MCAT revamp increases workload

After major changes to the 2015 Medical College Admission Test, or MCAT, MSU premedical students might have a bigger workload, but it could better prepare them for their career in the field of medicine.

According to Kaplan Test Prep’s 2012 survey, 40 percent of medical school admissions officers said premedical students’ work loads will increase because of these changes, while 74 percent said the new MCAT will better prepare students for medical school.

The survey was conducted by anonymously questioning 75 medical school admissions officers out of the 141 schools in the Association of American Medical Colleges, or AAMC, said Owen Farcy, Kaplan Test Prep’s director of pre-health programs.

Earlier this year, the AAMC approved changes to the MCAT to be applied to the 2015 test, including the addition of a social and behavioral sciences section, an emphasis on advanced science concepts, such as biochemistry, and more content in the critical thinking portion.

“(Medical school admissions officers) believe that it’s going to help better prepare medical students for medical school,” Farcy said.

According to Kaplan Test Prep’s 2012 survey of medical school admissions officers, 87 percent of admissions officers support the changes to the 2015 MCAT.

Dean of the College of Human Medicine Marsha Rappley said she supports the changes to the 2015 MCAT.

“It’s much more about thinking and analyzing skills rather than memorization,” Rappley said.

Rappley said the College of Human Medicine does not have a cut-off for a student’s MCAT scores.

She said admissions will continue to take a “holistic approach” to reviewing applications after the MCAT changes, but the score still will be an important factor.

“(We try) to capture the type of qualities we need in physicians,” Rappley said.

Alexander Palffy, psychology and human biology senior and president of the Pre-Medical Association at MSU, said in an email he took the MCAT last spring.

Palffy said he thinks the results of the survey were believable, but he questions the motivations of Kaplan Test Prep’s survey.

“Kaplan would be likely to benefit from pre-meds perceiving the MCAT getting harder and thus wanting to seek more help in preparation,” he said.

Palffy said the changes to the MCAT will be catered more to what admissions officers are looking for in an application.

“I’ve heard more and more advisers and admissions officers say that behavioral sciences are important when it comes to practicing medicine, and that medical schools are adding behavioral science to an already heavy course load,” Palffy said in the email.

Rappley said students should begin their medical school application early.

“Two years out is a good time to start thinking, ‘Do I have the things that I need?’” Rappley said. “It’s not something you say, ‘Gee, I’ll apply to this school.’”

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