The PREview exam is a type of situational judgment test designed to help admissions committees assess applicants’ pre-professional competencies. Unlike quantitative measures, such as the MCAT and one’s GPA, the PREview exam attempts to evaluate the qualitative, or “soft,” skills believed to be just as important for future physicians. Thus, used in conjunction with other quantitative measures, the PREview can help flesh out an applicant’s profile and gives admissions committees a more holistic picture of them.
The competencies to be assessed in the 2024 AAMC PREview exam include the following:
- Commitment to Learning and Growth
- Cultural Awareness
- Cultural Humility
- Empathy and Compassion
- Ethical Responsibility to Self and Others
- Interpersonal Skills
- Reliability and Dependability
- Resilience and Adaptability
- Teamwork and Collaboration
Do I need to take the PREview exam?
Only students who plan to apply to schools that require the PREview exam should take it.
In the 2023 application cycle, the PREview exam was required by eight allopathic medical schools and recommended by eleven more. Because the PREview is relatively new, other schools accepted it for research purposes. The only osteopathic program recommending PREview is the Des Moines University Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine program. These schools are expected to continue using the PREview exam, and more are likely to be added.
Please check the website and MSAR (Medical School Admission Requirements) profile of the schools to which you are applying to learn whether they use the PREview exam and whether they require, recommend, or accept it for research only.
When do I take the PREview, and what does it cost?
The test is offered twice a month from March to September. Registration for all test dates is open beginning January 31st and closes a few weeks before the test date.
The AAMC PREview costs $100 for most applicants and is free for FAP (financial assistance program) participants. You can reschedule your exam, as long as other test dates are still available. There is a $25 fee to reschedule. If you need to cancel your exam completely, you will receive a 50% refund.
What is PREview’s format?
PREview is an online exam that is monitored by a remote proctor. The test portion is 75 minutes long, with no break (unless accommodation is requested beforehand), but examinees should allow 90 minutes for the entire process, including pre- and post-test procedures.
The exam day starts with examinees showing their photo ID and having their identity verified by the proctor.
The test then begins, presenting 30 written scenarios and 186 questions. To answer the questions, examinees must decide on the “effectiveness” of possible responses or behaviors.
Each question has four potential answers:
- Very ineffective
- Very effective
The tricky part is that some scenarios have more than four possible responses or behaviors, which means that you might assign the same answer to several of the offered responses. In other words, for a single scenario, you might decide that two of the responses presented are effective, two are ineffective, one is very effective, and three are very ineffective. You will get full credit when you match the best response, and partial credit for being “close to” the best response for each item. For example, if the right answer is “effective,” you can get partial credit for choosing “very effective.”
Additionally, a response that might be “very effective” to the person doing it might be scored as “ineffective” if it means putting a burden on someone else or creating a problem in the future. You might want to interpret “effective” as a response that promotes the common good, rather than what is good for the individual.
Ultimately, the only way to truly understand what the test considers “effective” is by taking the practice test. Reviewing the rationale for each answer will help you better understand what the exam is looking for.
How do I prepare for PREview?
- Sign up for a test date once you have decided to apply to one of the participating schools.
- Review the AAMC PREview examinee preparation guide. Understand what the nine core competencies are and how they can affect decision-making.
- Take the full-length practice exam. This is a critical step! While each scenario can have several responses that seem effective, only some of these will earn full points.
- Complete the online testing system tutorial (this allows you to test your equipment) as many times as you want before the exam.
- Arrive 15 minutes early, and have a clean workspace and no applications open on your computer.
How and when are PREview scores released?
Scores are released about a month after the exam is taken. They are visible only to schools participating in the PREview. Scores are not expected to expire, but each participating school decides for itself how many years it will consider a score valid.
As with every aspect of applying to medical school, the PREview exam is just one piece of a complex puzzle. To do well, make sure you understand the nine core competencies and why they are important. This is accomplished by taking the practice exam and studying the rationale behind each answer. As a side benefit, the PREview exam might even introduce you to skills you can use in your future practice as a physician!
Maximize your chances of getting accepted to medical school by working with a medical school admissions expert who will guide you through every step of the application process. Check out our Medical School Application Services to find out how we can help you get ACCEPTED.
Since 2001, Cydney Foote has advised hundreds of successful applicants for medical and dental education, residency and fellowship training, and other health-related degrees. Admissions consulting combines her many years of creating marketing content with five years on fellowship and research selection committees at the University of Washington School of Medicine. She’s also shared her strategy for impressing interviewers in a popular webinar and written three books and numerous articles on the admissions process. Want Cydney to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!
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