MCAT Exam: AAMC opposes waivers

August 7, 2020

The association says that the test will continue to be administered in testing centers.

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has released an open letter to those taking the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) saying that the test will continue to be administered in testing centers.

The letter is from AAMC President and CEO, David J. Skorton, MD, and AAMC Board of Directors Chair, Joseph E. Kerschner, MD, and says that they also take seriously their responsibility to support medical school admissionsby identifying qualified, diverse students to enter medical colleges.

The AAMC argues that making the MCAT optional for the 2021 year would not result in a fair or equitable process, according to the letter.

“Of the 50,000 expected applicants to medical school this year, MCAT scores for 37,000 have already been transmitted to medical schools,” the letter says. “Encouraging schools to waive the MCAT exam will introduce inequity into the review processes that are already underway at many medical schools and could ultimately disadvantage students from underrepresented and lower socioeconomic backgrounds by taking away their opportunity to take the exam and meaningfully compete with other applicants.”

The letter says that AAMC data shows at least 3,600 examinees from these backgrounds who have already submitted their applications are scheduled to take the exam in August and September and the association opposes any move to cancel the exam based on “little to no evidence of actual risk” due to the possible disadvantage to students from these backgrounds .

This comes after the American College of Physicians released a policy position arguing for an MCAT waiver citing a recent report of four examinees testing positive for COVID-19.

According to AAMC letter, 43,000 students have taken the exam since May and as of Aug. 5 the association had only received reports or information on four examinees in regard to COVID-19 infections. A single examinee had tested positive 12 days before the examination but did not disclose that to the test administrators, another examinee began experiencing symptoms while taking the test, and the final two developed symptoms within a week of taking the exam, the letter says.

The letter includes a seven-step safety protocol consistent with guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which creates redundant layers of protection. The seven-steps are:

  • Requiring examinees to confirm that they meet CDC health and safety guidelines and agree to follow all guidelines during the test
  • Reducing the amount of test-takers at each site by 50 percent
  • Requiring masks for all staff and examinees when in the same room with other people
  • Maintaining six feet of distance between examinees at all times
  • Allowing gloves and making hand sanitizer available during the test
  • Spacing all test workstations at least six feet apart, separated by partitions, and having plexiglass sneeze guard between test center staff and candidates during check-in
  • Cleaning high-touch areas every hour and cleaning workspaces between examinees