According to Kaplan Test Prep’s 2012 survey of medical school admissions officers*, the vastly revamped MCAT set to launch in 2015 has the strong support of an important segment of the medical education community. Nearly 9 out of 10 (87%) medical school admissions officers support the changes to the MCAT, while only 1% don’t support the changes; 12% aren’t sure. Similarly, 74% of admissions officers say the 2015 MCAT will better prepare aspiring doctors for medical school; just 5% say it won’t; and 21% aren’t sure of what its effects will mean. The Association of American Medical Colleges – the governing body of all accredited U.S. and accredited Canadian allopathic medical schools – formally approved major content changes to the MCAT earlier this year, and includes the addition of behavioral and social sciences, advanced science concepts in biochemistry, and expanded critical thinking. While the writing section will be eliminated in 2013, the additional content will make the 2015 MCAT over an hour longer than the current one – going from 5 ½ hours to about 7 hours. But while medical school admissions officers think the 2015 MCAT will produce stronger medical students, many also believe the road to medical school may become more intense for pre-meds. 40% say that pre-meds’ course loads will increase because of the additional content they will have to learn as undergrads; 46% say their course loads will stay at about their current levels; and 15% aren’t sure. No admissions officers say pre-meds’ course loads will become easier. Many pre-med programs have already revised their curricula or are in the process of doing so to ensure that students – particularly freshmen and sophomores – are prepared to tackle the exam’s new content come 2015. “We agree with medical school admissions officers that the MCAT changes are needed and beneficial, as today’s medicine includes scientific advances that didn’t exist a generation ago, and doctors are increasingly serving a more diverse population,” said Amjed Saffarini, vice president of graduate programs, Kaplan Test Prep. “The new exam content will not only be more difficult than the current one, but the road to get there will also be more challenging since pre-med students will need to learn significantly more material within the same amount of time – a potentially daunting, but achievable hurdle for this highly motivated group.”
Other key results from Kaplan’s 2012 survey of medical school admissions officers:
- MCAT’s Importance Increases: 51% of medical school admissions officers say an applicant’s MCAT score is the most important admissions factor – up from 43% in 2011’s survey; an applicant’s undergraduate GPA placed second at 23%, followed by relevant experience at 14%; the interview at 6%, letters of recommendation at 4%; and personal statement at 3%.
- The Interview Process: 76% of medical schools say they use the traditional interview process - where applicants meet face-to-face with just a few officials for lengthier periods of time - down from 82% in Kaplan’s 2011 survey. 17% say they use the newer Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) process, where applicants are interviewed and assessed by many officials for shorter periods of time – only 6% said they used this process in Kaplan’s 2011 survey.