According to the AAMC:
The new MCAT exam includes the concepts and skills that medical educators, medical students, and residents rated as the most important for pre-meds to know so they are prepared on day one of medical school.
That's a mouthful!
You're probably wondering what this means for you, how this will change how you should study, and how this affects you if you were planning on using older prep materials.
The exam was changed in 2015 after over 20 years of no changes.
The Main Goal of the Change
The main goal of the change was to shift the focus from simply memorizing things to being able to apply the things you memorize.
It might seem that studying for the new exam will be harder, but in reality, this change actually made it much easier.
When studying for the new exam, you'll be forced to think about the numerous ways you can apply the material you're learning (which is a part of holistic learning) which means that it will be easier for you to memorize what you need to know.
As you might know (depending on which stage of studying for the MCAT you're at) the more connections you make between whatever you're studying and other things you know, the easier it will be to remember it later.
The test takes care of that by forcing you to think about possible applications for the information you're learning while studying, so it will be easier to remember it for the exam, and you will remember it for longer after the exam is over.
What's on the exam?
The exam creators asked medical students, faculty, and residents what they think they need to know before staring med school, and based the exam off of that.
They ended up with 4 main sections:
- Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
- Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
- Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
- Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
The first 3 sections are based on 10 big ideas or "foundational concepts" as they call them and the last section checks for 7 analytical and computational skills.
How should you study?
We DO NOT recommend using older material (pre-2015) for studying for the new exam.
There have been too many changes and it will be a highly inefficient way of preparing for it.
Instead, we have a list of the best MCAT prep books we recommend you use for the exam.
If you get one of our recommended study packages on that list and diligently go through it, you should be ready to take on the new exam.
Just make sure to think about how you could apply what you're learning to the real world as you go through the books.