Med school admissions test to be reviewed

The Association of American Medical Colleges announced Thursday itâÄôs starting a comprehensive review of the Medical College Admission Test . The process is expected to take several years, and likely wonâÄôt be completed before 2012, according to an AAMC press release. This review will mark the fifth full-scale evaluation of the test since the MCAT was first administered to students in 1928 . A panel of 21 students, undergraduate and medical education representatives from the United States and Canada will evaluate and recommend changes to the MCAT, which is taken more than 80,000 times a year. In suggesting improvements, undergraduate advisers, admissions officers and members of the medical education community will also be consulted for input . The names of the representatives will be announced Nov. 2 during the AAMCâÄôs Annual Meeting in San Antonio, TX , MCAT exam director Karen Mitchell said. From 1978 to 1990, the MCAT was made up of four science tests, a verbal test and a quantitative test, Mitchell said. After the last comprehensive review was completed in 1990, she said the MCAT was changed to encourage undergraduate students to take a broader range of courses. Medical school representatives also wanted the test to reflect the importance of effective communication skills for medical students and physicians, she said. âÄúThey didnâÄôt want to have the test be so heavily balanced in favor of the sciences, so they wanted to even the balance between science and non-science tests on the MCAT,âÄù she said. The test was changed to include two science parts, a verbal reasoning section and a writing test, she said. While these changes were made after the last review, the MCAT underwent a major change when the fully computerized MCAT was introduced in 2007 . Paul White, assistant dean of admissions at the UniversityâÄôs Medical School , said the move has benefited medical school applicants. Along with the switch from paper and pencil to computers has come shorter testing periods, a greater offering of testing dates and a quicker release of test results, he said. Beyond the MCAT, he said medical school applicants should remember that admissions officers consider more than just high test scores when evaluating applicants. Other components, such as an applicantâÄôs undergraduate performance, previous experience in the medical field and the content of recommendation letters are also important.