AAMC made major changes to the MCAT exam in 2015. The exam has been updated to reflect the changes in medicine and science and to test examinees on not only what they know but how well they use what they know.
These changes are in response to the growth and inter-dependence of scientific knowledge, as well as the need to serve a more diverse and aging population.
The new MCAT is more holistic than the old exams and will test analytical and critical thinking skills and, importantly, the ability to independently apply the principles learned through coursework. The MCAT is NOT a test about reviewing coursework. It IS about comprehensively applying and demonstrating your knowledge across all sections.
The new test is much longer. Previously there were 144 questions that took an average of 3 hours 20 minutes to complete; the new test has 230 questions and will take approximately 6 hours 15 minutes to complete. With time added in for lunch and breaks, the test day will be approximately 7.5 hours long.
The test will consist of 230 questions* comprehensively spread throughout the entirety of the test within four sections: Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems; Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills; Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems, and; Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior.
The major changes are the addition of the Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior section and the removal of the Writing Sample section. AAMC stresses that this new section will test knowledge and use of concepts in psychology, sociology, biology, research methods, and statistics to provide a background for the study of the sociocultural and behavioral determinants of health and health outcomes while in medical school. Much of this knowledge was taught in first-year psychology and sociology courses! The Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section addresses the fact that medical schools want well-rounded applicants from a variety of backgrounds. Overall, testing will be on concepts in the context of living systems.
*Please note: Many of the non-CARS sections will involve working basic research methods and statistics in the passages and/or questions.
Visit AAMC to learn more about what is on the new exam.