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MCAT Will Be Lengthened In 2015 To Include More Subjects

For The Heights

Published: Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01

As the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) plans major changes in the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), Boston College prepares its own program to accommodate students.

The current test covers an extensive amount of material, from organic chemistry to biology. BC's pre-medical curriculum is sensitive to this expansive amount of knowledge and helps students who are considering medical school choose and succeed in the necessary courses.

According to the AAMC and Kaplan Test Prep, by 2015, the MCATs will cover even more science material, such as biochemistry and statistics, taking about two hours longer to complete. This makes a challenging test even more strenuous for potential applicants.

In a survey conducted by Kaplan in 2011, 73 percent of medical school admissions officers said that they believed the changes being proposed would help students during medical school. However, the question of whether or not universities with pre-med programs will be able to provide adequate resources to prepare their students is a concern.

According to Kaplan, BC students comprise one of the highest applicant pools in the country. The upcoming changes in the exam will primarily affect current freshmen and sophomores, requiring them to retain even more knowledge than before.

"Our pre-medical program already advises students to take coursework in these areas [biochemistry and statistics], so I don't see much of a problem," Robert Wolff, director of BC's pre-med program, said.

The program also suggests appropriate course listings in these departments and provides detailed packets on how pre-med students can maximize their four years of undergraduate education.

Wolff's main concern regarding the proposed changes is that the overwhelming science requirements might strain non-science majors.

"Liberal arts students, like English or history majors, will have to take more courses when applying to medical school," Wolff said. "They would need to take more sciences-that's a lot."

The AAMC's committee for the fifth review of the MCATs provided reasons for change in their proposal of the new test.

It argues that the new material "communicates the need for students who are prepared to deal with the human and social issues of medicine," and they stress the necessity of intensive reading in a variety of topics to prepare for medical school.

BC's pre-med staff is already planning ahead for these changes, although it is unclear whether these changes will be made on time, if at all.

Students are strongly advised, though not required, to take a class in biochemistry and statistics, as well as courses in sociology and psychology.

"As [the new material] becomes more specific, we certainly will keep our pre-medical students at BC well-informed," Wolff said.

The committee for revision will meet with the AAMC board for approval of these changes in February 2012.

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