Since its inception in 1928, the MCAT, previously the Moss Test, has been used to determine potential aptitude for aspiring physicians. The MCAT has been revised several times, and for those pre-med hopefuls planning on starting medical school for, the test will be changing once more.
In response to over 2,700 surveys from residents, current medical students, faculty, admissions officers, and more, the iconic make-or-break application criterion has been edited to reflect the changing roles of physicians today. The diverse American population is aging and the demand for medical resources has skyrocketed. But it takes more than just rote knowledge to make an adept physician. Bedside manner is crucial, and the new tests are geared towards culling the best-rounded applicants who will be socially and culturally aware in addition to being scientifically adroit. In an open letter to pre-med students, Darrell G. Kirch, M.D./AAMC President and CEO notes, “Testing students’ understanding of these areas is important, because being a good physician is about more than scientific knowledge. It is about understanding people—how they think, interact, and make decisions”
What changes can students expect to see? The number one difference is the inclusion of several new topics including biochemistry, sociology, and psychology. Critical analysis and reasoning will also be heavily emphasized following recognition that requiring students to memorize everything is too demanding. Applicants who can quickly analyze new information will be most desired and most likely to succeed. The two existing natural science sections will also be updated to account for recent scientific advances and have more questions. Additionally, starting in 2013, the MCAT will not include the writing section as a part of the test, but students should not believe that this will shorten their testing time. Due to the new and longer sections, the new MCAT 2015 test will last six hours and fifteen minutes, excluding breaks.
So, what can students do to prepare for the 2015 MCAT? Jennifer Kimble, Head of Pre-Health Advising has these words, “I would definitely recommend students to take a semester of psychology and sociology. For those students who are not excited about the changes for the new MCAT in 2015, I do encourage them to plan their courses accordingly so they can take the MCAT in 2014. With that being said, there are now 2 different groups of students vying for the same seats those who are “on-track” to take the 2014, and those who have pushed ahead to take the 2014 . . . and there are a limited number of spots to take the test in the metro Atlanta area.” As a result, applicants may need to travel to a different city to take the test. For study aides, in 2014 AAMC will be releasing a full length test and “The Official Guide to the MCAT 2015”. Another practice test shall follow in 2015.