As part of a possible hoax, Yale students expecting to take the day-long Medical College Admission Test at Yale on Saturday in Davies Auditorium learned Thursday afternoon that this weekend’s exam may be moved to Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn. The reasons for the MCAT Test Administration Board’s decision to change the location of the 8 a.m. examination are unknown to Yale administrators.
Undergraduate Career Services Director Philip Jones said the MCAT administration board told him Thursday that a person claiming to be a representative of Yale contacted the organization and said Yale could not host the MCATs because of this weekend’s Tercentennial celebrations.
However, several top Yale administrators said they do not know who placed this call, and said the change of location of this weekend’s exam could be part of a prank.
“It seems like someone called the MCAT administration offices and fabricated a hoax, saying the facility was not available,” Yale Secretary Linda Lorimer said. “In fact, [Jones] called the MCATs, and they said someone at Yale called. It’s neither the dean of [Yale] College nor the Medical School advisor nor [Jones], nor the chief of police, nor the secretary of University [who called].”
An answering machine reached last night at the MCAT administration office in Iowa said the office was closed. It did not let callers leave a message, and further attempts to contact MCAT officials last night were unsuccessful. The test is administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges. No one answered the phone last night at the association’s Washington, D.C., headquarters.
Lorimer said Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead would contact the MCAT administration board Friday morning in an attempt to hold the MCAT at Yale on Saturday as originally scheduled.
“Dean Brodhead himself is going to call the leadership of MCAT tomorrow to tell them it’s unacceptable that they would change the venue without the word coming from someone in his position,” Lorimer said.
The University and students did not learn of the location change until yesterday when some students, registered to take the MCATs, received an Express Mail letter on MCAT stationery postmarked April 18 from the MCAT Test Administration in Iowa. The letter indicated only that the test was moved, but did not give any explanation.
Jones said Undergraduate Career Services and, in turn, the University, learned of the location change only when one of the students who received the letter brought it into UCS Thursday afternoon. Jones, who initially suspected the letter to be a hoax, said he immediately verified the information with the MCAT administration and e-mailed the Yale pre-med list with the information that the location had in fact been changed.
However, many students who did not check their post office boxes yesterday and did not sign up with UCS only learned of the test location’s change to Wesleyan University through friends, if at all.
The possible change of location — which, in Middletown, would be about 45 minutes away — would place a major burden on those planning to take the test. Many test takers said they have booked hotel rooms in New Haven, have taken practice exams in the on-campus test location and have mentally prepared to take this test at Yale.
Sara Thierman ’02 booked a hotel room in New Haven to escape the noise of Yale the night before the exam. She said she took a preparatory course and has been preparing for the exam since November.
“Now we will get hotel rooms in Wesleyan, and we don’t know where to go for lunch, and we only have an hour,” Thierman said. “I blame Yale, I blame George Bush [’48] because I heard that this was done for security reasons surrounding the Tercentennial.”
Though Bush is giving a speech on campus this weekend, Lorimer said as far as the administration is concerned, the Tercentennial has nothing to do with the switch.
The Yale administration is taking this situation very seriously, and administrators said they recognize the burden that this change is placing on those planning to take the test.
“It is perfectly possible that someone played a hoax. They are potentially messing with the futures of 100 or so of our students,” Jones said. “Right now, we need to be very, very careful because we are simply not in possession of the facts.”
Jones said he urged students registered to take the test to get an update on the situation with UCS Friday afternoon either by phone or by coming into the office.