The 2015 version of the MCAT is comprised of four main sections: Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems, Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems, and Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills and Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior. The last component is new and therefore has a lack of statistical or qualitative data surrounding it. Because of this, as well as unquantifiable factors such as fatigue, test anxiety, less than optimal test room conditions, and recent exposure to the material, the Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) has claimed that “Scores from the new exam will not be perfectly precise.” As such, it will be important not to over-interpret small differences in test scores.
Further complicating the new system, MCAT 2015 score scales emphasize the center of the scales, rather than the top third, in an effort to “draw attention to applicants who might otherwise be overlooked,” according to the AAMC. This means that students with scores in the center of the scales are likely to succeed in medical school, graduate in four or five years, and pass their licensure exams on the first try.
Georgia Tech’s Pre-Health Advisor, Andrea Clark, summarized the reasoning for the addition of this section: “Medical Schools generally try to review applicants holistically. I believe the main reason that these new sections have been added is to make future doctors realize that they must be culturally and ethnically aware in order to properly treat patients. Medicine is more than just science; medicine is for the people. The purpose of the MCAT is to ensure that in addition to science and math, students also possess interpersonal, intrapersonal, and problem solving skills.”
When asked on how to best prepare for this addition, she explained, “In order to be the best prepared for the new sections of sociology and psychology, students should take advantage of the plethora of resources available to them, including taking full-length practice exams, reading recommended textbooks, or gaining a ‘Health, Medicine, and Society’ minor.”
The minimum courses recommended in order to succeed on the new MCAT are Survey of Biochemistry (CHEM 3511) and General Psychology (Psyc 1101). In addition to these, for the new MCAT sociology components, at least two of the following are recommended: Introduction to Sociology (SOC 1101), Sociology of Health and Medicine (HTS 3086), and Culture/Society (HTS 3070). The Pre-Health office also offers a multitude of resources concerning the new MCAT under the T-Square page for students planning to take the exam.