The 2015 MCAT — What’s the Big Buzz?

November 1, 2012
Alex Macnow

MCAT 2015

The 2012 AAMC Annual Meeting is this weekend in San Francisco.  This meeting-of-the-minds hosts some of the greatest physician-educators of our time, and stands as an important point each year that decides the future of how medical education – your medical education – will work.  One of the major topics on this year’s agenda is the new MCAT2015.

The information released so far about this dramatic change in the exam is highlighted in the Preview Guide for the MCAT2015 Exam.  These changes are especially notable for those of you who are freshmen and will likely be taking this exam.  So, while this change is a little while off, it’s always important to know what’s coming.  This serves as an update from our earlier entry “Keeping Up with the MCAT Test Changes,” and will likely be supplemented as we learn more about the 2015 MCAT.

So what’s different in the new MCAT?

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  • The sections have been scrambled.  While students taking the current MCAT start out with the “hard science” of light and optics, electrochemistry and kinematics, the new MCAT will start with a Biology- and Biochemistry-oriented section.  For many of you, this may be a welcome change – you’re often starting on content you feel a little more familiarity with; however, notice that the new Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (similar to the current Verbal Reasoning section) now falls at the tail end of the exam.
  • There’s new content – lots of it!  AAMC has officially dropped the Writing Sample from the MCAT already, and will be replacing it with a new section.  In Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior, students will have to cover knowledge often taught in first-year psychology and sociology courses.  A heavy focus on research design, bias, and statistical analysis will pervade all science sections of the test.  And first-year biochemistry – which previously made minimal appearance on the MCAT – will make up 25% of the Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems.
  • It’s getting longer, in both time and questions.  The three science sections will contain 67 questions each (up from 52 currently) and 95 minutes will be allotted to finish the sections.  The CARS section will be 60 questions (up from 40 currently) and 90 minutes.  This represents almost two additional hours of testing time.
  • It shows you why you’re learning this content!  Passages will now be written to test science concepts in the context of living systems.  In other words, fluid dynamics could be tested as an underlying theme in cardiovascular physiology; solution chemistry via its furthering our understanding of urolithiasis (formation of kidney and bladder stones); and enantiomerism by playing a role in medication design and effectiveness.

While these changes are significant, there’s no need to worry.  We’ll continue preparing students for success on the MCAT, and the new MCAT2015 course will be no exception.  With all the developments occurring on the new exam, we’d love to hear from you – what are you excited for or nervous about on this new exam?

Alex Macnow

Alex Macnow I graduated from Boston University with a BA in Musicology and am currently a fourth year in medical school at the University of Pennsylvania. I took Kaplan to prep for my MCAT. After such a great experience with my course, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to teach and tutor hundreds of pre-health students for the MCAT, DAT, OAT and PCAT in both our Boston – Haymarket and Philadelphia Kaplan Centers. I am one of the Content Managers for Kaplan's new MCAT 2015 course. When I’m not preparing for residency or teaching MCAT, I enjoy playing classical piano, exploring new cuisines and traveling on road trips.

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