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MCAT and Admissions Overview for Duke-NUS (2024)

MCAT Overview for Duke-NUS


Mar 19, 2024

This guide is designed to help pre-med students skillfully prepare for and ace the MCAT with the ultimate goal of admission to Duke-NUS.

What is the MCAT?

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a computer-based standadised exam developed by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) that is required by most medical schools in the US, Canada, Caribbean countries, and Australia. In Singapore, it is required by Duke-NUS, which offers the only graduate medicine programme. 

It comprises the following four sections:

  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems (Chem/Phys)
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS)
  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems (Bio/Biochem)
  • Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior (Psych/Soc)

How is the MCAT scored?

Each of the four MCAT sections is scored between 118-132, yielding a total score between 472 and 528. The mean (i.e., 50th percentile) MCAT score tends to fall between 500-502, and the average score among matriculants to allopathic (i.eMD programs) is typically around 511 or 512.

Collectively, your GPA and MCAT make up your “stats” or “numbers” when applying to med schools, and your stats are evaluated alongside your extracurricular activities, letters of recommendation, and application essays (e.g., personal statement) when making admission decisions.

Preparing for the MCAT

You can think of the MCAT as your doctorate audition. How you prepare and perform serves as a litmus test for your future as a medical professional. Here's how to best prepare for the MCAT:

MCAT Study Tips and Resources

When it comes to MCAT preparation, quality resources and effective study techniques will be the most important.

From review books, flashcards, and online question banks to private tutoring and prep courses, the resources are vast and varied. Adapting to different learning styles, these aids are specifically designed to cater to the multifaceted nature of the MCAT, which assesses not just expertise but also problem-solving skills and critical thinking.

  • Resource Selection: Choose resources that are well-renowned and have proven track records. Look for those that cover all sections of the test in-depth.
  • Regular Study Sessions: Establish a routine and stick to it. Consistent study sessions, even if they are shorter, are more effective than sporadic, lengthy ones.
  • Active Learning: Engage with the material actively. Teach the concepts to an imaginary student or group, work with a study partner to explain ideas, or participate in a study group.
  • Routine Breaks: Incorporate regular breaks into your study sessions to maintain focus and avoid burnout.

Time Management Strategies

Time is a significant constraint in your MCAT preparation. A sound strategy to manage your time can be the difference between covering all subjects and being versed only in partial knowledge.

Practice Tests and Review Materials

"Practice makes perfect" rings particularly true for the MCAT. It is critical to be familiar with the format and question styles of the test. Practice tests are a form of controlled exposure therapy that can significantly reduce test anxiety and improve your endurance.

  • Staying Flexible: Use a variety of practice tests from different sources to get a more comprehensive view.
  • Analysing Mistakes: After every test, spend time analysing the correct answers and understanding why you got certain questions wrong. This process will inform your study plan.
  • Repetition: Don't just take a practice test once. Repeat them to ensure solid retention and understanding of the material.
  • Review Consistently: Use review materials strategically. Focus on high-yield topics that appear often on the exam and those that pose the greatest difficulty to you.

Understanding Duke-NUS Requirements

Before you even sit for the MCAT, it's crucial to understand what score you're aiming for. Here's how Duke-NUS looks at MCAT scores in their admissions process.

MCAT Score Expectations

Duke-NUS does not specify a minimum MCAT score required for admission; however, they do have an average for each entering class. Aim to score within the range of the 95th percentile or higher to be competitive.

  • Section Scores: While the overall MCAT score is essential, be mindful of individual section scores. It's advantageous to have a balanced score across all sections.
  • Percentile Rank: Understand the percentile rank of your scores. If they do not match or exceed the 95th percentile, consider a retake.
  • Previous Admission Averages: Research the average MCAT scores of previous Duke-NUS admitted students for a benchmark.

Want to find out more about getting into Duke-NUS? 

Read our blog

Other Admission Criteria

The MCAT is just one part of your application to Duke-NUS. Your academic performance, leadership, research experience, and interpersonal skills also weigh heavily in the scale.

  • Academic Achievement: A high GPA in a relevant science degree is non-negotiable.
  • Extracurricular Involvement: Demonstrate a commitment to community service and leadership roles.
  • Research Experience: Engaging in medical research can boost your application and give you a talking point during interviews.
  • Personal Statement: Your story and passion for medicine must shine through in your personal statement. Take the time to craft a compelling narrative.

Reaching your MCAT score goal is a marathon, not a sprint. Here are strategies to help you pace yourself and maintain motivation:

Balancing Study and Other Commitments

Balancing the demands of MCAT study with life's other obligations is an art form. It requires careful planning and an understanding support network.

  • Open Communication: Share your study plan with friends, family, and colleagues. Open communication can help manage expectations and enlist their support and also hold you accountable. 
  • Prioritisation: Understand that preparation for the MCAT might need to take a temporary front seat to other activities. Make informed choices about which commitments to prioritise. Do you  have time to study for the MCAT and also work on your academic portfolio? 
  • Healthy Boundaries: Be firm about your needs and the time you require for study. This may mean saying no to certain social events or responsibilities.

Effective Study Schedules

A well-structured study schedule can help transform overwhelming goals into manageable tasks.

  • Weekly Planning: Plan your study schedule week by week, allowing for flexibility to adjust to changes in your life.
  • Use of Calendars and Planners: Visual tools can be remarkably effective in staying organized. Use a calendar or planner to block out dedicated study time.
  • Accountability: Share your schedule with a study partner or mentor who can hold you accountable for sticking to it.

Test-Taking Strategies

Exam day is not the time to experiment with new strategies; all that groundwork will pay off if you have a set plan for the MCAT itself.

  • Reading Comprehension Strategies: Develop a system for reading and digesting passages quickly and accurately.
  • Question Tackling: Have a strategy for tackling questions you don't know. This may involve processes of elimination or guessing.
  • Prioritisation: Know which questions to prioritize and which you may need to come back to later. Don't get stuck on a single question.

Application Process Tips

Your performance on the MCAT is just a small part of the holistic application process to Duke-NUS. Here are strategies to bolster your application in other areas.

Completing the Application

The application is your first chance to make an impression on Duke-NUS's admissions committee. Ensure it reflects your personality and strengths effectively.

  • Submit Early: Early applications are looked upon favorably. Aim to submit your application as soon as it opens.
  • Referee Selection: Choose referees who know you well and can speak to your character and readiness for medical school.
  • Transcripts: Ensure that your academic transcripts are in order and accurately represent your achievements.

Personal Statement Guidance

Your personal statement is an important part of the Duke-NUS application process. Make it count with these tips:

  • Tell a Story: Use the space to tell a compelling story about your passion for medicine and the experiences that have led you to that path.
  • Show, Don't Tell: Use concrete examples and scenarios to demonstrate your commitment to medicine instead of just stating it.
  • Reflect on Challenges: Share how you've navigated challenges and what you've learned from those experiences.

Interview Preparation

If your MCAT scores and application are successful, the interview is the last hurdle. Here are tips to prepare for a Duke-NUS interview:

  • Mock Interviews: Practice with a mentor or career counselor to get comfortable with interview questions and format.
  • Research the School: Know Duke-NUS inside and out. Understand their mission, values, and any recent developments.
  • Relax: While easier said than done, try to stay calm and be yourself during the interview. The admissions committee wants to get to know the real you.


The path to medical school at Duke-NUS is both challenging and rewarding. Your performance on the MCAT is an integral part of that path. By diligently preparing, understanding the school's requirements, developing effective strategies for success, and ensuring your application is top-notch, you can greatly enhance your chances of admission.

Encourage and prepare yourself! Remember, this is a marathon, so pace yourself. Use the wealth of resources available for aspiring medical professionals. Good luck on your MCAT and future endeavors in medicine. And should you need more guidance, schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with us. 


Founded in 1999 to provide comprehensive standardised test preparation and admissions coaching for students embarking on their university education.


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