MCAT may see curriculum overhaul

The association that oversees medical schools and colleges released preliminary recommendations to overhaul the Medical College Admission Test, commonly referred to as the MCAT, suggesting a broader approach to testing applicants’ scientific knowledge and reasoning skills.

The Association of American Medical Colleges made 14 recommendations that, if used, would place more emphasis on the understanding of both social sciences and natural sciences and test students’ abilities to apply their knowledge and make quick decisions.

The review process began in 2008, when the association formed an advisory panel of medical school deans, admissions officers, clinical sciences faculty and others, to review the more than a decade-old test.

“It’s just common practice to look at the test every 15 years,” Karen Mitchell, senior director of admissions testing services for AAMC, said.

After holding more than 75 outreach events, Mitchell said the committee’s recommendations “effect a nice balance between things that people have been asking for.”

“The committee is working really hard to make the test show how students will use knowledge, how to use evidence to make decisions, and how to apply scientific thinking,” Mitchell said.

With the preliminary results released, the committee will engage in more than a dozen council, group, social and association meetings over the next few months to gauge the reaction from the medical community.

The committee will discuss its final recommendations at the AAMC’s annual meeting in early November. The association’s leadership will then formally propose recommendations to its board of directors in February 2012.

If approved, the changes will be incorporated into the 2015 MCAT exam.

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