The MCAT is Changing for Premed Students
The MCAT changed in 1991 then started some minor changes in
2003; in 2007, the MCAT will be somewhat shorter and will change
to a Computer Based Test (CBT). Students preparing for the 2006
MCAT will not be affected. The following article reviews the
MCAT and what is currently known about the impending changes.
The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a prerequisite for
admission to nearly all the medical schools in North America.
Each year, over 50,000 applicants to American and Canadian
medical schools submit MCAT test results. While the actual
weight given to MCAT scores in the admissions process varies
from school to school, often they are regarded in a similar
manner to one's college/university CGPA (i.e. academic
In applying for medicine at some medical schools, for example,
the MCAT score is as important as the four years of
undergraduate study! On the other hand, some universities will
set a minimum level of performance on the MCAT and then analyze
school grades to decide who will be invited to the interviews.
Either way, doing well is imperative for most applicants.
The MCAT is administered on a Saturday biannually, at the
beginning of the academic year (usu. August) and at the end of
the academic year (usu. April). In 2006, the MCAT will be
admistered on April 22 and August 20.
The MCAT not only tests scientific knowledge in biology,
physics, inorganic and organic chemistry, but also measures
problem-solving, critical thinking and writing skills. The exam
is divided into four sections: Physical Sciences, Verbal
Reasoning, the Writing Sample and Biological Sciences.
The Physical Sciences section contains physics and general
chemistry. The Biological Sciences section contains biology and
organic chemistry. All questions, save the Writing Sample, are
multiple choice with four choices per question.
2006 will be remembered as the last year of the paper MCAT and
2007 is the introduction of the Computer Based MCAT Test (MCAT
CBT). The content is the same but the MCAT CBT is a shorter test.
Here is a summary of the 2007 MCAT changes: (1) the MCAT will be
shorter (approximately 5 hours vs. the current testing time of 8
hours); (2) students will receive their MCAT scores more
quickly; (3) the MCAT will be offered more frequently throughout
the year (up to 20 testing dates); and (4) the MCAT will be
given in smaller, climate-controlled rooms.
The official website for the MCAT (aamc.org) has links to
practice CBT MCATs and updates regarding the changing test. The
Student Doctor Network has a discussion board where premeds can
discuss the 2007 MCAT changes.