Medical Students / JMOsNews / Opinion

Doctor and Patient: In search of a better MCAT –

Recently the college-age daughter of a friend talked to me about her dream of becoming a doctor. She was doing well as a psychology major and in her pre-medical courses, was working as a research assistant for a pediatrician at a nearby medical school and volunteered on the cancer ward at a children’s hospital.
I was impressed.

But her enthusiasm dipped sharply when she told me she was preparing for the MCATs, the Medical College Admission Test, the required standardized test that measures mastery of the pre-medical curriculum. She was putting all her extracurricular work on hold so she could focus on reviewing biology, physics, chemistry and organic chemistry for the exam. “Does my ability to memorize the Krebs cycle and Bernoulli’s equation really have anything to do with what kind of doctor I’ll be?” she asked.
The answer, it turns out, is yes — and no.

Read the rest of this excerpt at

The substance of this blog is to confirm the success of the MCAT exam, despite its obvious failings, and introduce the exams latest revision (after some 25 years). This may be relevant to the Australian admissions arena. The new changes will mean a longer exam (about 5 hours) with more analytical questions on sociology and philosophy. The trick, I suspect, will be in proving this new revision is of any benefit beyond the already strong predictive capacity of the exam.<br />
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ETA: the Doctor and Patient section of the NYTimes, like most of the NYTimes, is quite good, though obviously not aimed at a medical audience.
    • J
    • May 6, 2011
    Interesting that the original purpose of the MCAT was to reduce dropout rates from med school rather than as a means of filtering through thousands of competitive applicants.<br />
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    The impression I got from the article was that the changes were at this stage only recommendations, and that they would be up against some resistance to get them passed through.<br />
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    I don't know much about the MCAT, but it sounds to me that it is similar in terms of assessing knowledge to the GAMSAT, but that they are recommending the introduction of something akin to Section 2 of UMAT. I don't see how this could be a bad thing, but that stems from my bias in favour of S2 anyway.
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So around 1/3 MCAT applicants get a spot in med school. Those are actually much better odds than Aus.
    <blockquote>So around 1/3 MCAT applicants get a spot in med school. Those are actually much better odds than Aus.</blockquote><br />
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    MCAT is the equivalent of the GAMSAT, so not at all
  • F
  • May 13, 2011
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Yeah Hav, but don't Americans only get one shot? At least in Australia you get; high school leaver, non-standard in your first two years of uni, and then you can also apply as a grad. The states it's just grads.... Although yes, one in 3 is pretty good odds to be fair.
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Thanks Russ, I haven't a clue about the ratios in GAMSAT. I thought there would be more applicants than that.