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Evaluating the Changes to the MCAT in 2015

There will be important changes to the MCAT in 2013 and 2015. A previous article went into detail about these changes. To summarize, the main changes are that in 2013, there will no longer be a writing sample section. In 2015, an additional section called the “Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior” will be added. Advanced science concepts in biochemistry and expanded critical thinking will also be included in 2015.

Getting rid of the writing sample makes sense because many admissions offers admit that the writing sample score has little impact on medical school admissions. It was a red flag if an applicant’s score was on the lower end of the J-T range but the writing sample score did not matter nearly as much as the scores of the other three sections.

The changes in 2015, however, may not be as intuitive. The additional section will extend the test from 5 ½ hours to 7 hours. The changes to the MCAT also mean that the test will most likely be out of 60 instead of 45. Thus taking the MCAT will be even more grueling than before–the MCAT is not an easy test to begin with. The changes to the MCAT in 2015 will also affect how potential test takers prepare for the test. Due to the additional section, students may potentially spend a third more time studying than before. If test-takers were already studying 6 hours a day (2 hours per section), in 2015 they might have to increase it to 8 hours a day. Having to learn advanced concepts in biochemistry and more critical thinking might even increase those 8 hours to 9. To make things worse, schools might revise their curricula (in other words, increase the course load) to better prepare applicants for material learned in medical school. Some medical schools have already made those changes. This means pre-meds will have to take, and ace, more classes.

These changes are taking place and the ones who have to pay the price are most likely the future applicants. But is there a silver lining? Does the AAMC see something that we don’t see? According to Kaplan’s Test Prep’s 2012 survey 87% of medical school admissions officers support the changes. Only 1% did not support the changes and 12% were unsure. On similar lines, the 74% of admissions officers believe that the 2015 MCAT will better prepare prospective applicants for medical schools. With the changes, the majority of admissions officers agree that the path to medical school will become even more intense for pre-meds. Nevertheless they acknowledge that this might be good for medicine overall because only highly motivated students will survive. Admissions officers understand that this is an attempt to weed out future “bad” doctors.

For future applicants, this news may be difficult to swallow, but many experts believe that the changes to the MCAT in 2015 will better prepare future medical students and eventually doctors. The patient population is increasing and diversifying, research is rapidly adding to our medical knowledge, and technology is invading the medical field more and more. Doctors need to be prepared and this new MCAT is supposed to help in that preparation. Future applicants cannot do much but brace themselves. It is a necessary sacrifice to fulfill their goals of becoming a doctor. The AAMC is hoping that the new MCAT will scare away those who probably don’t care enough, aren’t smart enough, or aren’t motivated enough. It isn’t a perfect solution but it is a small start. As a result, our future doctors will suffer but hopefully, future patients will benefit.

Edward Chang

Edward Chang is the Co-founder and Director of Operations of He graduated from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and is currently a urology resident at the University of Washington. He also attended UCLA as an undergraduate, graduating with a major in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology. If you are interested in contributing to, please contact him at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @EdwardChangMD and Prospective Doctor @ProspectiveDr.

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