Old or New: Which MCAT Should You Take?
Beginning of spring 2015, the standardized test for medical school admission, the MCAT, is changing. MCAT 2015 will be vastly different from the current MCAT. It will be longer, broader and harder. The new test will be 6 hours and 20 minutes long, with three new testing areas: biochemistry, psychology, and sociology. MCAT 2015 will be more comprehensive as there are more topics included. It will also be organized along different criteria that span all the subjects. It asks you to solve problems by integrating concepts from multiple disciplines as well as using basic research methods and statistical skills in the same way that scientists do. The purpose of this is to ensure that the students who do get accepted to medical school not only have a good foundation of scientific facts and relevant formulae, but also the mental agility to look holistically at the sciences, and yet be comfortable at critically analyzing scientific data with a depth of perception. Here is a summary of the differences between the current and new version MCAT.
|CURRENT MCAT||MCAT 2015|
|EFFECTIVE EXAM DATES||2013 – Jan 2015||Beginning 17th April, 2015|
|NUMBER OF QUESTIONS||144||230|
|NUMBER OF SECTIONS||3||4|
|CONTENT||Physical SciencesBiological SciencesVerbal Reasoning||Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living SystemsChemical and Physical Foundations of Biological SystemsPsychological, Social and Biological Foundations of BehaviorCritical Analysis and Reasoning Skills|
|TOTAL CONTENT TIME||4 hours and 5 minutes (includes trial section)||6 hours 20 minutes|
|TOTAL SEATED TIME||Approx. 5 hours and 10 minutes||7 hours and 30 minutes|
How will MCAT 2015 be scored? Each of the four sections will be scored from a low of 118 to a high of 132, with a midpoint of 125. These scores will be combined to create a total score that will range from 472 to 528, with a midpoint of 500. For a prototype of the score report, click here. The following graphic provides an approximation of how your 4 MCAT scores—as well as your overall MCAT score—breaks down to the broad range of question types. Now, after knowing these details, let’s come to the million dollar question—which MCAT exam should you take—old or new? There are two primary questions you should consider before deciding on which MCAT to take.
- The first question is: when do you want to start medical school?
- The medical school admissions cycle begins the year before you start medical school. Many medical schools require MCAT scores before applications are considered. It’s important to know the application deadlines of the schools to which you’ll apply to ensure that your scores are delivered on time. Remember that MCAT scores are typically released 30–35 days after your test date. You can check the Medical School Admissions Requirements Guide for additional details: www.aamc.org/msar
The AAMC has conducted a survey with medical schools in an effort to gather information about which schools will accept scores from the current MCAT exam in the 2016 application cycle and beyond. You can find the detailed report here:
- The second question is: how well prepared are you for the test?
- This is an important factor to consider in deciding when to take the exam. You should take your exam when you are well prepared for it; do not rush into taking one!
- A good exercise to help you make the decision is to walk through the competencies required on the current and future MCAT in order to really assess your readiness levels.
- In general, you are ready when you have taken your pre-requisites and put in minimum of 2–3 months of study.
To help you further, here’s a quick comparison table:
|CURRENT MCAT||MCAT 2015|
|Shorter duration of 3 hours and 45 minutes.||Longer duration of 6 hours and 20 minutes.Will require a lot more stamina and endurance.|
|Lots of reliable test materials available.||New sections added; limited content available.|
|There would be no ambiguity in the scores as the exam is well established.||New exams see reduction in scores as people don’t perform as well until sometime after the new exam has been introduced.|
|8 official practice tests are available.||Only 1 official practice test available.|
|Less time to prepare.||More time to prepare.|
|About 33% non- science questions.||About 50% non-science questions.|
In conclusion, if your pre-requisites are ready and you are well prepared for the exam, go ahead and register for the current version MCAT which will be administered on 23rd January, 2015. On the other hand, if you are not ready, don’t rush—MCAT 2015 is a challenge which you can overcome with hard work and proper guidance. That’s all for now! Hope you find this article useful. We look forward to seeing you at ICON+ soon!