Applying to Med School: AMCAS 2018 is OPEN!

The time has come for the entering class of 2018 med school hopefuls to APPLY!

As of May 2nd the American Medical College Application Service aka the AMCAS 2018 is OPEN! It’s the BIG one. This application is massive and meticulous so get on it ASAP.

With the exception of the schools in Texas, the AMCAS is the application used for nearly all med schools in the U.S. The Texas programs use the Texas Medical & Dental School Application Service aka the TMDSAS, which also opened this month. Either way, it’s time to start applying!



Getting Started

Firstly, here is the full AMCAS 2018 Instruction Manuel to read.

The AMCAS is long and complicated; make your life easier and actually do read the thing. All the information you can ever want can be found there and at the very comprehensive AMCAS website here.

The application fee for the submitting your AMCAS 2018 is $160 (that includes one medical school designation) and additional medical school designations: $39 each. Keep in mind there is the Fee Assistance Program and if you qualified to use it when registering for the MCAT you probably qualify here too!

You’ll use your AAMC username and password to login, save, edit, and submit your AMCAS. This is the same login info from registering for the MCAT and Fee Assistance Program. If you are completely new to the AAMC website you can register here.



The 9 sections of the AMCAS 2018 to complete: 

o Sections 1-3: Your Background Information

This is the standard personal and biographical information.

o Section 4: Course Work

Even the AAMC admits, “The Course Work section is often reported as the most difficult section to complete.” Here you take a copy of your transcripts to enter detailed information regarding every single course in which you enrolled at any college you attended.

o Section 5: Work and Activities

This is where you enter any work experience or extracurricular activities, awards, honors, or publications that you would like to show off to the admission committees. A maximum of 15 experiences may be entered and 3 entries can be designated as your “most meaningful” experiences. Really it’s quality > quantity, so don’t go crazy here.

o Section 6: Letters of Evaluation

Here you will enter the information regarding your letter of recommendation writers. Up to 10 letter entries may be created but keep in mind individual programs don’t need/want 10 letters!

o Section 7: Medical Schools

This is where you will select the schools to which you will apply. It is also where you can designate the schools you wish to receive specific letters of evaluation.

o Section 8: Essays

Here’s the big bad essay section where you explain why you wish to attend medical school and address any pertinent information not included elsewhere in the application. This is the place in your application where you can make a case for yourself in your own words! Remember: PROOFREAD! There is no spellcheck in the AMCAS and also keep in mind no bold or italics will show.

o Section 9: Standardized Tests

This is where you any test information goes i.e. MCAT scores/ future MCAT test dates and even GRE score if you got some.



Feeling stressed? Check out some advice AAMC has to give on Application Anxiety!
Well there it is folks, MCAT Cracker‘s application breakdown. So until next time…

Happy Applying. 🙂

MCAT Section Breakdown: Biological & Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems

This is Part 1 of a series of breakdown posts that will outline the MCAT.

We’ve actually done a series like this before but since then we’ve learned a lot more about the test and here at MCAT Cracker we like to keep you up to date with the latest and greatest. So without further ado… Biological & Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems!


59 Passage-based & Freestanding Questions in 95 Minutes


The corresponding coursework related to this section and approximated breakdown looks like:

  • Introductory Biology, 65%
  • First-semester Biochemistry, 25%
  • General Chemistry, 5%
  • Organic Chemistry, 5%

Note: the AAMC has suggested that the MCAT is organized around related foundational concepts rather than simply the disciplines. The key thing to remember in all this is the integration.

It is NOT only your knowledge of biological and biochemical living systems being tested but also your skills with scientific inquiry, reasoning, research practices and procedures, as well as statistics. Keeping these things in mind now let’s take a closer look at the three foundational concepts this section of the MCAT is built upon…


Foundational Concept 1

The structures and functions of the biomolecules in cells must work in harmony within an ever-changing environment to ensure proper functioning of a living system. This foundational concept focuses on how the major biochemical, genetic, and molecular functions of the cell support health and lead to disease.

This concept is 55% of the Biological & Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems Section

Within this concept, let’s zoom into each of the Content Categories click through and explore the AAMC guides to each category below


Foundational Concept 2

Here the focus is on how cells grow and integrate to form tissues and organs that carry out essential biochemical and physiological functions.

This concept is 20% of the Biological & Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems Section


Foundational Concept 3

The first foundational concept focuses on biomolecules in cells and then in the second concept we zoom out and focus on cells themselves. Now we zoom out even further and look at the tissue. This foundational concept is concerned with how the body responds to internal and external stimuli to support homeostasis and the ability to reproduce.

This concept is 25% of the Biological & Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems Section


These foundational concepts can seem dense and overwhelming but with MCAT Cracker you can be fully equipped with these building blocks that make up the Biological and Biochemical of Living Systems section of the MCAT.


Happy Studying!

MCAT 2017 Registration is Open!

You’ve been preparing for this day for a long time and now it’s time to set a date!

Are you ready for the MCAT?


Let’s talk about what you need to now about registering for the Medical College Admission Test in 2017!


Firstly you’ll need to create your AAMC ID here!


Registration for test dates January through June 2017 are now OPEN!

In the chart below you’ll see the testing dates laid out with the corresponding registrations deadlines.



Registration Fees and The Zones

The different zones of registration refer to the amount of time you register before for your selected test date. The Gold Zone is a month or more prior to the exam date, Silver Zone is approximately 3-4 weeks before, and the Bronze Zone refers to signing up for an MCAT date 1-2 weeks out.

It is encouraged to register early within the Gold Zone because test centers and dates do fill up. Also if you do end up having to reschedule and cancel your MCAT exam you can receive a smaller cancellation fee and larger refund. Check it all out below…



Fee Assistance Program

The FAP provides financial assistance for the cost of MCAT registration and AMCAS submission fee. To learn more about FAP and to see if you’re eligible for assistance go here.


Retaking the MCAT? 

Check out our blog post about the AAMC rules and what to keep in mind about retaking here.


These are all just the highlights! You are off to a great start here so be sure to check out AAMC’s MCAT Essentials here for any further questions you may have!

Don’t forget to check out the blog for more things pre-med and on conquering the MCAT including test section breakdowns and study tips! Practice with MCAT Cracker to ace it!


Happy Registering!

Creating Your MCAT Study Guide!

Preparing for the Medical College Admission Test is a daunting undertaking and you need a proper plan of action to succeed! If you’ve been following along the blog for a bit the idea of creating your own personalized MCAT study guide has come up before so now let’s really get into it!


There are actually quite a few study guides and strategy suggestions floating around but unfortunately, like a lot of MCAT information, it’s likely wildly outdated! With the major overhaul of the MCAT in 2015 much of the advice and general thinking around how to study for the big test reflects the old exam. It would be better to create a personalized MCAT study guide that is catered to you anyway so let’s explore how to do that!


AAMC’s Suggestions

The 5-part guideline outlined by the American Association of Medical Colleges is a pretty good place to start and adding in the blog wisdom


  1. Understand – Know The Enemy

 Learn all the ins and outs of the MCAT! Check out this quick overview video from AAMC. Luckily there’s conveniently quite a few MCAT Cracker blog posts focusing on breaking down the test! Example: CARS Section Breakdown

  1. Establish – Know Where You Stand

 Run a MCAT Cracker diagnostics test to discover your starting point and find out where you stand with the material so you can best decide how to move forward!

  1. Study – Know Your Stuff

Personalize here! You know yourself best so set yourself up for success and get organized! Explore further with the blog posts we’ve covered in the past  MCAT Study Tips and MCAT Tools & Resources! Work smarter not harder.

  1. Practice – Practice Practice Practice

And Practice! Knowing the mountain of material is important but don’t underestimate the power of practice! Not only have we’ve been preaching the importance of practice here on the blog…MCAT Cracker  specialize in it! Did you know you can take practice exams focusing on a specific section? So if you’re less strong on one section you can focus on working on that!

  1. Simulate – Dress Rehearsal

Test day is a big day!

Gain some confidence and calm your nerves by going through test day like a practice run. This means wake up and prepare to take a full timed test and simulate the real thing at least once before real test day!

Check out the AAMC guide in full here.


You Do You.

By now throughout your many years of schooling you know what works best for you so don’t stray and stay true to what works. Basically you know you best and if that means studying in the early mornings versus late afternoon or visual tools instead of textual guides then no need to drastically change your all study habits just adapt and expand! Check out Wikihow’s guide to formatting a personalized guide for you here.


You now hold the keys to success in order to create your very own MCAT study guide to conquer the test! As you may have noticed we have covered a lot of these topics already so stay tuned for more MCAT and medical school insight around the blog 🙂

Happy Practicing!

The New MCAT: What The First Test Takers Are Saying!

CONGRATS to the first test takers of the new MCAT!

So what’s the verdict?


Was test day a complete unprepared fail? A complete crash and burn?…

plane crash


…or maybe a pleasantly surprised victory?

Were you like Bill and remembered all your science?

bill science



The word on the street aka Reddit and the SDN is that the test was hard.

Not so surprising there, we knew the test would be tough.

Score reports will be out very soon so we’ll see how the early test takers fared.



Here’s a small summary of the common comments from April test takers about the all-new MCAT:


  • Yikes: “By FAR the hardest, most exhausting exam in my entire life.”


  • A new focus on procedural interpretation of experimental data on top of content testing. Basically, you have to know your stuff and how to apply what you know.


  • The CARS section is generally the same.


  • Reading comprehension is heavily tested all throughout the exam.


  • Most people found less physics than expected and more bio/chem/biochem.


  • Biological section the hardest especially biochem questions


  • Data interpretation. Reading peer reviewed articles isn’t just good habit for med school but it seems like it’ll help greatly here too.


  • The Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior section featured a lot of unfamiliar terms and theories and it’s the understanding and application of these things that is imperative.


  • Practice. Practice. Especially with reading passages.



FYI: Registration for September test dates is now open! Go here to register.

 If these first reactions to the brand new MCAT concern/scare/worry /etc. you, study up buttercup! Practice with MCAT Cracker to get you ready for your test day!



MCAT 2015 Registration is Open!

The day has finally arrived! Drum roll please…

MCAT 2015 registration is officially open!

Are you excited?loki yes

 …Or completely freaking out? new girl freaking out


It’s here! The all-new MCAT rolls out in April & registration is opened for the April – June dates!


Go forth with your AAMC ID and register to conquer the MCAT here!


Remember there is the Fee Assistance Program to aid the cost of registration for the those who apply. For other concerns on MCAT registration like deadlines, reschedulings and cancellations see here.

Registration for the July – September test dates will be available in late April. Check out the full testing date calendar here.


For now here are three reasons to register for the MCAT 2015 early:

  • Preliminary percentile ranks will be sent to you about three weeks after testing meaning learn more about your scores earlier in the application process!
  • Med school will get your MCAT 2015 scores at the same time as the applicants that took the old MCAT since your scores will be added before the first round of verified applications are sent by AMCAS to medical schools in early July!
  • April test takers get a $150 Amazon Gift Card!


An official breakdown of the new monster exam can be found here and be sure to check out a breakdown of each of the sections in the blog!

Whether you’re registering now or waiting for a later date practice with MCAT Cracker to really get the edge over the new exam!


5 Awesome YouTube Channels for MCAT Studying!

Registration for the all-new big, bad MCAT 2015 opens soon (like next month soon) and while you’re tirelessly hitting the books studying sometimes a nice visual aide in the form of a YouTube video can be a nice break or even a new perspective for understanding a difficult concept!

While you cannot rely solely on YouTube for your MCAT prep, these videos can be fun while extremely informative and there are great videos out there!

So how about a fun post on a few great YouTube channels to check out for supplemental studying material?


Khan Academy

As previous mentioned before in the blog, the Association of American Medical Colleges (the makers of the MCAT) and Khan Academy worked together to create these video tutorials on a wide variety of MCAT subjects. With the brand-new sections in the MCAT 2015 these videos will be extra helpful! For example there’s a playlist on Social Inequality with this video on Intersectionality:



Everybody loves the Green brothers and they have great videos on a variety of topics from history to ecology! You should specifically check out their ones on chemistry, psychology, and biology like this awesome one on Why Carbon Is a Tramp:


Biology / Medicine Animations HD

Cool, detailed 3D animations to give additional visual understanding on tons of topics, like this video on Muscle Contraction:



Short and sweet mini-lessons! Great for quick but educational break!

Try out this one on the 5 Antibody Types:



Super fun and actually helpful lessons for MCAT studying but in song form!

Just as Barney the purple dinosaur once taught us about sharing and caring…

Mr. W sings and raps on subjects like Mitosis and Glycolysis below:


Happy Studying!

P.S. Right now on MCAT Cracker gain an edge on your MCAT for only $49, regularly $99! Get access to full-length practice exams here!


MCAT 2015 Tools & Resources

With the first round of the new MCAT just around the corner now let’s talk about the range of your study arsenal! A lot of MCAT resources out there are outdated and tailored for the old/current test rendering them to be of little real help for the MCAT 2015 beast! The word beast is not an understatement. This test isn’t just longer, it’s definitely harder:

jimmy fallon med school joke


AAMC MCAT 2015 Interactive Guide

The Association of American Medical College thankfully has laid everything out pretty clearly covering all the bases of the MCAT 2015. Using their interactive guide here you can explore explicitly stated tested material and even check out sample questions with explanations! The AAMC also sells a book guide to the test along with sample question for $35 here but with the MCAT 2015 costing $300 itself this guide is not totally necessary. Then there is their full-length practice test for $25 here.


Khan Academy Tutorial Videos

The AAMC with the Khan Academy has also released over 100 videos on numerous topics to be tested for free. Just by using your AAMC log in, you can access the video tutorials here.


Class Notes & Textbooks

These are your best tools for studying and reviewing and since you took tests for these classes already you know the best ways to study for you. Stick to these strategies when studying for the MCAT. The saying “treat it like a class” is real. Using the AAMC guide mentioned earlier as well a guide is the best thing you can really do. Since the material is laid out so well you can pin point areas for review. Commonly students tend to spend too much time reviewing material while spending not enough energy on practicing…


MCAT Cracker Is More Than You Think!

Speaking of practicing: with MCAT Cracker you take MCAT 2015 practice tests that simulate the look and feel of the new MCAT and that emulate the difficulty level of the real thing. To start you can log on to and take a free diagnostic test here to see where you stand and pin point your weaknesses.


MCAT Cracker also shares awesome videos giving an overview to each section. Check out the introductory MCAT 2015 video below and here’s the MCAT Cracker YouTube channel to watch all the videos.


Besides using MCAT Cracker for practical practice and advantageous tutorial videos, THIS BLOG is a treasure trove for an inside scoop on all things MCAT 2015! Be sure to check out our breakdown series where we talked about in length not only the new test itself but each of these new integrated sections! Shameless plug: There’s also great posts on study tips and study motivation! So thanks for tuning into the blog and stay tuned for more tips and tricks!

MCAT 2015 Study Tips!

The big, bad MCAT 2015 has got some pre-meds running for the hills, no really. The drastic changes to the Medical College Admission Test are looming and many students are going to great lengths to avoid the new MCAT 2015 before it rolls out in April. Testing centers are all booked up before April and desperate times call for desperate measures including travelling far and wide for available seats. Check out CommonHealth’s awesome article on pre-meds stressing the changes here.


…but that’s not you. You brave soldier, are taking on the MCAT 2015 beast.

In case you missed it, MCAT Cracker posted a few study pointers (pictured below) for preparing the MCAT 2015 on Facebook so let’s expand on that list now, shall we? P.S. If you don’t already, go ‘Like’ MCAT Cracker on Facebook right here and now. After scouring the pre-med forums and developing tips specifically for the MCAT 2015, here is a carefully selected best of the best compilation of MCAT study tips!

MCAT Pointers

Give Yourself 3 to 6 Months of Preparation

This is a big test to say the very least with an immense mountain of material to get through. This isn’t a test you will be cramming for. Brightside is you’ve already been preparing with all the hard work you’ve sure to have done in your classes. So now is the time to prove it. Now all you have to do is prepare for an extremely long exam that tests on all your classes ever in a highly integrated and all encompassing manner. Yeah, not easy so give yourself at 3 months!


Set Aside Time Everyday To Study

The tried and true saying of “treat it like a class” is not to be taken lightly you need to be setting out time everyday to study. With your real life (school/work/etc.) it’s understandable if you can’t marathon big block time of like 8-10 hours of study time everyday but you should be doing something each day. You must make the most of your time and focus, sticking strictly to the 50/10 rule! That’s 50 minutes study time and 10 minute break time.


Take Several Online Practice Exams

Practice, practice, practice. The endurance and stamina needed just to get through test day is going to take some getting used to. Practice tests like with MCAT Cracker are not only helpful with in content tested but also in getting used to computer testing and exposing you to the time needed for your brain to last through the whole exam.


Make Your Own Study Guide

Through your college life thus far you know how you best work and study so why not create your own study guide. You do you. Stick to what works just do it on a grander MCAT 2015 sized scale. Sitting down and laying out a plan and stick to it. Many of the guides and study schedules out on internet are designed for the old MCAT anyway so take the opportunity to personalize it for you. When creating a study schedule make sure to have a review day perhaps once a week.


Tutor Subjects Covered On The MCAT

Once you’ve figured out the subjects you need extra help on tackle them! With the MCAT Cracker diagnostic tests you can pin point specific areas in each section that you’re weakest in. This is not to say, “Well I’m a bio major so I can totes ignore the bio section and focus on the others”, that’s the worst. Sharpen your strengths and strengthen your weaknesses. This is the MCAT. You gotta do it all.



Take Classes In New Sections Like Sociology or Psychology

The new sections of the MCAT are the scary additions to the exam that have people stressing the most. Be mindful that these aren’t just new sections being added to the test but that all the sections have got an integration emphasis on them. But you’re not stressing. Look at you reading this blog and possibly even using MCAT Cracker already? You got this. Maybe you’re taking the new MCAT in the summer so you’re signed up to take a psych class in the spring semester? Because that would wicked smart. Either way if you are planning to take the MCAT 2015 there’s time to sharpen your knowledge in these subjects.


Well there they are now go forth and conquer! Be sure to check out other blog post on the changes of the exam and even breakdowns of each section. Plus get your practice on with MCAT Cracker. Got any other MCAT 2015 study tips to add to the list? Share with the class in the comments!

MCAT 2015 Breakdown: Introduction Guide to the All-New MCAT!

Starting in April 2015 the completely revamped Medical College Admission Test rolls out and to put it simply: IT’S A LOT!

In case you’ve missed it, here on the blog we’ve discussed the changes in the MCAT 2015 and even had a series of posts breaking down each individual section of the MCAT 2015 so check them out!

Consider this post a bonus round of breakdowns for a look at the all-new MCAT as a whole!


Why the big changes?

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) really out did themselves crafting this new exam! The changes reflect a shift of focus on a more holistic approach to medical education and testing how students can apply their all their knowledge to the medical field. In addition to testing on the application of the natural sciences there is now a section on the social behavioral sciences highlighting the importance of sociocultural and psychological expertise integration needed in today’s diverse healthcare world.


Registering for the MCAT 2015

You can start registering the new test starting in February 2015!

Fun fact: To encourage examinees to be the first to take the new exam, AAMC will provide April 2015 examinees with a $150.00 gift card. FAP (more on FAP below) recipients who take the exam in April of 2015 will receive a $60.00 gift card.


$ Cost of Taking the MCAT 2015 $

The test is a bit pricier than it’s predecessor at $300 (up from $275). This is to make up for the fact that this MCAT is longer with more questions in each section and longer in actual test time.

Keep in mind the AAMC will continue to offer the Fee Assistance Program (FAP) to help student who may need financial assistance. Those who qualify for FAP benefits will be charged a reduced registration fee of $115 so be on the look out for that and apply asap!


What’s on the MCAT 2015?

On the new MCAT there will be 4 big broad sections (remember there are individual breakdown post on each):

  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems, 59 Questions & 95 minutes
  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems, 59 Questions & 95 minutes
  • Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior, 59 Questions & 95 minutes
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills, 53 Questions & 90 minutes

Overall the AAMC have slated 10 Foundational Concepts and 4 Skills within the sections that they are testing you on. These concepts and skills reach across all the courses you’ve taken and really stretch your knowledge to the limit! Each of the Foundational Concepts are broken down further into Content Categories for further detailed clarification on the subjects. The test makers here are really thorough! Learn about each section, concept, content category and skill with the AAMC’s  tour of the exam here.


How long is it?!

Get ready for this. Ready? It’s a marathon with total testing time is 6 hours and 15 minutes! But counting everything including the tutorial, breaks, and check-in procedures, test day clocks in at around 8 hours! Time breakdown below:

MCAT 2015 Breakdown


Scoring the MCAT 2015

You will receive 5 scores, that’s one for each of the four sections and one total score! Each section’s score ranges from a low 118 to the high of 132 with the midpoint for each being 125. Thus the total score range is from 472 to 528 with a midpoint of 500. That’s a little confusing to conceptualize so check out the AAMC’s graphic below:

Scoring the MCAT 2015


This all is really an outlined introduction to everything MCAT 2015 (it’s huge). See everything the AAMC’s has got to say on the test here and be sure take a gander at the FAQs here. Remember that with this major overhaul of the MCAT a lot of resources available out there are now outdated and won’t be the right in preparing for MCAT 2015. MCAT Cracker has it down though and you can PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE to gain the edge over this new beast.