Beginning with test dates this spring, the MCAT changed to a new format. What do you need to know about the new MCAT? How is it scored? How is it different from the old version? Here are a few points:
1. The new exam has 4 sections:
• Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
• Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
• Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
• Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills.
2. The newer version tests more material. It has been designed to integrate subjects and test your critical thinking skills, in order to test skills that are vital in med school.
3. Along with the different exam structure comes a new scoring structure. Each section will be scored 118-132, for a total possible score of 528. The mean score for each section is expected to be 125, with an overall mean score of 500.
4. The new exam is much longer than the old one: over 6 hours of testing time, and over 7 hours total.
5. Score reports will include percentile ranks.
The AAMC expects about half of this year’s applicants to submit scores from the new exam, and that this number will grow in the coming years. (They will continue to report scores from the older exam through the 2019 application cycle.) However, some schools will stop accepting the old exam before that application cycle: check with the schools you are applying to if you want to apply with an old MCAT for the 2016-17 or later application cycles.
How can committees evaluate a pool that includes some applicants with scores from the old exam, some with scores from the new exam, and some who may have two separate scores (one old and one new)? Isn’t it like comparing apples and oranges?
A bit, and that’s why AAMC advises that med schools not try to compare one with the other, but rather evaluate each applicant’s score in the context of his/her application. Also, scores from the older exam will be understandable within the framework that they always have been, and scores from the new exam can be contextualized with the help of the percentile information.
Good luck on your MCAT!