There has been a lot of talk in the last few weeks on the upcoming changes to the MCAT, effective starting in 2015. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has approved these changes based on an overall shift in healthcare that is growing to emphasize patient understanding and interaction. It is not only the AAMC that has seen this shift. Many medical schools are starting to place first year medical students in situations with patient interaction. The definition of an excellent doctor is shifting to one that not only includes scientific knowledge but also the capability of relating to patients. Having a medical problem can be an exceedingly scary and uncertain experience that might be made more comfortable with a doctor who sees you as not just another case but as a person.
More information can be found in this extremely helpful guide published by the AAMC: MCAT 2015-A Better Test for Tomorrow’s Doctors. Here is a summary of the four sections of the 2015 MCAT.
1.Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems: This section is largely similar to the current biological sciences section of the MCAT that focuses on cell biology and cellular processes. However, this section will also include some concepts from biochemistry.
2. Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems: This section is similar to the current MCAT physical sciences section. This section will focus on general chemistry and physics as applied to living organisms.
3. Psychological, Social, and Biological Functions of Behavior: This is a completely new section that will be added to MCAT 2015. It is this section that was developed as a result of the shift in medicine toward patient interaction and understanding. The AAMC’s Preview Guide specifically states that “You will be tested on your knowledge of the ways in which psychological, social, and biological factors influence perceptions and reactions to the world; behavior and behavior change; what people think about themselves and others; the cultural and social differences that influence well-being; and the relationships between social stratification, access to resources, and well-being.” Psychology greatly plays a role in one’s comprehension of health and medicine, therefore a doctor can gain a greater access to understanding their patient by understanding these psychologic factors.
4. Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills: This section is similar to the current verbal reasoning section, however focuses more on the ability to deduce and apply the information in the given passages. Being a doctor is similar to being a detective. A patient does not have their condition already written on their forehead so all the doctor has to do is treat it. The patient comes in with many symptoms that individually may not mean much. It is the job of the doctor to piece together and analyze these seemingly unrelated factors in order to come up with a diagnosis.
MCAT 2015 will not have the writing section that is a part of the current edition of the test.
Although I will not be taking this version of the exam, as I will be taking the MCAT this year, I, personally, like these changes to the MCAT. I appreciate the focus of the AAMC to make the MCAT updated and relevant to the changes in health care. However, I suppose nothing can be perfect and I know every student is cringing over the new length of MCAT 2015, 6 1/2 hours.
Let me know what you think about the new changes to the MCAT and whether you are excited about taking it, or perhaps glad it is not in effect until 2015, by leaving a comment below. You can read the official press release about MCAT 2015 here. The AAMC website also has tons of great information for students.
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