MCAT Changes Focus on Behavior and Analysis

The Medical College Admission Test is getting a redesign for future medical school students with changes that will take effect in 2015.

The Medical College Admission Test is getting a redesign for future medical school students. In February, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) announced the changes that will take effect in 2015.

Before proposing the changes, a 21-member committee spent three years to review surveys from undergraduate and medical faculty, administrators and medical students. The changes, according to the AAMC, are designed to help students better prepare for the rapidly changing health care system.

The new test will add two sections — critical analysis and reasoning skills, and psychological, social and biological foundations of behavior — while eliminating the writing portion. The overall time of the exam will increase to six-and-a-half hours from four-and-a-half hours. These are the first changes to the MCAT since 1991, when the writing section was first added.

“Being a good doctor is about more than scientific knowledge,” Darrell G. Kirch, MD, AAMC president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. “It also requires an understanding of people. By balancing the MCAT’s focus on the natural sciences with a new section on the psychological, social, and biological foundations of behavior, the new exam will better prepare students to build strong knowledge of the socio-cultural and behavioral determinants of health.”

Although the new test doesn’t take effect until spring of 2015, the AAMC reported that the writing section will be discontinued as of January 2013. The writing section got the axe because the committee discovered it revealed little additional information on the applicants.

The psychological, social and biological foundations of behavior section will test what is typically taught in intro level courses for those areas. The reason behind this addition was an AAMC report that found health care improves when medical education integrates social and behavioral sciences.

The new critical analysis and reasoning skills section has students analyze, evaluate and apply provided information, which will come from social sciences and humanities disciplines. Students won’t be required to have specific subject matter knowledge, but the hope is that the section’s focus will encourage students to read broadly.

U.S. News & World Report

reported that colleges and universities would change their pre-med curricula as a result of the changes to the MCAT.