For the first time in more than 20 years, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), which administers the MCAT exam, has approved changes to the test that will take effect in 2015. Any student considering medical school in the next few years should be aware of these changes, as they will have an impact not only on how you study for the exam, but also on your course selection in college and your academic path overall.
Notably, the MCAT is placing more of an emphasis on the social sciences than it has in the past. On the 2015 exam, in addition to two sections on the Natural Sciences, there are going to be two new sections: Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior (yes, that is the name of one section) and Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills. The Writing Sample section will be eliminated. In all, the updated exam will be about an hour longer.
With the addition of Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior, and Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills, the AAMC is recognizing that health is influenced not only by purely biological and natural science factors, but also by our psychology, behavior, society, and culture. The two sections will test students’ accumulated knowledge in the social sciences, and also their reasoning ability in social science disciplines through analysis of various passages.
Considering the coming changes to the MCAT, it’s important to reflect on how this could change your academic trajectory. Physicians are expected to be well-versed in more than the sciences, and to have a more holistic worldview. If you are considering a career in the medical profession, be sure to include a solid base in the humanities and social sciences in your college coursework. This will help prepare you to take the MCAT, and ensure you have covered the breadth of knowledge and skills that will be expected of you in medical school and beyond.