MCAT Changes finalized

Amira Saleh uses one of Kaplan's Prep books to study for the MCAT. Photo by Sarah Jaber.

by Kiran Munir

Staff Writer

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is undergoing transformation and the new version is expected to be administered in the spring of 2015.

Students take the MCAT before applying to a medical college and other related health fields such as podiatry and veterinary medicine. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) finalized the changes in mid-February of this year.

According to the Senior Director at Admissions Testing Service, Karen Mitchell PhD, “the intent is not to show the endurance of potential medical students. Rather, the exam is designed to focus on the concepts and skills that future physicians will need in a rapidly changing health care system where medical knowledge continues to evolve at an increasingly rapid pace.”

With the removal of the writing section, this new test will gain two new sections and the time frame will increase from 4.5 hours to 6.5 hours.

“The writing section is being removed because according to medical admissions officers the writing test score is used only for a very small group of applicants whose verbal reasoning to writing score was poor,” Mitchell shared.

One of the new sections is called Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior. This section challenges the future applicants’ ability to react to the world, including social, cultural and socio-economic factors and how these factors affect well being.

The second section is called, “Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills.” This section will test students’ reasoning ability by forcing them to analyze, evaluate and apply information provided in reading pages from a wide range of disciplines, including philosophy and cultural studies.

Besides the addition of the two new sections, the test is expected to increase the content tested in areas of introductory biochemistry, scientific reasoning and research and statistics skills.

The basic science course will stay the same but courses in biochemistry, psychology and sociology are highly recommended. Most of the new courses tested are not drastically different from the core course requirements of majority of the colleges.

A free preview guide with sample questions is currently available online and a new official guide and full-length practice exam will be published in 2014 with another one following in 2015.

“The new cumulative high score has yet to be decided. Also, the question of how the current test scores will be honored for applicants applying in the 2016 cycle of thereof,” said Mitchell. Currently, a score of up to four years old is valid for applying to medical school.

Mitchell assured, “AAMC and the admissions officers expect to decide on these questions in June and will communicate it to stake holders, pre-health advisors and other baccalaureate faculty. Furthermore, postings on the MCAT 2015 Web site and through social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook will be available for interested students.”