The New MCAT is Unnecessary

Thesis: The new MCAT changes are unnecessary and probably only done for the sake of profit.

On April 17th, 2015, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) will administer the newly revised Medical College Admission Test for the very first time. This new MCAT will be longer, cover more material, and test different abilities. According to AAMC, “the changes are designed in part to mirror the evolution of health-care delivery and even the nature of illness”. This sounds great, sure, but probably unnecessary.

As a prospective medical student, I can testify to the statement that the more I learn about the medical field, the more I realize how little I actually know. An undergraduate degree is obviously in no way representative of the education that a medical school program provides. Then why is it that the AAMC is changing the MCAT in order to better reflect the evolving healthcare field? In fact, it is completely possible to study for and perform well on the current MCAT without any inkling of what a career in the healthcare field entails.

But that’s completely fine. While it sounds ideal to have students prepared for what they will face in healthcare through the MCAT, this is not the purpose of this standardized exam. The MCAT should be used to solely test the competency of students to learn and develop into people who are able to handle a career in medicine. To try and also reflect the changes in healthcare in this exam is not only overkill, but futile. Futile because the vast majority of students see these changes to the MCAT simply as more things to study and not as an opportunity to further understand the evolution of healthcare. This motive will not change, simply due to the heavy emphasis that is put on one’s MCAT score for medical school admissions.

However, these changes do cause one to wonder why they are being implemented, if it is unlikely to produce any type of real benefit. The only answer I can think of is, of course, money. An overhaul such as this to the MCAT will undoubtedly generate many sources of monetary benefits. At $300 a piece and roughly 85,000 students taking the exam per year, this translates into a $25 million industry, at minimum. The number goes up when we consider tutoring, study books, exam preparation programs, etc. A change to the MCAT as big as this would render every existing program/study tool useless, forcing more people to invest money in the newer, updated tools. This will greatly benefit the companies that supply such tools, which would be enough of an incentive to implement such changes. Similar benefits were projected with the previous SAT changes, as outlined in the article “SAT Changes Could Boost Lucrative Test Prep”.

6 thoughts on “The New MCAT is Unnecessary

  1. Linda Sun

    Usually a entrance test has two goal: 1 to test how much you already know. and 2 to test your ability to solve a problem. And usually those two things are correlated, the more knowledge you have, the easier you can solve a problem. With the development of human knowledge and abilities, the difficulty level of a entrance test is also increasing so that an institution could differentiate students (who are becoming smarter each generation). But I understand you, it is hard for those who are the first one to adjust to a new test…

  2. Thomas Wen

    I agree and I think this will discourage a lot of potential candidates who would make good doctors. This could also have adverse affects on medical schools in general if enrollment numbers fall.

  3. Matthew Hillebrand

    Standardized tests are around for multiple reasons, and increasing the difficulty of the MCAT is not a futile attempt at making better doctors. As you said, the medical field is constantly adapting, and if the students who are entering the field are not able to adapt to new testing measures, then what can the world expect of these students when they take over the field. These students should be the ones to develop new cures for cancer, fight HIV/AIDS, and many other illnesses. Continuing to do things the same just to save money could cause the medical field to lose its edge as a top tier field that requires the top tier minds.

  4. Justin Lee

    I agree with previous comments. Although changes may seem unnecessary, it should not at least hinder people to not what they pursue. And, it is not the only a “deciding” factor.

  5. KT Lee

    Seeking benefits out of standardized tests such as MCAT, GMAT, GRE, etc does hamper students with passion and determination from pursuing their dreams. It is reasonable that such a test should be somewhat difficult, but rapid changes in material, difficulty, costs would definitely establish a barrier to students.

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