Almost all U.S. medical schools require applicants to take and submit scores for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), a computer-based, standardized examination administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), as part of the admissions process. The MCAT is designed to assess applicants' problem solving, critical thinking, analytical, and writing skills in addition to their knowledge of science concepts and principles prerequisite to the study of medicine.
As one of the few objective measures available to compare applicants and a fairly reliable indicator of applicants' future academic success in medical school, medical school admissions committees place a great deal of weight on MCAT performance. Moreover, the MCAT will probably be one of the longest and most challenging exams you have taken to date. Given the importance of your MCAT score in the admissions process and the difficulty of the exam itself, it goes without saying that devoting a significant time and effort into preparing for the MCAT should be a top priority as you prepare to apply to medical school.
In 2015 the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) will undergo a complete revision. Students who expect to take the MCAT after January 2015 should prepare for the changes that have been adopted.
Please note that the “new” MCAT will be longer (6 hours and 15 minutes vs. the current 4 hours and 20 minutes) and will test not only your understanding of science and your critical reasoning skills, but also your ability to apply basic principles of social and behavioral sciences, i.e. sociology, psychology, anthropology. We expect that most Hamilton students will be able to prepare for the added section with little inconvenience, either by taking a social science class, participating in study abroad, or in the course of electing a broad range of liberal arts courses. The revised MCAT will “test ability to analyze and reason through passages in ethics and philosophy, cross-cultural studies, population health, and a wide range of social sciences and humanities disciplines.” There will be four sections on the test, with a separate score for each:
Molecular, Cellular and Organismal Properties of Living Things
Physical, Chemical and Biochemical Properties of Living Things
Behavioral and Social Sciences Principles
Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
The changes in the MCAT anticipate changes to the entire medical school admission process. Medical schools will continue to seek strong scientists, but admissions offices plan to conduct a “holistic review” of your application materials, giving equal attention to your academic ability, experiences and personal characteristics. The personal characteristics sought are those required to practice medicine: integrity, reliability, resilience, communication skills, desire to learn, empathy and eagerness to serve others.
Please note: if you plan to take the MCAT in 2014, the Writing Sample section will no longer be part of the exam. The revised MCAT does not include a Writing Sample.