As major changes to the Medical College Admission Test loom, students at Yale may need to make decisions earlier about whether medical school is right for them.
The new version of the MCAT, which will be three hours longer than the current exam, will include more questions on biochemistry and an additional section testing knowledge of social and behavioral sciences. The written portion of the exam, which the Association of American Medical Colleges has said is the least useful in predicting medical students’ success, will be eliminated. Though some of these changes have already been incorporated into the MCAT, the changes will not count toward students’ scores until 2015. Students interviewed said they were supportive of the changes but said they anticipate that the new MCAT will require more preparation.
Though the MCAT has not changed since 1991, Kristin McJunkins, director of the Health Professions Advisory Program at Yale, said that because the field of medicine has been continuously changing it seems appropriate for the Association of American Medical Colleges to restructure the exam.
The new portions of the exam will test additional skills that medical schools want to see in prospective students, she said.
Four out of five pre-med students interviewed who will be taking the new exam in 2015 said they appreciate the fact that the MCAT is being restructured even though the new test may prove to be tougher.
“I think it is clearly obvious that the current system right now is not selecting for the best types of doctors,” Saad Syed ’16 said. “For doctors in this century, test score[s] and a good GPA [are] not indicative of who exactly is going to be a good doctor.”
McJunkins said it is too soon to tell whether the changes will result in better or worse exam performance. It will take medical schools at least a year or two before they can use aggregated score information to understand how to use the new exam in their admissions process, she said.
Though the new sections will test more areas of knowledge, Yale students will likely do well on the new sections because the University’s distribution requirements expose students to a “broad liberal education,” McJunkins said.
“Obviously they are going to have to study and get used to taking the test and learn the types of questions being asked in the section,” McJunkins said. “[But they] probably already have a lot of this knowledge anyway so it is just going to be a matter of practicing.”
Mitchell Bryski ’17 said he is disappointed that the exam is going to be three hours longer. At approximately four hours, the test is already too long, he said.
Still, he said he approves of the fact that the new test will be more comprehensive.
“With the future of medicine being what it is going to be, I think it is going to be nice to have a more well rounded doctor,” he said.
Test preparation companies have already begun offering materials for the new MCAT on their websites.