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”.