Healthcare is a dynamic field of study and professional realization. With the fast pace of scientific progress, the significant demographic, economic and policy changes that affect us nationally, the medical and other health professions have the great responsibility to ensure they prepare competent health professionals and leaders for the future. Healthcare practice is moving from a physician-centered to a team-based model. The social determinants of health are as important for patients' and communities' well-being as scientific expertise.
Medical professionals, educators and admission officials recognize the need to adapt pre-medical and medical education to the changing needs of the profession and the patients. Several initiatives undertaken in the past few years have resulted in a new format for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) and a clear articulation of the scientific and personal competencies necessary for success in medical school and practice. The new MCAT will replace the current one in spring 2015 and medical schools will announce changes (if any) to their evaluation of applications based on competencies in the coming years. Unlike the MCAT 2015, medical schools will likely not have a uniform set of expectations for the way applicants demonstrate their competencies. Their differences are not likely to be significant, however, and the overarching goal of this reform is to make the admission process more inclusive and holistic.
The Medical College Admission Test 2015 (MCAT 2015)
The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) has undergone several revisions since its inception but has not been reformed since 1991. In response to the growth and inter-dependence of scientific knowledge, as well as the need to serve a progressively more diverse population, the MCAT will be modified in spring 2015. The new exam will apply to all current first-year students and sophomores. The exam will consist of 4 sections:
- Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
- 59 items, 95 minutes
- Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
- 59 items, 95 minutes
- Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
- 59 items, 95 minutes
- Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
- 53 items, 90 minutes
The first two sections test concepts in biology, general and organic chemistry as well as biochemistry. The content knowledge expected of you is not fundamentally different from the current exam format. An emphasis will be placed on drawing connections between the concepts you have learned in these various disciplines and the overall context of medicine and living systems. Following the pre-medical/health careers courses should give you a solid foundation.
The third section is new to the MCAT exam and will draw on knowledge you gain from work in courses such as sociology, psychology, or community health. Foundational courses in Community Health, Sociology, or Psychology would be helpful in preparing for this section of the test. Interspersed throughout the exam will be questions that draw on your familiarity with statistics.
The fourth section, while new, draws on experience with critical reading and writing. It does not test any specific subject matter. You will be asked to analyze, evaluate and apply information from a range of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. Courses with extensive reading and writing, as well as critical analysis will give you the skills you need to do well on this section. We also recommend that you embrace liberal learning at Brown and read consistently and broadly academic journals or periodicals in a breadth of fields for your own personal growth. These will help you develop the analytical skills to do well on this portion of the MCAT 2015
All questions are designed to test one of the following four skills:
- Knowledge of scientific concepts and principles
- Scientific reasoning and evidence-based problem solving
- Reasoning about the design and execution of research
- Data-based and statistical reasoning
*** See bottom of page for exam preparation resources***
MCAT 2015 Scoring
For detailed information from AAMC, click here.
Test takers will receive five scores from their MCAT exams: one for each of the four sections and one combined total score. The AAMC envisions a score report that will bring together MCAT scores, percentile ranks, confidence bands, and score profiles in a way that highlights aplicants' strengths and weaknesses. Click here to view a prototype score report.*
Section Scores: Each of the four sections—Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems; Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills; Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems; and Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior—will be scored from a low of 118 to a high of 132, with a midpoint of 125. Test takers will receive scores for each of the four sections.
Total Score: Scores for the four sections will be combined to create a total score. The total score will range from 472 to 528. The midpoint is 500.
Confidence Intervals: The new exam will use confidence intervals to remind score users to use scores in a way that recognizes the inherent imperfections in the test.
Percentiles: In addition to scores and confidence intervals, test takers will receive percentiles on the MCAT2015 exam. Percentile ranks will be reported for the total and section scores so examinees can see how they compare to others who took the new exam.
Score Profiles: Score profiles that show test takers' strengths and weaknesses on the new exam also will be provided.
Score Release: The scores from the first test administrations in April and May will be released on June 16 and June 30, respectively. Test scores from June exam dates will be released on July 21. AMCAS will transmit the first processed primary applications to individual medical schools in early July. This allows applicants who have taken the MCAT exam in April or May to receive their scores prior to submitting their applications without being at a disadvantege relative to other applicants.
Prepare for the MCAT 2015
The MCAT requires content knowledge which you acquire in your courses and subsequent preparation for the exam itself. Test takers should complete all necessary courses and dedicate 2-3 months of intensive exam preparation before taking the MCAT.
Applicants to medical school generally take the exam in early fall (August- September) in the year before applying to medical school or in late spring (April- May) just prior to the beginning of the application process in June. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to prepare well for the exam. All test scores remain on your record and are reported to all medical schools to which you apply. Take the exam only when you are best prepared. Explore the Applicants section for details about the application process and Brown's robust support.
We strongly recommend you use the excellent and free preparation resources below.
- AAMC MCAT 2015 website
- AAMC MCAT Essentials for Testing Year 2015
- AAMC the Official Guide to the MCAT 2015 Exam, which can be purchased on its own or in a bundle with web-based test questions. (Available May 2014)
- AAMC Online MCAT 2015 Practice Questions (Available July 2014)
- AAMC Official MCAT 2015 Practice Test (Available October 2014)
- Khan Academy, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, AAMC Collaboration MCAT 2015 preparation materials for test takers. (Available Spring 2014).
- AAMC medEdportal student page (Available Spring 2014)
- AAMC MCAT 2015 FAQ
Learn More About the Design of the Test
To learn more about the the reform to competency-based medical education explore:
- Scientific Foundations for Future Physicians (Howard Hughes Medical Institute and AAMC)
- AAMC Behavioral and Social Science Foundations for Future Physicians
- AAMC What's on the new MCAT Exam
- AAMC Testing Academic Competencies with the MCAT 2015 Exam
- AAMC The New Score Scales for the 2015 MCAT Exam
- AAMC MR5 Innovation Lab Working Group Recommendations. The original report leading to the re-design of the MCAT exam.