Kaplan Test Prep Survey: Does the New MCAT® Better Help Medical Schools Evaluate Applicants’ Potential to Succeed? Most Admissions Officers Say it’s Too Soon to Tell

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Press Contacts: Russell Schaffer, russell.schaffer@kaplan.com, 212.453.7538
Twitter @KapTestNews, @KaplanMCATPrep

New York, NY (October 25, 2016) — Kaplan Test Prep’s 2016 survey of 68 medical schools across North America finds that 43% believe the new MCAT, which launched in April 2015, enables them to better evaluate applicants’ potential to succeed in their program than the old exam.* While the majority (56%) are taking a wait-and-see approach, responding that they are “unsure,” only 1% of admissions officers say the new test worsens their ability to evaluate applicants’ potential to succeed. Those who believe the new test has improved their ability to evaluate applicants noted the “broader variety of topics” tested, a better “focus on what the applicant has learned in school rather than rote memory,” and the addition of “biochem, sociology and psych that are beneficial to medical school.” However, as medical schools begin just their second application cycle in which students are submitting scores from the revised exam, the majority view is that there is still “not enough data” and it is “too early to tell.”

In addition to being almost twice as long as the old MCAT, the current MCAT has a different scoring scale and tests students on additional content in biochemistry, psychology and sociology. These were the biggest changes to the test in 25 years. According to the makers of the exam, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the new exam was launched to better reflect the changing landscape of healthcare and medicine.

“Even though the test changed 18 months ago, this fall’s entering class is the first cohort of medical students who could have submitted new MCAT scores as part of their application. As schools receive more and more scores from the new MCAT, and they are able to see how candidates reporting new scores perform in their programs over time, it’s likely their opinions will shift to a more favorable view, said Eric Chiu, executive director of pre-medical programs, Kaplan Test Prep.

Additional Kaplan survey data supports this hypothesis. Only 47% of medical schools say a majority of their applicants during the last cycle submitted scores from the new MCAT, but 93% predict a majority of their applicants from the current cycle will. “Additional data will give medical schools the data they need to conduct additional research on the new MCAT’s benefits,” said Chiu. Nearly half of medical schools surveyed say they plan to conduct longitudinal research to gauge the usefulness and effectiveness of the new MCAT.

Chiu also points out that despite this uncertainty, medical schools say that MCAT performance remains the most important admissions factor with 46% naming a low score as “the biggest application deal breaker.” A low undergraduate GPA placed second at 32%. “One thing medical schools are certain about is the MCAT’s importance in the admissions process. The MCAT continues to be a key indicator of applicants’ academic potential,” said Chiu.

Medical schools are not the only ones using longitudinal research to improve their efforts. Chiu explains: “In addition to this most recent survey of medical schools, we’ve also been collecting data from the tens of thousands of students who have prepped with Kaplan for the new MCAT to inform our recently released third-edition books and MCAT prep programs, including our new Winter Intensive Program. As registration just opened for January through June 2017 test dates last week, Kaplan students can rest assured that they will have the most up-to-date preparation as they work towards 2017 test dates.”

Kaplan’s latest research comes as the company’s prepares to hold its first-ever MCAT Prepathon, on Sunday, October 30. Join fellow aspiring doctors from around the world as Kaplan’s top-rated instructors provide eight hours of live, interactive MCAT prep for free. A recording will be available for those who miss the livestreaming event. To register, visit: https://www.kaptest.com/mcatprepathon. It also comes as Kaplan launches its revised MCAT course for the new exam, which was honed after feedback from thousands of test takers.

For more information about Kaplan’s survey results, contact Russell Schaffer at russell.schaffer@kaplan.com or 212.453.7538.

*The survey was conducted by phone between August and October 2016 of admissions officers at 68 accredited medical schools in the U.S. and Canada, all of which require the MCAT.

MCAT® is a registered trademark of the Association of American Medical Colleges, which is not affiliated with Kaplan or this survey.

About Kaplan Test Prep

Kaplan Test Prep (www.kaptest.com) is a premier provider of educational and career services for individuals, schools and businesses. Established in 1938, Kaplan is the world leader in the test prep industry. With a comprehensive menu of online offerings as well as a complete array of print books and digital products, Kaplan offers preparation for more than 100 standardized tests, including entrance exams for secondary school, college and graduate school, as well as professional licensing exams for attorneys, physicians and nurses. Kaplan also provides private tutoring and graduate admissions consulting services.

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