Friday, February 17, 2012

MCAT Changes Approved

Three years ago, changes to the MCAT were proposed. This would have been the first change in structure in over 20 years. As of this week, these changes have been approved by the AAMC and will come into effect in 2015. The restructure was done to more fully reflect the current medical system and all the knowledge medical students would need as they embark onto their careers.

Certain sections were removed, while others were added to test in new areas. There will no longer be a writing test component of the MCAT, as that was not deemed worthwhile for overall knowledge. Instead, there will be a new section titled "Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior" which will test in areas of psychology, sociology, and biology. These areas are essential for medical students to understand when engaging with patients in practice.

“Being a good doctor is about more than scientific knowledge. It also requires an understanding of people. By balancing the MCAT exam’s focus on the natural sciences with a new section on the psychological, social, and biological foundations of behavior, the new exam will better prepare students to build strong knowledge of the socio-cultural and behavioral determinants of health.” ~ Darrell G. Kirch, M.D., AAMC President and CEO

Additionally, there will be a new "Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills" section. Students will be presented passages which they will have to extract information from. This will test their abilities of analysis, evaluation, and application of information. Two natural science sections have also been added, including topics in the areas of biology, organic chemistry, biochemistry, and physics. These areas will test students' skills to use scientific inquiry and reasoning in order to solve problems. This will show that they are ready to embrace the requirements necessary for medical school.

In total, the overall testing time has been increased by an hour, from 5.5 to 6.5 hours, but this is in line with former versions of the test, so it should not be a problem for students. It will be interesting to see if the revised test shows a more complete picture of students' abilities and gives better selection for medical schools.

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