How Long is the MCAT?

The MCAT, commonly referred to as the longest standardized test for graduate admissions, is approximately 7 hours and 30 minutes long including the time for optional breaks (total content time is approximately 6 hours and 15 minutes). This length is often no surprise to students once they dive into reviewing the vast amount of content that the MCAT tests. According to, the breakdown of the exam is as follows:

Step Optional? Length
Tutorial YES 10 minutes
Section 1: Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems 95 minutes
Break YES 10 minutes
Section 2: Critical Analysis and Reading Skills 90 minutes
Mid-exam/lunch break YES 30 minutes
Section 3: Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Behavior 95 minutes
Break YES 10 minutes
Section 4: Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior 95 minutes
Void question 5 minutes
Satisfaction survey YES 5 minutes

As you can see from the information in the chart above, the exam has three optional break sections, two which are 10 minutes long and one which is 30 minutes long. During these breaks, you are not allowed to leave the testing center, access any electronic devices, or look through your notes. Most test-takers take advantage of these breaks, using them as a time to “reset” so they can mentally prepare for the next section.

It is also important to note that the order of the sections is always the same. Unlike other standardized tests, on the MCAT, you cannot choose the order of the material that you are tested on.

While the MCAT exam lasts a total of approximately 7 hours and 30 minutes, in reality, it is more of a full day activity. Depending on what time you wake up, how long it takes you to get ready, and how far away you live from the testing center, and the time it takes to check in once you arrive, test day can easily become a 10+ hour endeavor. This means that your routine before you even begin the exam must be as planned out as possible to avoid any potential mishaps or late arrivals.