By Rachel Ambelang
The incoming freshman class of 2016, and possibly this year’s freshman class of 2015, will be the first students to take the new version of the Medical College Admission Test.
The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) recently posted samples of the new version of the test on its website.
“The changes preserve what works about the current exam, eliminate what isn’t working and further enrich the MCAT by giving attention to the concepts tomorrow’s doctors will need,” according to the AAMC website.
In 2008, the AAMC commissioned a committee of biology professors, medical school admission advisors, medical students and others involved in the acceptance process to evaluate the MCAT.
These evaluations are done to ensure that the context of the test is reflective of current medical education and the health care system.
The 2015 change marks the fifth major alteration of the MCAT since it was introduced in the 1920s.
The new MCAT will include the addition of an entirely new section titled “Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior,” as well as a more intense examination of the biomedical sciences, such as genetics and biochemistry.
Despite the removal of the writing sample section, this new MCAT will last at least two more hours than the previous six-hour test.
Jeff Koetje, director of pre-health programs at Kaplan, takes part in the research done among medical school admissions boards.
Koetje said the addition of psychology and sociology to the test was necessary because of the advances made in health care as well as the sociocultural changes within the health care system.
“Patients are more complex today, and medical schools have to ensure that these students will be capable of treating the whole person and everything that comes with that,” Koetje said.
Baylor does not currently require pre-med students to take sociology and psychology courses, which is a change that will have to be made for next year’s incoming pre-med students.
Although the AAMC is still unsure about whether or not the class of 2015 will be required to take the revised test, it is certain that the incoming pre-med students will have to take the new version of the MCAT.
Jane Lin, program coordinator of the Baylor pre-health programs, discussed the necessary changes to the curriculum.
“[The changes] are something that we will probably start discussing this summer,” Lin said. “We just have not had the chance to meet with the psychology and sociology departments in order to incorporate these changes yet.”
Kaplan does a yearly survey among medical schools both in the U.S. and Canada, and this year asked the different admissions boards what they thought of the new MCAT.
Koetje said that 73 percent of the schools agree with the changes made.
“There is general agreement that these are the right changes and right time for these changes in order to produce better medical students for today,” Koetje said.
According to the Kaplan survey, However, only 52 percent of the admissions boards believe that there is enough time for undergraduate schools to make the necessary changes in curriculum and study programs.