Preparing for the MCAT is a daunting task for any eager university student. There is so much material to cover and memorize in a relatively short period of time.  There are a plethora of online resources and course materials that can help you prepare for the substantive pieces of the test, but I wanted to give all of you future doctors out there a quick list of everything you’ll need to know (from a logistical standpoint) for the big test day.  And in case you’re wondering, the doctor in the picture above is my sister, Muneera Kapadia. She is a colorectal surgeon at the University of Iowa who took the MCAT some years ago.

Security

When you show up at the test center, it is required that you bring a valid piece of identification. The first and last name on your ID must exactly match the name in your MCAT registration. Middle names and initials are not required for the MCAT, so it is okay if they appear on your ID but not on your registration materials.

An acceptable ID must be current (i.e. cannot be passed the expiration date), issued by a government agency, include a photo of you, include your signature (you will be asked to duplicate it on the test date), and be whole (i.e. there must not be any evidence of tampering, such as clipped corners or punched holes).  There are a few forms of identification that the test center administrator will not accept. These include, but are not limited to, the following: temporary IDs, paper IDs, virtual IDs, employee IDs, school IDs, and any ID that does not fulfill the requirements mentioned above.  When you sign in at the test center, you must present valid ID, have your fingerprints digitally collected, and have a test-day photograph taken.

Location and time

Confirm the date and time of your test day (including local timezone and daylight savings time) so you can be sure that you are showing up at the right time. You should aim to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to your exam time. By being extra punctual, you can be certain that you will be on time even if some last minute delays occur. You should also confirm the current address of your testing center. There is nothing worse than showing up to the wrong place after many months of preparation.

Items allowed in the testing room

When taking the test, you are allowed to have your photo identification and foam earplugs in an unopened container. If you do bring earplugs, they must be presented to the test center administrator for inspection. You will not be allowed to bring your own scratch paper or pencils; the testing center will provide you with both. The testing center will also provide you with a storage space and key for you to keep all of your belongings. If you require an item for a medical condition (i.e. food, drink, insulin pump, crutches, etc.), you can apply for these special accommodations.

Items allowed during exam breaks

During your scheduled breaks, you will have access to food, water, and medication. You cannot leave the testing center or access any notes. You are prohibited from using your cell phone or any other electronic device. Holding or touching an electronic device is considered a violation of MCAT policies and is grounds for immediate dismissal. One important thing to note is that your bag must remain in the provided storage at all times. Accordingly, if you want to access food, water, or medication during your breaks, you should remove the items from your bag when you arrive.

For more information, please go to the American Association of Medical Colleges’ website. Good luck!