What to Bring to MCAT Test Day

posted by Memm

As MCAT test day nears, we’re sure you have a lot on your mind. You’re likely deep into your studies, reviewing flashcards, and taking practice exams. But with all this on your mind, you must also set aside some time to familiarize yourself with what to bring to MCAT test day.

The MCAT test has very specific requirements around what is and isn’t allowed within the testing room—hint: it’s very little. You will, however, be able to access some personal items during your breaks when you’re able to rehydrate and replenish yourself. Continue reading to learn what you need to bring to the MCAT and what we recommend you pack to help the day go smoothly.

When you’re done here, save our MCAT Study Guide, which covers how the MCAT is scored, 7 MCAT study strategies, resources, FAQs, and more.

What to Bring to MCAT Test Day

1 | Valid Identification

The most important thing to remember on MCAT test day is your ID. You must present identification when you arrive, and that identification must meet certain criteria set by AAMC. 

New forms of identification can take a long time to acquire if you don’t already have something that’s valid. Check well in advance of your test to ensure you have a valid ID that meets the requirements for the MCAT. If you don’t, get on top of this right away because it could take a while for your new identification to arrive. 

Don’t forget to check the expiry date on your ID as well. Will it still be valid by the time you take your MCAT test?

AAMC says valid identification must meet the following conditions:

  • The ID was issued by a government agency
  • The ID’s expiration date is printed on the ID and is not extended by a sticker or similar mechanism       
  • Your ID must not be expired
    • If your ID will expire before your scheduled test date, you’re responsible for obtaining an updated ID prior to your exam. Account for the processing time of government agencies when selecting an exam date.        
  • The ID contains a photo that can be used to positively identify you   
  • The ID is tangible and whole, with no evidence of tampering (clipped corners, holes, etc.)
  • The ID is in English

Some forms of identification that work for the MCAT (so long as the ID meets the above requirements) include a state driver’s license, passport, passport card, permanent resident card, or employment authorization document.

Do not leave your home on MCAT test day without double, triple, and quadruple checking that you have your ID on you. Better yet, if you have multiple ID options that fit these requirements, bring more than one just in case. 

Before you leave your house, check to make sure you have your ID with you. When you get to your car, make sure you still have your ID on you. Before you walk into the testing center, make sure you have your ID. You get the idea—ensuring you have valid identification on MCAT test day is an absolute must.

2 | Food and Water

During your breaks, you are only permitted access to food, water, and medication. Take advantage of these opportunities to rehydrate and replenish yourself.

Bring plenty of water or other beverages that will keep you hydrated, as well as a variety of healthy snacks. You may want to bring a small lunch, such as a simple sandwich.

Keep your food choices simple, but bring extra just in case. You’ll be working your brain hard for several hours, and that’s going to build up your appetite. Ideal foods include sandwiches, nuts, granola bars, bananas, and berries.

Light, healthy foods are best, but at the same time, don’t bring something you aren’t used to or haven’t tried before. MCAT test day is not the time to experiment. Ideally, you’ve already been fueling your brain with healthy foods that aid your focus in the study months leading up to the MCAT. But if you haven’t adjusted your diet already, testing day is not the time for a change.

What to Eat on MCAT Test Day

  • Choose a filling but not overly heavy breakfast. We recommend protein and starchy foods with a low glycemic index, such as eggs, salmon, oatmeal, or whole wheat toast.
  • Healthy, light snacks, such as nuts, berries, granola bars, jerky, or bananas.
  • A small lunch, such as a light sandwich, wrap, or salad. Keep things simple. Bring extra snacks in case you decide to stick to snacks instead of digging into your lunch. Trust in your own body. You can gather endless advice, but what matters most is that you are comfortable and in the right headspace.

3 | Leave Extra Items at Home

It’s best to leave any unneeded items at home. You won’t be able to access them anyway, and they will just become potential distractions that may lead to a violation of testing day procedures. 

Since you won’t be able to access your cell phone or any electronic devices, you may choose to leave them at home or locked securely in your vehicle.

Aside from the previously outlined required items, including your ID, food, and water, we recommend bringing as few items as possible. Any personal items, including jewelry and watches, must be removed before entering the test, so it’s best not to bring them with you at all. Everything on you will be examined, and any unnecessary items must be stowed in the secure storage area provided by the testing center. You will even need to turn out your pockets, so check that they are empty before you arrive.

What to Wear on MCAT Test Day

  • Choose clothing you are comfortable in. It’s a long test, and you’ll want your attention focused exclusively on the exam, not on what you’re wearing.
  • Test your clothing in advance to ensure you are able to sit comfortably for long stretches of time. 
  • Avoid unnecessary accessories, such as jewelry and watches, since they will not be allowed in the testing room. 

What’s Allowed in the Testing Room?

Very little is allowed in the actual MCAT testing room, and nearly everything you’re allowed to have with you is provided by the testing center. 

Your belongings, including jackets, smartphones, smartwatches, snacks, lunch, and water, will be safely locked away outside of the testing room. 

The following items are the only things allowed with you once you enter the testing room: 

  • Photo Identification
  • Center-provided noteboard and marker
  • Center-provided storage key
  • Center-provided foam, wireless earplugs

Eyeglasses are permitted, but they are subject to visual and physical inspection by test administrators.

There are exceptions for personal items you require for medical reasons, such as if you have diabetes or require accommodation for a physical disability. You must apply for these accommodations in advance by submitting an application and personal statement describing your personal needs or limitations.

Learn more about how to submit an application for an MCAT accommodation.

What’s Allowed During Breaks?

The MCAT takes 7.5 hours, including breaks. Each section is broken up by an optional break between 10 and 30 minutes long.

  • Chem/Phys: 95 minutes
  • Optional break: 10 minutes
  • CARS: 90 minutes
  • Optional lunch break: 30 minutes
  • Bio/BioChem: 95 minutes
  • Optional break: 10 minutes
  • Psych/Soc: 95 minutes

Learn more: How Long Does the MCAT Take in 2022? With and Without Breaks.

During your breaks, you will be allowed to access your personal belongings. At this time, you are only permitted access to food, water, and medication.

Under no circumstances will you be allowed to access your phone or any other electronic devices. These devices must be stored in a sealed bag that will be given to you by the testing center. The bag must remain closed until the test administrator opens it after the completion of your exam. 

Do not try to access your cell phone for any reason during your breaks. Better yet, leave it at home—even touching an electronic device is a violation of MCAT policies. 

When you need to access food, water, or medication, clearly remove the item from your bag. Any bag you have with you must remain in the provided storage and cannot be taken with you while you have your break or lunch. 

Learn more about the Items Allowed During Exam Breaks

Arrive Prepared and at Ease

Adequate preparation and smart study strategies will help ease your nerves on test day. In addition to all of the content you must cover for the four sections of the MCAT, ensure you review test day policies and familiarize yourself with the format of the test. The fewer surprises, the better.

We have plenty of other guides and resources available on the MSI website, including Test Day Strategies, How to Overcome MCAT Test Anxiety, and 13  MCAT Stress Relief Techniques.

Memm helps remove some of the stress of studying for the MCAT. Memm is a resource that will help you organize your studying by providing a schedule that adapts as you go, so you can take those much-needed breaks without worrying about ruining your schedule. Don’t waste time sorting through low-yield fluff—Memm’s pre-made flashcards only include the most high-yield information. 

Last edited on: June 08, 2022

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