The Medical College Admission Test, otherwise known as the MCAT, is the single most important exam that aspiring doctors need to take. It is a test that students prepare for months as it has a huge effect on their medical school admissions. Currently, the MCAT contains a total of four sections: Physical Sciences (PS), Biological Sciences (BS), Verbal Reasoning (VR), and Writing Sample (WS). To perform well, students have to be able to memorize and apply the materials from these segments. However, to maximize one’s potential, the test taker must also be familiar with the layout of the test, including any changes that are expected to occur. Presently, there are two important changes that aspiring medical students need to be aware of; these modifications are expected to occur in 2013 and 2015.
From January 2013 to the end of the year 2014, the MCAT will no longer consist of the Writing Sample section. Instead, students will take a voluntary, trial section that will help the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) prepare for its upcoming alteration in 2015; this section will have no effect on a student’s MCAT score. Students who plan to take the MCAT in 2013 or 2014 should take note of this change. The other sections of the MCAT and the total time of the exam are expected to remain unchanged.
Furthermore, the MCAT will undergo a modification in 2015 that will significantly change this important examination. After much evaluation, AAMC believed it was necessary to make these changes to reflect the recent changes in the education of medicine; the writers of the test will preserve what has been effective, and remove portions that were not working. Starting 2015, the MCAT will have four test sections:
1. Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
2. Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
3. Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior
4. Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
Each section of the test will be scored on a scale from 118-132.
The Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems and the Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems are designed to test students on the knowledge of scientific concepts that medical schools believe is essential for success for a future doctor. Students need to understand concepts from the fields of biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, and physics.
The Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior section will test students on important social and behavioral ideas which are fundamental for a practicing physician. This section will draw upon ideas from psychology, sociology, and behavioral biology. This section will be new.
The Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section is another new section of the MCAT that will test students on their analytic skills. Students will be provided passages ranging from a variety of topics and will be expected to analyze and apply the information they just read. No prior scientific knowledge is required for this portion of the test.
Students who plan to take the MCAT in 2015 should consult the American Association of Medical Colleges for further details regarding the changes.