Good news for pre-med students concerned about a lack of MCAT seats before the test changes in 2015: the maker of the exam (the Association of American Medical Colleges) has added October and November test dates in 2014. These additional testing dates are the first time in recent MCAT history that the exam will be offered later than September, which may help alleviate the rush to take the MCAT before changes hit. Historically, test changes have caused a surge of pre-change exam takers anxious to take a familiar test rather than an unknown, new exam -- a trend seen with GRE and GMAT test takers preceding recent changes to those tests.
In fact, a January 2014 Kaplan Test Prep survey of MCAT takers shows that most pre-med students believe the 2015 test will be more challenging than the current version. Among the results:
- A More Challenging Exam: 66% of pre-med students surveyed think the MCAT changes will make the new exam more difficult than the current one; just 8% say the changes will make the exam easier; 16% say the level of difficulty will stay about the same; 11% are unsure.
- New MCAT, New Material To Be Taught: A majority (56%) of pre-meds surveyed say that if the current exam included the new topics coming in 2015 (such as psychology, sociology, and more in-depth biochemistry), they wouldn't have been prepared for it. Note: Pre-med programs around the country are changing their curricula to ensure that all students who will take the new MCAT (current freshmen and sophomores) are prepared for the new exam’s content.
- A Deterrent to a Career in Medicine?: While a majority (55%) of pre-meds surveyed say the new MCAT will neither encourage nor discourage students from seeking a career in medicine, 39% think it will discourage future doctors; just 5% say the new exam will actually encourage students to pursue a career in medicine.
“This unprecedented addition of MCAT test dates in the fall is great news for pre-med students concerned about not being able to take the exam before it changes. In the past, many students have been forced to travel out of state to take the MCAT because of a lack of local seats,” said Aaron Lemon-Strauss, executive director of pre-med programs, Kaplan Test Prep. “We encourage students to reserve their MCAT testing spot as soon as they know when they want to take the test. This will give them one less thing to worry about as they navigate the medical school admissions process. Knowing exactly when Test Day is will provide students with even more focus as they prepare for the exam.”