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MCAT 2015 Changes: What Prospective Students Should Know

Posted by Scott Harrah
June 04, 2014

There are changes to the MCAT (Medical Colleges Admissions Test) for 2015 that anyone applying to American and Caribbean medical schools should be aware of, particularly those planning to attend in 2016 or later. The Association for American Medical Colleges (AAMC) website says the schedule for the new exam, slated to be introduced in spring 2015, will be announced this summer.

The UMHS Pulse takes a brief look at what is on MCAT 2015, based on “frequently asked questions” from the AMMC’s MCAT website.

Students no longer spend an hour writing MCAT essays. Prospective medical students at American and international medical schools are asked to “test out” 32 new questions in biochemistry, biology and chemistry; and physics or in psychology, sociology and biology. It is the last section of the test and takes 45 minutes to complete.

The 2015 MCAT exam has four sections, and a separate score will be reported for each, in addition to a total score.

The new test sections are:

  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems,
  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems,
  • Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior, and
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills.

The “Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills” is the most significant change to the MCAT 2015. It tests the reasoning and analysis skills needed for medical school. You will be required to read passages and answer questions, making you demonstrate how you comprehend, evaluate and utilize the passages, primarily the social sciences and humanities, such as ethics and cross-cultural studies.

Why is the MCAT Changing?

“In standardized testing, periodic reviews are considered a best practice, especially in fields with a rapidly-changing knowledge base like medicine. As the standardized test required by the majority of medical schools in the United States and Canada, the MCAT exam provides admissions committees with important information about their applicants’ readiness for success. Therefore, periodic updates help ensure that the exam is keeping pace with changes in the study and practice of medicine, such as new and innovative treatments, health care system reforms, and the challenges that come with serving an increasingly diverse population.”

How Will MCAT 2015 Better Prepare Doctors to Work in a Reformed Health System?

“The MCAT 2015 exam preserves what works about the current exam, eliminates what isn’t working, and further enriches the exam by giving attention to the concepts that tomorrow’s doctors will need. The natural sciences sections reflect recent changes in medical education; the addition of the social and behavioral sciences section recognizes the importance of socio-cultural and behavioral determinants of health and health outcomes; and the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section reflects the value that medical schools place on analysis, evaluation, and reasoning skills and on broad preparation for medical school.”

How Does MCAT 2015 Differ from the Current Exam?

  • “The natural sciences sections of the MCAT 2015 exam reflect new knowledge and recent changes in medical education, such as the fact that some biochemistry knowledge is helpful at entry to medical school.”
  • “The new exam includes a section on the social and behavioral sciences: Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior. The significance of this new section lies in its recognition of the crucial role that sociocultural and behavioral determinants play in our health and health outcomes.”
  • “The new Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section tests students’ analysis, evaluation, and reasoning skills and prompts them to read broadly in preparation for the MCAT exam and medical school. The passages in this section cover a wide range of topics from the social sciences and humanities, including ethics and philosophy, cross-cultural studies, and population health; however, specific subject-matter knowledge is not required.”


(Top image) Photo: Deposit Photos

About UMHS:

Built in the tradition of the best US universities, the University of Medicine and Health Sciencesfocuses on individual student attention, maintaining small class sizes and recruiting high-quality faculty. We call this unique approach, “personalized medical education,” and it’s what has led to our unprecedented 96% student retention rate, and outstanding residency placements across the US and Canada. UMHS is challenging everything you thought you knew about Caribbean medical schools.

YouTube Video on MCAT 2015 Changes

Posted by Scott Harrah

Scott is Director of Digital Content & Alumni Communications Liaison at UMHS and editor of the UMHS Endeavour blog. When he's not writing about UMHS students, faculty, events, public health, alumni and UMHS research, he writes and edits Broadway theater reviews for a website he publishes in New York City,

Topics: Admissions

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