According to a study in JAMA, students who took extra time on the MCAT (due to disability) were admitted to medical school at the same rate as other students, but later earned lower average scores on the USMLE Step Exams and took longer to graduate.
Researchers looked at data from 1991-2015, and studied the MCAT information (and subsequent academic achievement) of applicants who received extra time on the exam, compared with those who took the standard time. They found that while admission rates were not significantly different between these two groups, students who used extra time on the MCAT had lower pass rates on their first attempt taking the USMLE exams (Step 1, 82% vs 94%; Step 2 CK, 86% vs 95%; Step 2 CS, 92% vs 97%). They also graduated at lower rates, and took longer to do so: after 4 years, 67 percent vs 86 percent; 5 years, 82 percent vs 94 percent; 6 years, 85 percent vs 96 percent; 7 years, 88 percent vs 96 percent; and 8 years, 88 percent vs 97 percent.
Researchers suggest that the new MCAT, which provides more time per question, might help ensure that the exam functions as a more accurate predictor, by alleviating some people’s need to request extra time.
They also suggested that the gaps illuminated by the study indicate that medical schools could do a better job creating a supportive learning environment for students with disabilities.