The Physical Sciences section is administered first (prior to the April 2003 MCAT, Verbal Reasoning was the first section of the exam). It is composed of 52 multiple-choice questions related to general chemistry and physics. The majority of the multiple-choice questions are divided into passage sets. Passage-based questions are implemented to evaluate "text comprehension, data analysis, ability to evaluate an argument, or apply knowledge from the passage to other contexts." Exam takers are allotted 70 minutes to complete this section of the exam.
The Verbal Reasoning section follows the Physical Sciences section and an optional 10 minute break. Exam takers have 60 minutes to answer 40 multiple-choice questions evaluating their comprehension, evaluation, and application of information gathered from written passages. Unlike the Physical and Biological Sciences sections, the Verbal Reasoning section is not supposed to require specific content knowledge in order to perform well.
Prior to the computerization of the MCAT there was a 60-minute lunch break after the Verbal Reasoning section followed by the Writing Sample. With the new Computer-Based Testing format the 60-minute lunch break has been substituted by an optional 10-minute break. The Writing Sample gives examinees 60 minutes to compose responses to two prompts (30 minutes for each prompt, separately timed); the prompts are predetermined and there are only two prompts to choose from. Each essay is graded on a scale of 1 to 6 points twice. The scores from individual essays are added together and then converted to a letter scale of J, the lowest, through T, the highest.
After the Writing Samples, there is an optional 10 minute break followed by the Biological Sciences section. Examinees have 70 minutes to answer 52 multiple-choice questions related to organic chemistry and biology.
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