The 8,200 aspiring doctors expected to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) this year will be seeing a different exam than their predecessors.
The doctor-patient dynamic is changing. So, to stay on top of this shift in the health care industry, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) announced in April 2015, the first major revision to the MCAT in 25 years. This test is the first high-stake exam encountered by physicians. The big difference physician hopefuls will notice is that the new test assesses social aptitude and not just hard science.
The New MCAT.
There are some old reliables on the MCAT that are here to stay. The exam will still test on biological sciences and physical sciences.
Here’s what has changed:
– Students will have more questions to answer, but more time to complete each question;
– The new MCAT adds a section covering introductory psychology, sociology and neuroscience;
– The MCAT has replaced its old section on “verbal reasoning” with a broader test of comprehension in the humanities and social sciences;
– The test has eliminated the essay;
– There is a new emphasis on research, including designing studies and analyzing their results;
– The scoring for the new test will be different; and
– Scores for each of the four sections of the MCAT will be reported separately, so medical schools can emphasize or de-emphasize some parts if they choose.
The AAMC created 900 free videos to help students prepare for the new test. To review those videos, click here.
What This Means for Test Takers?
According to a press release from the AAMC, the new MCAT test is part of a broader effort to improve the medical school admission process and to support the holistic review of applicants, which balances experiences, attributes and academic metrics. To read the press release from the AAMC, click here.
There has been a paradigm shift in medical education to acknowledge the competencies physicians need beyond medical knowledge. Doctors now need to possess a broad set of skills that will treat the whole patient. The new exam reflects these changes. It should be obvious that a good physician is well-rounded with many skills that stretch far beyond basic sciences. These proficiencies are now being tested and emphasized at an earlier age.
Regardless of the changes, the same keys to succeeding as a physician applicant will apply: strong grades, competitive MCAT scores, well-rounded extracurricular activities, outstanding recommendation letters, and a promising interview.
What are your thoughts on the new MCAT test? Do you think testing more than just basic science on the MCAT is a positive change or unnecessary? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.
Diamond, Dan. “For the New Doctors We Need, The New MCAT Isn’t Enough.” Forbes. (April 22, 2015). From: http://www.forbes.com/sites/dandiamond/2015/04/22/we-need-a-new-type-of-doctor-but-will-the-new-mcat-be-enough/
Beck, Melinda. “Medical-College Entrance Exam Gets an Overhaul.” Wall Street Journal. (April 15, 2015). From: http://news.doximity.com/entries/1701511?user_id=2169203
Association of American Medical Colleges. “Future Physicians Take New Medical College Admission Test.” (April 20, 2015). From: https://www.aamc.org/newsroom/newsreleases/430138/20150420.html
About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.
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