As the standardized test requirement for most medical schools in the United States and Canada, the MCAT exam must accommodate the quickly changing field of medicine and the medical school curriculum.
Prospective David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA students taking the MCAT in 2015 need to know that the exam has changed to reflect what the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) considers important skills and knowledge for entering medical school prepared.
For one, there is no longer a writing section to the exam. The 2015 test will be organized into four sections, each with a separate score in addition to the test's total score. Here's how the question sections of the 2015 test has changed:
Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
A new emphasis has been placed on biochemistry as a basis for the academic success for students entering medical school. The new test covers more first-semester biochemistry content, including the topics of cellular and molecular biology.
Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
New natural sciences sections will reflect the Scientific Foundations for Future Physicians (SFFP) competencies that students may have learned and studied. The passages will now reflect these interdisciplinary concepts and knowledge, combined with scientific thinking and reasoning skills, to solve problems that demonstrate readiness for medical school.
Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior
Because doctors today serve a diverse and changing population, physicians should understand the factors that influence patient perceptions and reactions on health and wellness, according to the AAMC. Now, biology concepts that relate to mental processes and behavior are important on the new test, as are scientific inquiry, scientific reasoning, research methods and statistics skills as they apply to the social and behavioral sciences. And take note: the psychological test questions will be based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association.
Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
This section tests whether prospective students have the reasoning and analysis skills they'll need to succeed in medical school today. The new questions test these skills in two ways. First, students will notice these types of reasoning and analysis questions in the other natural, social and behavioral sciences test sections. Second, the critical analysis section itself tests students' competencies and understanding of basic probability, measures of central tendency, measures of variability, confidence intervals, statistical significance levels, graphical presentation of data, hypothesis formulation, independent and dependent variables, hypothesis testing and reporting of research results. At most colleges and universities, undergraduate students learn these concepts in introductory psychology and sociology courses and in biology, chemistry, physics and biochemistry courses and labs. This new section also combines concepts from the social sciences and humanities disciplines, including ethics, philosophy, studies of diverse cultures and population health.
A free, interactive tool from the AAMC, What's on the MCAT2015 Exam?, covers the complete list of topics on the new test, section by section, and additional free, open access instructional resources are also available.
Cost and testing time increase for the MCAT2015
The cost of the test will increase to $300 to support an increase in the number of test questions and more working time given per question for a longer overall test day. Students who qualify for Fee Assistance Program benefits will pay $115.
Registration will open in February 2015 and the first test administration date is April 17, 2015. The first medical school class selected with the new test results will be those applying to medical school in the fall of 2016.