly answer as many questions as possible.
- Structure: The MCAT exam consists of 230 multiple-choice questions, spread out across four test sections. Students must complete each portion of the MCAT within the designated time limit and have a total of roughly seven and a half hours to complete the entire test with optional breaks and intermissions.
- Scoring: Your overall MCAT score is the scaled sum of points you earn on each section of the test. Depending on your four raw scores, your test results will land on a scale between 472 and 528. Most medical school programs consider 509-511 to be good scores.
Exam Structure & Difficulty
Since the LSAT evaluates your text analysis and interpretation skills, test prep focuses on critical thinking rather than traditional study methods like memorizing information. You'll also need to develop your logical thinking and reasoning abilities to express complex ideas clearly and concisely.
Other details about the LSAT exam include:
- Content: LSAT questions require test-takers to read prompts relating to a given topic, then craft arguments and give responses that showcase their logical reasoning and problem-solving skills. Unlike the MCAT, the LSAT has a written component along with its multiple-choice questions.
- Structure: The LSAT consists of four sections featuring logic puzzles, reasoning exercises, and an analytical essay. You'll have 35 minutes to complete each part of the exam, so test day lasts about three hours. Students also get a 10-minute break between the second and third exam sections.
- Scoring: Only three of the five LSAT sections receive a score. Your writing sample goes to your chosen law schools for evaluation, while an experimental section helps the LSAC create future exams. Other test portions contribute to your final LSAT score, which ranges from 120 to 180. Most students aim for a 160 or above to make their law school application more competitive.
Reading Comprehension Requirement
Despite all their differences, the MCAT and the LSAT have one notable similarity; they both require excellent reading comprehension skills. An ability to quickly absorb written information and efficiently pick out details that relate to the overall meaning is essential in med school and law school, so you'll need to develop MCAT and LSAT reading comprehension abilities if you want to pass either exam.
MCAT vs. LSAT: Which is Harder?
Depending on your academic skills and test-taking style, one of these tests may be more difficult for you. If you're an experienced test-taker used to memorizing complex facts and information ahead of time, the MCAT may be a bit easier for you. Meanwhile, the LSAT could be the simpler option for proficient readers and writers with logical, analytical minds.