Let’s face it, your MCAT test date is a big ordeal. It’s like running a marathon. You study/train for months and then finally you arrive at the testing facility and push through a 7-hour exam.
Unfortunately, the big day is hardly ever perfect. Things tend to not go as planned.
Traffic might be worse than expected. You’re hit with a heatwave. The testing center’s AC just happens to be running a bit sluggish that day.
We must deal with the unexpected, but we can be as prepared as possible. One important thing to consider: What should you wear to the MCAT?
Seems like a silly question, but it really isn’t. You’ll be sitting for 7 hours taking an intense exam. The last thing you want is to feel uncomfortable due to your clothing choices.
First, let’s go over the rules.
What Are You Allowed To Wear To The MCAT?
Really you can wear whatever you want to the MCAT except for a few specific items.
Here is what you are not allowed to wear (From the AAMC’s website):
“No personal items, including but not limited to mobile phones, hand-held computers/personal digital assistants (PDAs) or other electronic devices, pagers, watches, wallets, purses, hats (and other non-religious head coverings), bags, coats, jackets, eyeglass cases, books, and/or notes, pens, or pencils are allowed in the testing room. No barrettes or hair clips that are larger than 1/4 inch (1/2 centimeter) wide and headbands or hairbands that are larger than 1/2 inch (1 centimeter) wide are allowed in the testing room. No jewelry that is removable and larger than 1/4 inch (1/2 centimeter) wide is allowed in the testing room. No firearms or other weapons are allowed in the test center. “
The restricted items are pretty obvious except for the jacket. Some premeds end bring jackets and end up having to leave them in their locker.
Can You Wear A Hoodie During The MCAT?
This really depends on the testing center.
Some centers will ask you to take it off. I have heard of a case where someone was asked to take off their hoodie but they had nothing underneath. The proctor allowed them to wear their hoodie but instructed them not to put their hood up.
Other testing centers won’t care at all. It’s really luck of the draw.
To be safe, it is better to bring a sweater without a hoodie.
Can I Wear A Hat During The MCAT?
Again, this is at the discretion of the testing center, but from my experience, it is not allowed. Several other students also confirmed they were not allowed to wear hats, even winter hats.
If you really want to wear a hat, you could call your testing center beforehand and ask. But like I said, it is unlikely.
What Do Most Premeds Wear To The MCAT? (Survey)
The general consensus is premed students recommend wearing something comfortable like sweat pants, jeans, or leggings for the bottoms. As for the top, t-shirts with sweaters were the most common recommendation. Avoid tight-fitting clothes that will make you feel uncomfortable.
The key is layers. You want to wear a t-shirt under your sweater to take off the sweater when you’re too warm and put it back on if the AC starts blasting.
The most common footwear was sneakers/tennis shoes. Emphasis on comfort.
Also, it was recommended that when possible wear clothing without pockets. The examiners check your pockets to make sure you aren’t sneaking stuff in. Not having things in your pockets makes it more convenient when checking into and out of the testing center.
Here is a list of clothing items that other students said they wore (from most popular to least):
- Hoodie (Some facilities will not allow hoodies. These require extra search when entering into and out of the testing area so keep that in mind)
- Jacket (Some facilities will not allow jackets into the testing center)
- Long sleeve jersey
- Sweat pants
- Tennis shoes
Testing Room Temperature
This is going to vary depending on where you live and the testing center. I would be prepared for a particularly cold or hot testing room.
For me, I have taken the MCAT in a seat with the AC blowing on me the whole time. Another time I was sitting somewhere that felt stuffy and hot.
Make sure you have layers that can come on and off.
From what other students reported, however, it’s more often cold than hot. Think of your basic office setting with the AC always running. This combined with testing nerves can make you feel a bit jittery.
Other Tips From MCAT Test Takers
Here are some other tips from MCAT test-takers in regards to what you should wear to the exam:
- Try to wear something without pockets. The examiners check your pockets to make sure you aren’t sneaking stuff in. Not having things in your pockets makes it more convenient when checking into and out of the testing center.
- Hair ties and scrunchies are sometimes asked to be removed. This can add time to your check-in process as well. If you keep your hair tie on your wrist, some places might make you leave that behind in your locker.
- If you take your sweater off during the exam, leave that sweater in the exam room. Again this will make the check-in process quicker when you come back in.