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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

September 26, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

News

Medical association revamps exam to reflect social changes

The Association of American Medical Colleges is altering the exam content and length of the medical school admission test to reflect changes in society and new standards at medical schools across the country.

The Medical College Admission Test is a comprehensive exam
administered by the AAMC to determine a student’s aptitude in
problem solving, critical thinking and knowledge of scientific concepts.

Mike Haaf, chair of the Pre-Med Advisory Committee at Ithaca College, said the new test will focus on competency as opposed to a rigid core of courses because medical schools are focusing more on proficiency — such as field experience — than a checklist of classes.

“Medical schools generally won’t accept a candidate who hasn’t seen the inside of a hospital or seen what a doctor does,” he said. “A student these days must have some sort of shadowing or clinical experience.”

Haaf said the incoming freshman class will be the first to face the revised MCAT. The first students to take it will be those applying for medical school in spring 2015.

John Bradac, director of Career Services, said the exam has changed before. In 2003, the AAMC eliminated some of the organic chemistry focus and increased the level of genetics on the test, responding to medical school demand. In 2007, the examination went from a seven and a half hour test to a four and a half hour test.

“We used to administer the MCAT here in an eight-hour long test, then it went to an integrated and computerized model where students can take it online, and now it’s changing again,” he said.

These changes reflect the changes in society and demand. According to the AAMC, addition of new sections recognize the importance of socio-cultural and behavioral impacts on health care. This includes the idea of being able to work and communicate effectively with people, as well as an understanding of different cultures.

From 2006 to 2010, 63.4 percent of pre-med students at the college who applied to medical school were accepted.

Andy Smith, associate professor and chair of the Department of Biology, said preparation for the MCAT will change, and the Pre-Med Advisory Committee at the college will have to reconsider the prerequisites for the pre-med program.

The current prerequisites are a year of chemistry, biology, physics, organic chemistry and English. With this change, that list can be expected to include a year of psychology and sociology.

However, these are classes that many students will be taking anyway, Smith said.

“Through the comprehensive nature of the college, every student is required to seek out integrated courses. I think those course requirements easily put our students right into the fold,” Bradac said.