The AAMC (the company that administers the MCAT) will be rolling out a new version of the medical school entrance exam in spring of 2015. 

In this post, we'll explore what this means for you in terms of both your pre-med coursework and pre-MCAT studying.

Why is the MCAT changing?

  • Medical schools are shifting their focus to recruit pre-med students who have a well-rounded background in the humanities and social sciences—as the AAMC calls them, “tomorrow’s doctors.” They understand the value of abstract and socially-conscious thinking beyond a purely scientific background. 

Who will be taking the MCAT 2015?

  • If you plan to matriculate to med school in fall 2016 or later, this may be the exam for you to consider. Your MCAT scores are good for three years, so if you don't want to deal with the changes and you are planning to apply in the next three years, you can take the current version of the test. However, if you will be applying more than three years from now, or you plan to test after the spring of 2015, you will have to take the new version.

What’s new about it?

  • The exam will be longer; the current version is about four hours long, but the new version will be approximately six and a half hours long.
  • Biochemistry will now be tested. Before, only some medical schools required it, though the subject has always been a recommended one to study in preparation for the MCAT.
  • There will now be sections testing your knowledge of social and behavioral sciences, including psychology and anthropology. 
  • Verbal passages, which currently are more-or-less focused on concrete topics, will be expanded to include more abstract excerpts from ethics or philosophy.
  • Passages on population health and cross-cultural studies will also be included. Specific content knowledge about these passages isn't required, but students should still read widely so that they know how to work with various types of texts.
  • The cost of the test will increase, although the amount has yet to be announced. Fee waivers will continue to be offered. 

You can explore the content for the 2015 MCAT here.

What will you have to do differently to prepare?

  • Since biochemistry will now be explicitly tested, all students planning to take the MCAT 2015 should take at least one semester of college-level biochemistry.
  • Taking a semester each of sociology and psychology is also highly recommended. Since many of the passages and questions will be relevant to the the humanities or social sciences, familiarity with these fields will be a huge help on the MCAT.
  • Whether you are an undergraduate or a post-bac student, plan your coursework and test preparation carefully so that you can take these aforementioned classes in addition to the other fundamental pre-med classes (inorganic chemistry, biology, organic chemistry, and physics) prior to taking the MCAT.

Remember that MCAT scores are honored for three years, so you may have the option to consider taking the current version of the MCAT before it changes. Give us a call if you need help determining which test might be best for you and how to begin preparing for it in the most appropriate way.