As anyone can tell you, medical school is expensive. But first, you need to get there. Along with the hundreds of thousands of dollars you’ll (hopefully) spend on your medical school tuition, applying to medical school also costs you, and one of those costs is taking the MCAT. So, how much does MCAT cost?
In this post, we’ll break down the cost of registering for the MCAT, as well as the additional costs, both financial and mental, associated with studying and preparing for this monumental test.
How Much Does MCAT Cost?
Just like any cost associated with going to medical school, taking the MCAT isn’t cheap.
Standard registration for the MCAT costs $330, though this price has risen over the years and is likely to continue to rise. The Fee Assistance Program registration costs $135. Anyone testing outside of the US, Canada, or US Territories will be charged a $120 international fee in addition to the registration fee. If you’re hoping to qualify for the AAMC’s Fee Assistance Program, you must receive final approval before you select your test date and location.
How to Register and Pay for the MCAT
There are multiple opportunities to take the MCAT throughout the year, with hundreds of test sites in the US, Canada, and around the world.
To register, you must create an AAMC account and have your login information available. If you already have an AAMC account, you do not need to create another one. It’s also a good idea to have your valid, MCAT-accepted ID with you when you register to ensure your registration matches your ID exactly.
Select your preferred date as well as a few alternative dates in case your first choice is not available. You will pay for the MCAT when you register. VISA, MasterCard, and American Express are accepted, and this includes debit cards with the VISA or MasterCard logo. AAMC does not accept any other form of payment. Payment is processed immediately.
If you hope to qualify for the AAMC Fee Assistance Program, you must be approved before you register. The review to determine if you qualify for fee assistance takes about 10 business days.
Check the MCAT Calendar for this year’s test dates and deadlines.
What Other Costs Are Associated With the MCAT?
1 | Practice Tests and Prep Materials
The cost of the MCAT does not end with the registration fee. There’s a range of MCAT practice tests and preparation materials available, and while some come free, most legitimate resources will cost you.
The official AAMC practice tests, which will be your best marker of how well you might do on the MCAT, cost $35 each. The AAMC also has a variety of planning and study resources, ranging in price from $15-$45. AAMC also offers preparation bundles that can reach over $300 dollars for the Complete Bundle.
Read our guide on How MCAT Practice Tests Compare to the Real Thing.
2 | Classes, Courses, or Tutoring
There are many MCAT prep options available to you with varying prices and varying degrees of effectiveness. Whether you choose outside help is entirely up to you and depends on your confidence level, resources, and the score you need to achieve to be competitive at the schools you’re applying to.
Essentially, you have four MCAT prep options:
- Go it alone
- MCAT class
- Online course
- MCAT tutoring
Naturally, there is no (financial) cost to going it alone. You can set your own schedule and design a system to meet your own personality and study habits. However, if you don’t have someone in your life to show you the ins and outs, you will miss out on expert insights from people who understand the process. It’s also very difficult to determine your own strengths and weaknesses. You will need to build your own strategy, which will mean a great deal of trial and error, and a great deal of extra time to create those systems from scratch.
An MCAT class is a mid-range cost, providing you with a firm class schedule as well as a familiar learning environment. That said, a class will not be tailored to your unique learning or studying habits. It will be a one-size-fits-all approach, which means you will repeat information you’re already familiar with. You will be slowed down by the other students as the content will be focused on the lowest common denominator, and if you’re taking the class in person, the time it takes to travel to and from the class will eat into your study schedule.
Most online courses also come at a mid-range cost, but they provide more freedom than an in-person class. With an online course, you can study on your own schedule and work from the comfort of your home. That said, it comes with many of the same disadvantages as an in-person class, as the material and study strategies won’t be tailored to your specific strengths and weaknesses.
MCAT tutoring is the most expensive option, but it also comes with the most advantages, such as one-on-one tutoring with an expert, a schedule designed around your availability, and study strategies tailored to your specific strengths, weaknesses, and habits. Quality MCAT tutoring also comes with a guarantee that you will perform well on the MCAT.
If you want or need that extra edge, the cost of an MCAT tutor is certainly worth it—and is a mere drop in the pond when considering the exorbitant costs of applying to and attending medical school. Plus, it’s far better than retaking the MCAT, which won’t only cost you more money, but more time and energy that you could be spending on perfecting other elements of your application.
Learn more in our guide: Is MCAT Tutoring Worth It?
2 | Time and Energy
There is another cost that comes with the MCAT—time and energy. The MCAT is one of the most difficult tests out there.
The MCAT is a grueling 7.5 hour marathon that tests across 11 different content areas, including biology, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, biochemistry, general chemistry, physics, psychology, sociology, humanities, and social sciences. There is an incredible amount of information to learn, which means you will need to dedicate ample time to studying.
Most students tend to spend around 250-350 hours studying for the MCAT, though some spend over 500 hours studying. We believe three months of studying (with evidence-based learning principles) is ideal—if you can dedicate 40-50 hours per week to studying.
The amount of time you need to spend studying for the MCAT could prevent you from finding a full-time or part-time job, which will also put a drain on your finances. Depending on when you plan to take the test, you could be trying to juggle your college coursework along with preparing the other components of your medical school primary application, including an enticing personal statement, strong letters of recommendation, and a notable work and activities section.
Finding the time and energy to fulfill all of your obligations and study for the MCAT is extremely challenging. When determining the true costs of the MCAT, it’s important to remember that this monumental test won’t only affect your wallet.
The Cost of Retaking the MCAT
Not everyone finds success the first time they take the MCAT, which causes many students to retake the test. Over 25% of medical applicants have taken the MCAT more than once.
The AAMC allows students to take the MCAT up to three times in a year, four times over two years, and seven times in a lifetime. However, it is important to note that each scored attempt will appear on your record, so admissions committees will see each of your MCAT scores, not just your best one.
While you are technically able to take the MCAT more than once, know that it will cost you. The AAMC doesn’t offer a buy one, get one free option when it comes to the MCAT. You’ll face the same costs you did the first time if you decide to retake the test.
Knowing that you need a higher score and actually achieving one are two different things. Most people who initially scored between 472-517 only improve their score by 2-3 points with a retake. Plus, there’s also the chance you could score even lower on your retake, which is a serious stain on your application. Remember: admissions committees see each of your MCAT scores.
Retaking the MCAT means you need to reevaluate your study strategies and determine where you went wrong the first time, which will also take time, especially if you decide to go it alone. If you decide to retake the test but don’t change any of your work or study habits, you can’t expect your second test will turn out any differently.
Dedicating your time and energy to studying for an MCAT retake will also take away from the time you could be using to pursue other activities. Extracurriculars, such as research, volunteering, and shadowing physicians, add significant depth to your application, and likely go a lot further toward making you an appealing candidate than a one to two point increase to your MCAT score.
Before retaking the MCAT, it’s important to think long and hard about whether or not you have the money, time, and energy needed to significantly improve your score.
How to Approach the MCAT
Performing well on the MCAT is not a matter of how smart you are or how long you studied. Many premeds don’t realize that success on the MCAT is determined by the quality of your resources, your study strategies, and your lifestyle. Memm is one of our favorite MCAT study tools. It cuts through the low-yield fluff and only includes the most high-yield information. Learn how you can save time and accelerate learning with Memm.
We also have a brand new MCAT Course that distills the strategies we’ve learned from helping thousands of students successfully approach the MCAT process. Try it risk-free; if you’re not fully satisfied, we’ll give you a 100% refund. That’s how much we believe in our process.
As you prepare for the MCAT, as well as the rest of your application, follow the Med School Insiders blog. Check out our comprehensive MCAT Study Guide and guide to Understanding the Medical School Application Process, and save our Medical School Application Timeline, which includes a month-by-month schedule of what you should be working on when.