Let's celebrate the New Year / New MCAT together!
So you’ve heard that starting in April 2015, the MCAT will change dramatically. Here at Cambridge Coaching (based in Boston and New York,) we MCAT test prep tutors are getting prepared. In this blog post, I’ll outline some of the most important differences between the 2014 MCAT and the new MCAT. Rather than providing fine-grained comparisons, I’ll talk about broader changes in the focus of the MCAT, and what it means for you in terms of preparation. (Caveat: If you’ve already taken the old one, the AAMC says that medical schools will accept your score until 2018)
Differences in Content
The greatest change between the new and old MCAT is the addition of Psychology/Sociology and Biochemistry sections. Some fairly esoteric subjects (Center of mass, pedigree reading, some organic chemistry) will be removed from the old MCAT. As a private MCAT tutor in Boston, I think this change is justified, and reflects the importance of working together with patients to improve their health. The AAMC (and by extension: the people who will be admitting you and your future colleagues) agree.
Differences in Question Style
The new MCAT requires students to apply their basic science knowledge in a medical context. Questions on the old MCAT came in two flavors: Stand-alone and passage-based, with the passage-based questions forming the majority of questions. On the old MCAT, questions in the basic sciences were framed much as they might be in a college basic science class. While the old test asked you about the velocity of rocket ships or voltage across a resistor, the new MCAT will ask you to use your basic science knowledge as a medical tool. Instead of asking about a battery, the MCAT might ask about the electrical conductance of a sweat test (used to look for Cystic Fibrosis). Instead of asking about the velocity of a falling object on the moon, the new test might ask about how severe a fall might be from different heights (testing the concept of energy being converted from potential to kinetic energy). In order to be successful and efficient with your MCAT review in Boston, remember to approach the questions by asking yourself “What is this the context for this situation like?”
Differences in Length
The new MCAT covers several new subjects and only removes a few. Because of this, the test is going to be almost twice as long (6 hrs and 15 minutes) as the current MCAT (3 hrs, 20 minutes). While the (very important) licensing exams like Step 1 and 2 are longer than the MCAT, a 6-hour test is longer than anything most students have taken before. Thinking for that long is mentally taxing, so it’s important to be prepared for this. As an MCAT test prep tutor in New York, I work with students specifically on their mental endurance. While the length of the test might seem cruel, this will pay off many years later, when at 3:00 am, a patient has a crisis and you’re responsible for figuring out how to fix it.
The increased length of the test will also mean that you’ll have to change your approach to MCAT review. Since the most effective way to prepare for the MCAT is by taking full-length practice tests, you will have to think ahead about fitting in an entire, undisturbed 6.25 hours into your day.
Additional Resources for the 2015 MCAT
AAMC offical Practice MCAT: The gold standard to see a 2015 practice MCAT
AAMC official Resource list : The AAMC published its own guide to the new MCAT. Look here first for information about how to prepare
Khan Academy: A series of awesome videos produced by Khan academy talking about concepts for the MCAT. I’ve used these (confession: as a medical student!) to refresh my knowledge of systems and get an overview of important topics.
mcat2015.com: A website from Kaplan offering a free practice test and a much more detailed explanation of the differences between the new and old MCAT.
If you’re looking for help with your MCAT review, whether it’s enlisting the services of an MCAT biology tutor in New York, or comprehensive support on all sections, feel free to reach out to Cambridge Coaching! We offer in-person, private MCAT tutoring services in New York and Boston, and online MCAT tutoring around the world.