Guest post by Bryan Schnedeker, the National MCAT Director at Next Step Test Preparation.
Change is a scary thing. So understandably, when the AAMC announced sweeping new changes to the MCAT, many were apprehensive. After all, the new test is nearly twice as long and will include subjects that have never before been on the MCAT – psychology, sociology, and biochemistry.
These are not just random changes however. They are designed to benefit you as a pre-med student and a future doctor. Here are three reasons to be excited about the upcoming MCAT change.
One: The new MCAT will better prepare you for med school.
Preparing for this new MCAT will go a long way towards preparing you for the experiences you’ll have in med school. On the old exam, it was common to get physics passages that were about entirely abstract situations with no connection to either real physics, or certainly not to medical science.
I used to routinely joke with my students, “Don’t worry, no patient will ever present to the clinic with an inflamed velocity vector.”
Two: The new MCAT understands you as a pre-med student.
The new MCAT will align much more with the experiences of pre-med students. The overwhelming majority of pre-med students major in biology or a closely related field. While the new exam will still have physics, chemistry, and organic chemistry, it will present those topics in the context of biology or biological systems. For example, it may still include the general chemistry classic, “acid-base titrations”, but instead of giving the students a descriptive passage about an experiment in a test tube, the test will discuss the acid-base buffer system in the blood. That will allow students to still apply what they learned during freshman chemistry, but also pull in ideas from physiology. Making connections to biology topics will help ensure that students are rewarded for cross-disciplinary thinking and will make them more comfortable by dealing with content in a more familiar context.
Three: the new MCAT will shake up the test prep landscape.
Prior to 2015, the test hadn’t significantly changed since 1991. This means that a few large players arose over two decades and developed a stranglehold on the MCAT. Students used to be confronted with the feeling that their only option for high quality test prep were expensive books or a prep course.
Today, the AAMC is in the middle of an ambitious project to shake up that situation. They are partnering with Khan Academy to develop a robust free program that will let any student prepare thoroughly for the new exam. While there will still be a need for more robust MCAT preparation services, students will have a great free option when preparing for the MCAT.
All in all, this is an exciting (and a little scary!) time to be a pre-med. You’ll be facing a test that has been designed specifically for a future doctor. The MCAT has always been a challenging test, now it is just changing a bit. So have you thought about when you’re going to take your MCAT? Regardless of what version you take have you thought about how you’re going to prepare?
Bryan Schnedeker is the National MCAT Director at Next Step Test Preparation, a company that specializes in 1-on-1 tutoring for the MCAT. Bryan has taught the MCAT for over a decade and has scored a 44 on the test himself.
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