MCAT 2015 set to bring changes to exam
Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 20:04
Students who aspire to be medical doctors will be affected by the latest announced changes to the current Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), scheduled to take affect in 2015.
The exam is intended to be more competitive than the current version, with a redesigned format that incorporates more of the social sciences and an omission of the writing sample portion.
Since its creation in 1928, the MCAT has served as a rite of passage for students wanting to attend a medical college in the US or Canada. The exam has changed four times prior to the recent changes, most notably in 1991, when a writing sample portion was added.
The AAMC and its 21 member advisory committee have spent the last three years analyzing the current MCAT and making necessary changes to what they hope will “eliminate what isn’t working, and enrich the exam by giving attention the concepts tomorrow’s doctors will need.”
Consequently, the exam will remove the writing section as early as 2013. The new MCAT features four test sections: Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems, Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems, Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior, and Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills, which will test a student’s ability to “analyze, evaluate, and apply information provided by passages from a wide range of social sciences and humanities disciplines,” according to AAMC. This will include ethics and philosophy problems in the verbal reasoning section.
Finally, test takers are expected to spend seven hours on the new MCAT, as opposed to the current five hours.
The existing MCAT covers science topics in physics, chemistry, and biology, while the new one will require knowledge of cellular/molecular biology, biochemistry, research methods, and statistics.
While the Baruch majors in Biological Sciences and Ad Hoc in Natural Sciences will help students prepare for the new MCAT, the challenge for the Natural Sciences Department and professors will be how to integrate the new pre-med requirements into the curriculum.
“These are the biggest proposed changes to the MCAT in 25 years and reflect the significant changes in the practice of medicine during this time, as physicians today need to know far more than they did a generation ago,” said Amjed Saffarini, executive director of pre-health programs at Kaplan Test Prep. “The recommended changes are designed to make the test more relevant for the next generation of doctors, and rightly so.”
According to Kaplan Test Prep’s 2011 survey of medical school admissions officers, “Forty-three percent of medical school admissions officers said the MCAT is the most important admissions factor. An applicant’s undergraduate GPA placed second at 28 percent, followed by relevant experience at 19 percent, and the interview at 9 percent.”
The same survey reviewed the interview process and found that “82 percent of medical schools say they use the traditional interview process where applicants meet face-to-face with just a few officials for lengthier periods of time. This is in contrast to the 6 percent who say they use the newer Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) process, where applicants are interviewed and assessed by many officials for shorter periods of time.”
Students interested in finding out more information and a sample 2015 MCAT questions are recommended to visit the AAMC website, or the Natural Sciences Department in the 23rd Street Building.