Changes proposed to MCAT

By Patrick Thompson

Proposals are being made to update the Medical College Admissions Test to reflect current science and information that is timely and important for medical students.

Carol Elam, the associate dean for Admissions and Institutional Advancement and the director of Medical Education Research, said since 1928, the MCAT has been offered to prospective medical students to measure if students have adequate knowledge of scientific principles.

The American Association of Medical Colleges is now proposing updates to reflect changes in the scientific community.

Eddie Wells, a 2010 graduate of Vanderbilt University, has recently taken the MCAT.

“I think the changes will likely prepare students better, seeing as how more emphasis will be given to subject matters that they will focus on during med school,” Wells said.

According to Elam, the updated MCAT will emphasize molecular and cellular properties of living systems as well as biochemical properties. A new section will be added that will cover behavioral and social sciences.

“This new section will test students’ abilities involving research methods and statistics,” Elam said.

Elam said the proposed MCAT will consist of four test sections: molecular, cellular and organismal properties of living systems; physical, chemical and biochemical properties of living systems; behavioral and social science principles; and critical analysis and reasoning skills.

Wells said he believed that the information being proposed for the updated MCAT would have given him an advantage in medical school.

“The MCAT tested solely on biology, chemistry and physics. I took many more social and behavioral science classes than I did for those three subjects,” he said.

Elam said the MCAT is being updated so that prospective medical students are better prepared for medical school.

“It is a standardized measure of students’ knowledge regardless of major or institution,” she said.

The proposed changes are in the process of discussion, and will be introduced in 2015.