After a close call, the Medical College Admission Test was held without a hitch Saturday in Mason Lab on the Yale campus.
Yale Students planning to take the MCAT received letters last Thursday from ACT Inc., the test administrators. The letter indicated there was a last minute relocation of the test to Wesleyan University. With letters arriving so late and because most of Yale’s administrators were not informed of the switch, initially the relocation appeared to be a hoax. In the end, it turned out to be a big misunderstanding between ACT Inc. and a Yale employee.
Representatives from both ACT and Undergraduate Career Services said the Yale test supervisor, a University employee hired by ACT to administer the test, acted independently in switching the MCAT to Wesleyan when that employee learned former President George H.W. Bush would speak on the same day as the exam as part of weekend tercentennial celebrations.
“The test supervisor at Yale found out that former President Bush was coming and thought that this may be a distraction to test takers,” said Ken Gullette, director of media relations for ACT Inc. “The people who take the MCAT are usually very concerned about distractions.”
However, when students and administrators discovered Thursday that the ACT switched the MCAT from Yale to Wesleyan — which is about a 40-minute drive from New Haven — outrage and confusion spread across the campus. For many test takers, this last minute change represented a far greater distraction than Bush’s speech on campus.
As a result, Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead contacted ACT Friday morning and arranged for a test not only to be held at Yale, but also at Wesleyan to ensure that no one would be disadvantaged, UCS Director Philip Jones said.
“The first opportunity that we had to speak to someone was 9:30 Friday morning, and we had the situation resolved within an hour,” Jones said. “Given that this thing came out of nowhere, to everyone’s surprise, we were able to come up with a plan very quickly and even have a backup plan.”
As a precautionary measure, UCS kept a bus on hand Saturday morning so that any student who planned to take the MCAT at Wesleyan, after the confusion of the last-minute switch, could do so without undue hardship. Jones said no one showed up at 6:30 a.m. to catch the bus.
According to Jones, while 80 Yale students registered to take the MCAT, approximately 15 students who registered to take the MCAT did not take the test at Yale. Some took the test at Wesleyan, he said.
“It was a straightforward misunderstanding on this end that there might be a problem and rumors got started that it was a security risk. It was something that started out innocently enough and got blown out of proportion,” Jones said. “[It was] an unhappy situation that had a relatively happy conclusion given what the circumstances were.”