Registration for the new, more rigorous MCAT opens February, and it is causing anxiety among pre-med students at the University preparing for the exam.
The MCAT, or the Medical College Admission Test, is designed to assess an undergraduate’s intellectual abilities and “knowledge of science concepts and principles required for the study of medicine,” according to the exam’s official website.
The new version of the MCAT covers more material, including psychology and sociology. It has 230 questions, as opposed to 144, and is graded according to a different scoring scale of 528 total points, instead of 45. The test also contains new sections, including research design, graphical analysis and data interpretation.
Students will begin taking the new MCAT in April. In previous years, the test was administered in January. A common fear among students is the uncertainty surrounding the new test. Janelle Laqui, human development and family sciences senior, said the ambiguity surrounding the content of the exam is intimidating.
“Hearing about a new MCAT stressed me out because there would be fewer people you could get feedback from,” Laqui said.
Christine Ku, sociology and Plan II junior, shares similar feelings of apprehension. She said she believes she and her classmates are being used to test the new version of the test.
“My class is the ‘guinea pig class’,” Ku said. “It’s all very new and overwhelming. The new MCAT challenges a student’s test-taking stamina.”
Ku has known about the proposed changes for a year-and-a-half and has been preparing by using Kaplan materials designed for the new version. She said she finds the new test more intimidating because it covers biology, organic chemistry and biochemistry in more depth.
While the new MCAT is causing many students to feel wary, the new version of the test has not changed many professors’ approaches to teaching their pre-med courses. Inder Saxena, a lecturer in the Biology Instructional Office in the College of Natural Sciences, said his lectures will continue to cater to all students at the University, regardless of the new MCAT’s potential difficulty.
“[BIO 325] is designed for all upper-division biology majors, not just pre-med students,” Saxena said. “The material covered will be helpful on the MCAT or in any case.”