The revised MCAT, which will be introduced for the first time in April 2015, will shift its focus to a more interdisciplinary and integrative mindset. Students who intend to take this version of the exam can refer to the guide below for more information about its sections, the skills it assesses, and the best ways to prepare.
What does the MCAT2015 test?
There are four sections on the MCAT2015. Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems emphasizes central biological processes, including those that are biochemical in nature. (Students should note that biochemistry is a new addition to the MCAT.) Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems tests those chemistry and physics concepts that influence the ways in which the human body works. Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills is akin to the verbal section on other standardized exams – you will be asked to read and analyze passages from a variety of disciplines. Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior assesses your understanding of the psychological and social forces that can affect a person’s health and the healthcare system. Like biochemistry, this portion of the MCAT2015 is brand new. Here is a guide on how the MCAT is scored.
Each of the three science sections lasts 95 minutes, and each contains 59 questions. The verbal portion of the MCAT2015 is 90 minutes long, with 53 questions. They are all scored on a scale from 118 to 132. Your total score, which is the sum of your four section results, ranges from 472 to 528. These are some great time management stratgies for the MCAT.
Several undergraduate classes can help you prepare for the test. These include yearlong courses (with lab sections) in biology (cellular and molecular biology, rather than ecology or environmental science), chemistry, and physics. In addition, you should also take one-semester introductory courses in biochemistry, psychology, and sociology. Certain science classes explicitly cover research methods and statistics, but if yours do not, you should strongly consider enrolling in courses that address these areas. Why? The MCAT2015 will explicitly focus on scientific inquiry, including the role of problem-solving and reasoning, interpretation of results, and research design.
How does the MCAT2015 test my skills?
The MCAT2015 asks questions in a way that is likely somewhat different from what you encounter in school. In your classes, the goal is often to individually master a large set of fine points. The MCAT2015, on the other hand, emphasizes reasoning and cross-disciplinary thought. The Association of American Medical Colleges views the MCAT2015 as an opportunity to select physicians for the 21st century, which means recognizing that you are not learning about multiple sciences with no connection, but rather how science applies to the one item you will eventually be studying – human life in all its aspects, from the molecular, to the social.
The Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills portion also helps medical schools identify applicants who are well rounded, with intellectual skills outside of science. While you will not need pre-existing knowledge to answer any question in this section, you should be able to rapidly understand and analyze passages drawn from the humanities.
How can I prepare for the MCAT2015?
The MCAT2015 is a long exam – in fact, it is likely longer than any test you have taken thus far (including the SAT), and it covers a wide variety of challenging material. Consequently, you will likely need several months to prepare. Allow yourself the same number of study hours per week that you would dedicate to a four-credit class in school.
When studying, try to focus on how a concept applies across multiple disciplines. You may find that enlisting the help of MCAT tutors can increase the efficacy of your prep. You might also try reviewing in small groups of two to three people. Being able to explain concepts to others is the highest level of understanding, and doing so will enhance your own studying substantially. To prepare for the verbal portion, read articles that critically discuss the humanities. Write a realistic prep plan with room for leeway, and you will be able to cover all the material in time. These 5 strategies for MCAT practice tests can also help you prepare.
The MCAT2015 focuses on an integrative understanding of science and rewards students who can also handle the humanities. Proper prep requires planning and commitment, just like being a physician does. Keep these points in mind, and you will likely achieve the best score possible.