The MCAT is periodically revised (the last revision was in 1991) to reflect changes in the healthcare system, and values within the med school admissions process. A new MCAT examination is due to take effect in the Spring of 2015, which is when those starting college in the Fall of 2012 will most likely take the exam. MCAT 2015 adds new sections on scientific inquiry, reasoning, research methods and statistics skills, and foundational concepts in social and behavioral sciences, the latter of which reflects a more holistic approach to patient care. For perhaps the first time in the MCAT’s history, recognition is given to the importance of empathy, and the understanding of how diversity, culture, demographics, and other social and psychological factors impact societal well-being and health.
For an excellent overview of the new exam, read what the president of the AAMC, the parent organization that produces the MCAT, has to say about the new exam here. Also, be sure to learn about the new exam at the AAMC website, and do so early in your college career so that you can plan for taking the courses you need to do well on the exam.
There will be four sections of the exam:
- Biological & Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
- Chemical & Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
- Psychological, Social, & Biological Foundations of Behavior
- Critical Analysis & Reasoning Skills
The first section tests knowledge of foundational concepts in the biological and biochemical sciences with skills in scientific inquiry, reasoning, research, and statistics to solve problems that demonstrate readiness for medical school. Questions will be written to test both knowledge and skills.
The second section tests foundational concepts in the chemical and physical sciences, again with skills in scientific inquiry, reasoning, and research and statistics.
The content of both of these sections is usually covered in one year of general chemistry, one year of introductory physics, one year of organic chemistry, one year of biology, and a one semester course in biochemistry.
The third section of the exam tests knowledge and use of the concepts in psychology, sociology, biology, research methods, and statistics that provide a solid foundation for learning in medical school about the behavioral and socio-cultural determinants of health and health outcomes. Exam content in this section typically taught in introductory psychology, introductory sociology, and introductory biology.
Finally, the last section of the exam asks you to critically analyze, evaluate, and apply information presented in a passage, testing skills in comprehension, evaluation, application, and incorporation of information.
Detailed information about the MCAT 2015 content, structure, grading, and sample questions can be found in the “Preview Guide for MCAT2015”. As the exam develops, this guide will be periodically revised. Again, check out the MCAT 2015 website, another excellent resource to learn the latest information about the exam. Be sure to read the links on the nav bar to the left: “Test Sections,” “Preparation Materials,” FAQs,” and “MCAT Review Process.”