Students prepare for longer version of MCAT

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Test preparation authorities recently announced that pre-medical students will tackle a longer, harder version of the MCAT this April that is designed to better prepare students for medical school.

Kaplan Test Prep, a company that has provided resources to prepare students to take standardized tests since 1938, said in a press release that this is the first major change to the MCAT since 1992. The new version of the Medical College Admissions Test is double the length of the old test, covers more material and has a new scoring scale.

“The amount of questions has increased from 144 questions in 3 hours and 20 minutes to 230 questions in 6 hours and 15 minutes,” Kaplan’s MCAT specialist Owen Farcy said. “The new test is focused on stamina and the study of new material.”

Farcy said the changes to the test would better prepare students for medical school.

“A misconception that students have about the MCAT is that it is a science test,” Farcy said. “It’s not a science test. It is a critical-thinking and reasoning test with a scientific context.”

The new MCAT includes material covering psychology, sociology and biochemistry, increasing the prerequisite classes from eight to 11. Senior microbiology major Jeny Pattison will take the exam this coming summer and said she has had to rearrange her schedule in order to study the new material.

“I had to take sociology, which I wasn’t planning on,” Pattison said. “I am also trying to decide whether I need to take biochem or if my other classes will cover enough of the material that I will be fine.”

Neuroscience major Bryce Owen said he also had to rearrange his schedule.

“I’ve had to take a couple more classes, and I don’t have time to take sociology; so instead I am just going to have to figure out how to study it from a book,” Owen said. “It tacks on a lot more extra study time.”

Owen and Pattison both talked about some concerns they had as they approach the new MCAT. Owen said he was freaked out when he first heard about the length of the test and hopes he can be successful despite all the changes.

“Beyond the sheer amount of information that needs to be known, a major concern is just getting the score I want,” Owen said. “It is such a huge part of being able to get into a med school.”

Pattison said she is also concerned how the new scoring scale will affect her admissions to medical school.

“I am just wondering how the new scores will correlate with the old scores,” Pattison said. “I am applying to the same semester of med school as my friends who took the old test, so it will be interesting to see how they will compare.”

Farcy is able to talk with medical school admission officers on a daily basis and said the new test will continue to carry the same weight in the admissions process.

“Studying for this test is a very important part of applying to med school,” Farcy said. “It is important to study for a minimum of three months because it carries a lot of weight in the admissions process.”

The new test has an increased registration cost of $300, and registration for the April test opens Feb. 11. In order to ensure that there are enough test takers to map out a scoring scale for the new test, the Association of American Medical Colleges is offering April test-takers a $150 Amazon gift card.

“Knowing that, I may as well just take the test in April and see how it goes,” Pattison said.

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