So you’ve decided to take the MCAT. Feeling a little bit nervous?
It may make you feel better knowing that over 60,000 students per year take the test, so you’re not alone.
Today we are going to talk about something that may seem silly at first, but has no doubt taken a few students by surprise when they arrived on test day.
That something is valid forms of identification.
I’ll bet you weren’t expecting that, were you?
Before you are even allowed to enter the room and sit for the exam, you must present valid identification that matches your MCAT registration form exactly. Let me repeat that again, it must match EXACTLY.
We will also be touching briefly on the three different “zones” during which an applicant can apply to take the exam. So, get your notepad out and prepare for an inside scoop of the MCAT, and common mistakes that you can avoid.
Valid MCAT ID
Now then, presenting a valid form of identification at check in on test day seems easy enough, right?
For most that is the case, but for some that go by nicknames or shortened versions, it can lead to admittance issues and a delay their testing date.
Firstly, let’s go over the conditions that must be met by your chosen form of identification for the MCAT exam, which I have listed below as per AAMC:
- Be current (cannot be expired)
- Issued by a government agency
- Include a photo that can be used to identify you
- Include your signature, which you will be asked to duplicate on test day
- Have no evidence of tampering (ex. Holes or clipped corners)
Invalid MCAT Identification
Secondly, let’s discuss the forms of identification that will NOT be accepted at the testing center.
Pay close attention and even take notes if need be.
The following guidelines are also taken from AAMC:
- Temporary IDs, paper IDs, IDs with extension stickers, or ID application receipts
- Virtual IDs, Employee IDs, School IDs
- Library cards
- Any ID that does not fulfill the above mentioned requirements, even if issued by a government-issued sponsor
It’s important to know that the name you use when filling out the MCAT registration form MUST match the name on your chosen identification.
For example, if you are going to use your driver's license and your name appears as “Jonathan Smith”, that’s how your name has to appear on your registration form.
It doesn’t matter if you go by Johnny or John, you have to list your name exactly as it appears on your chosen form of identification - no high school nicknames either.
Often times, students disregard or pay little attention to these otherwise obvious requirements and end up dealing with a less than ideal testing day experience.
The last thing that you want to spoil your “I’ve got this handled” mindset is something as simple as a valid form of identification.
The two easiest IDs that will meet all of these requirements will be either your driver’s license, or your passport. (Hint: write that last sentence down)
Have your acceptable form of ID in mind?
Great, let’s talk about the different time “zones” in which you can apply, also listed by AAMC.
The three different zones are gold, silver, and bronze - similar to the Olympics right?
These are designed to encourage students to register early, and avoid paying higher fees if the decision to sit for the exam is made closer to the actual testing date.
The Gold Zone and most lenient, counts as anything one month or more prior to the exam.
The Silver Zone counts as weeks three and four prior to the exam, while the Bronze Zone is really cutting it down to the wire, counting as weeks one and two prior to the exam.
In the event that you are unable to provide the proper identification, or you feel there will be an issue on exam day with your form of identification, it is imperative that you contact the MCAT Resource Center at the following number: (202) 828-0690.
If you have even the slightest doubt that not everything will go smoothly on test day, give them a call for your own sake and sanity.
This must be done no later than the Silver Zone deadline.
To sum everything up, let’s recap what we’ve gone over in this article.
The more something appears to be “common sense”, the more likely you are to overlook it.
Keep in mind and take note of the most common forms of acceptable identification, as well as the restrictions.
Pay close attention when filling out your MCAT exam form to be sure that your name appears EXACTLY as it does on your form of identification.
Also, and as a piece of advice that can apply to almost anything in academic life, apply early!
You’ve studied hard and put in more than enough hours to prepare for this behemoth of an exam - do yourself a favor and prepare for the small things in advance.