MCAT Essay part

I’m pretty nervous about the MCAT essay part. Although I graduated from a foreign university nine years ago, I am able to speak English well. I spent more than half of my life here in the US. (I came here when I was ten.) A few years ago, I took the CLEP for English 1 and 2, and passed. I only did this so I can get credits and save some time and money. Since I haven’t taken any English classes in this country, I am a little worried that this might affect my ability to write the essays…especially if it’s timed.

So I am wondering if I should re-take some English classes. Or should I just practice writing essays and have someone or myself proofread it? Any tips or advice?


Since you Clep’d out of the basic English classes that you need, I don’t see a need to retake those classes; however, some universities have advanced composition classes which may be of help to you.

Personally what I would suggest is that you look at some of the sample MCATs and do one of their essays following their directions. Once completed, see if you can have someone view it to see if you pretty much followed the directions required. Maybe you have someone that can read it over for you?

Even though it isn’t weighed as heavy as the other three sections, you do want to strive for at least an average grade which is, I believe, a “P” or a “Q”.

Thanks Kriss! That’s great advice!


The essay doesn’t have to be written in Shakesperean English! All they want from you is to follow the direction, and to write clearly.

I do remeber from my Kaplan class, that some essays that we discussed, got the highest score, although they were written in a very simple language, used very unsophisticated vocabulary, and weren’t necessary very well thought through.

Again - as long as you follow the format they ask for, and don’t make to many typos and/or grammar mistakes, you should be fine.


Opal, I read your post very, very carefully. I have worked as an editor full time for the last seven years. You did not make a single error in English spelling, grammar, syntax, or usage. Your writing is therefore better than 90% of native-born Americans-- just take a surf around online if you don’t believe me.

The MCAT essay format is really strange, however, so by all means practice with a clock and have a picky friend or MCAT verbal prep class teacher critique your performance.

Guys, I appreciate all of your responses. (I love this site!) Now my next question is…would it be beneficial to read articles from newspapers or magazines? Is there anything you guys recommend? I guess another concern would be my lack of knowledge of the topic that would be given in the essay.

The essays’s topics are very general, which means that you don’t have to possess any specific knowledge on those topics. You will be required to write a short essay (a kind of a ‘for-and-against-essay’) on topics like: grading system, obligatory military service, capital punishment, public service, travelling educates, money spoils and so on… Of course some of these topics will be more familiar to you than the others, but you still should know enough about any of them to be able to write a short essay. The most important part in this part is to follow the direction. Therefore I think that the best preparation, except from timed writing practice, is reading sample MCAT essays and their critiques. Many MCAT preparation courses, even those that can be bought in bookstores, contain section on how to write an essay.