Have you considered your MCAT pacing strategy? A plan for managing your time during each section  of the test will keep you calm and help you work more methodically.

Stack of prep books for practicing MCAT time managemement strategies

Since the MCAT is a timed test, you should keep an eye on the timer and adjust your pacing as necessary. It would be terrible to run out of time at the end only to discover that the last few questions could have been easily answered in just a few seconds each.

Time Per Question

Most questions on the MCAT (44 in the science sections, all 53 in the CARS section) are passage-based. The science sections have 10 passages each and the CARS section has 9. 

In the science sections you will have about 1 minute 35 seconds per question, and in the CARS section you will have about 1 minute 40 seconds per question. Don't forget you'll have to spend some time reading the passage before answering the questions.

Section# of Questions in passageApproximate time (including reading the passage)
Chem/Phys, Bio/Biochem, and Psych/Soc 4 6.5 minutes
5 8 minutes
6 9.5 minutes
CARS 5 8.5 minutes
6 10 minutes
7 11.5 minutes

Science Pacing Strategy: Watch the Timer

When starting a passage:

  • Make note of how much time you will allot for it and the starting time on the timer.
  • Jot down on your scratch paper what the timer should say at the end of the passage.
  • Keep an eye on the timer as you work through the questions.

When running out of time for a passage:

  • Guess on any remaining questions.
  • Make some notes on your scratch paper.
  • Mark the questions, and move on.
  • Come back to those questions if you have time.

CARS Pacing Strategy: Guess For 1 Passage

You do not necessarily need to complete all nine passages to get a competitive score on MCAT CARS. Many people will maximize their score by randomly guessing on at least one passage and focusing on getting a high percentage of the rest of the questions correct.

Also, keep in mind that there is no guessing penalty. Never leave a question blank. Even with a random guess, you have a 25 percent chance of getting those questions right.

To complete all nine CARS passages, you have about ten minutes per passage. To complete eight of the nine, you have about 11 minutes per passage.

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