The New Social and Behavioral MCAT Requirements: Inspired Innovation, Missed Opportunity, or Both?

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Association of American Colleges and Universities

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The implementation of the new Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) in 2015 will cap off over a century of discussion on the efficacy of various premedical curricula (Chambers et al. 2011) and provides an opportunity for the influence of premedical programs on liberal education to become not merely benign but highly positive. The Final Recommendations of the Association of American Medical College’s MR5 Committee (AAMC 2011a) call for the new MCAT to include a social and behavioral science component equal in scope to the biological and physical sciences portions of the exam. The test developers indicate that there will be approximately sixty-five questions in this section, taking approximately ninety-five minutes to complete. The committee proposes that 60 percent of this section be based on psychology, 30 percent on sociology, and 10 percent on biology, although they note that these percentages might change. There are twelve proposed foundational areas in the test that address the major psychosocial themes (see fig. 1). The proposed undergraduate coursework for these sections includes one course each in psychology and sociology, and two biology courses. These will be introductory courses, as more advanced courses in these fields usually require completion of the introductory courses as prerequisites.

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