Today’s physicians are faced with enormous and complex challenges for each of their patients. It is no longer enough to consider how to bypass a clogged artery in isolation. Instead, you will now be expected to consider how your patient will pay for the bypass procedure. Will he or she be able to take time off from work? Will his or her post-procedure lifestyle be consistent with long-term maintenance of health and wellness?
These are the kinds of questions that motivated the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) to debut the new Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior section of the Medical College Admissions Test. Unsurprisingly, many students are especially concerned about this section, as it is the first time that students are being tested explicitly on psychology, sociology, and related social sciences. The preparation materials you might have from years past may not touch on these topics at all, and typical medical school pre-requisites often do not discuss these ideas.
Fortunately, the AAMC has released detailed guidance for this section of the exam. Considering their guidelines, it is clear that the best preparation for this section of the exam is to succeed in first-year-level psychology or sociology courses. Having mastered the content of these classes, you will be equipped to consider the social or biological influences on behavior that can have consequences for an individual’s health care. Perhaps you’re further along in your education, and hope to take the exam before you would realistically be able to complete related full college courses. In this case, it is probably worthwhile to consider reviewing the content with peers or other students who have completed these courses. Whether you need top MCAT tutors in New York, MCAT tutors in Chicago, or top MCAT tutors in Los Angeles, working with a pro may take your studies to the next level.
Many of the lessons you have learned in other classes of your pre-medical curriculum may be very useful here, even if they are not explicitly social science courses. Consider, for instance, the statistics and hypothesis testing covered in an introductory biology course. These concepts will be largely identical when dealing with research in the social sciences. It is important, therefore, to study for this section by integrating basic concepts in psychology or sociology into the existing framework you have developed for the natural sciences. Behavior, after all, is under endocrine, nervous, and metabolic control as much as it is under social control. Varsity Tutors offers resources like free MCAT Social and Behavioral Sciences Practice Tests to help with your self-paced study, or you may want to consider an MCAT tutor.
Recognizing how the social sciences fit into the material you have already covered in great detail can be extremely helpful when preparing for this section of the MCAT. Succeeding on the Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior section of your MCAT exam demands that you think critically and integrate new information into your existing knowledge bank. It also demands that you consider social sciences when anticipating behavior or approaching situations similar to a patient care scenario. Both of these sets of skills are absolutely essential to success in medical school, and so adequate preparation for this part of your MCAT can give you a fantastic advantage in the years to come. In addition to the MCAT Social and Behavioral Sciences Help Section and MCAT Social and Behavioral Sciences tutoring, you may also want to consider using some of our MCAT Social and Behavioral Sciences Question of the Day.
If you find yourself confused about a given social sciences concept or how it fits into the MCAT’s expectations, you can review it using Varsity Tutors’ free MCAT Social and Behavioral Help page. The Help content on our Learning Tools site offers model questions with walkthroughs and correct answer designations to help you integrate new topics into your existing knowledge base, all while learning how to avoid common pitfalls in answering questions about this material. By making good use of this tool, as well as our other free MCAT Social and Behavioral resources, you can gain new skills and knowledge as well as confidence in them, all of which can serve you well on test day.