MCAT 2016 is approaching. In 2015, the MCAT changed its format and the content it examines. The news of this change shook the premed-world. Yet, the change isn’t really drastic. Yes, the format did change. It is longer (more passages and questions). And yes, there are new subjects (psychology, sociology, and biochemistry) being tested. But the real change has been happening every year and it’s something the AAMC doesn’t necessarily tell you. MCAT 2016 is different even compared to last years exam.
Throughout the past 10-15 years, the MCAT has become a more passage-based exam. MCAT 2016 is no different. This will continue to happen every year. You must read the passage and then answer questions based on the passage. Sure, there are stand-alone questions and even content questions but the AAMC (creators of the MCAT) realize that doctors should not simply be able to memorize facts and spit it out. They need to think and reason through material they may not be familiar with. This is why passages are so important.
As such, the MCAT has progressively become a more critical thinking exam. So much so that I would estimate up to 30% of the questions on MCAT 2016 are from pure content. If you have taken the official exam in recent years, you may come out of prometric test center thinking you weren’t tested on content you studied.
Does that mean content is not important? Of course not. You need to know the basics well to achieve a high score. But you also need the ability to reason and strategically answer questions. This is more important than ever, especially for MCAT 2016. Strategically approaching the exam prevents you from getting stuck and anxious- allowing you answer questions in an efficient manner.
This change is actually better for students who prepare well. Since the exam is changing slightly every year, it’s important to study the previously administered exam passages and questions released by the AAMC
Would it be better to look at expired MCAT material from 2002 or 2009? Definitely 2009. Since the MCAT is constantly changing to become more verbal / passage-based, earlier versions of the exam do not resemble the current MCAT 2016 as well.
The AAMC provides many question packs that include passages and questions that were once administered, all of which has been expired. Some of this material is older and some are newer. The AAMC mixes up this material into the packs and you won’t be able to tell which questions are from more recent administrations of the exam. Regardless, any AAMC material is better than none. And any AAMC material is better than any prep-company material- since it’s once been administered!
The AAMC material is key to preforming well. Use the AAMC material offered to hone in on what you should expect. A majority of the resources available do not account for the new section of the exam called, “Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior” section. But recently, the AAMC released a question bank that includes questions specifically for this new section. This was released before MCAT 2016 so that students can have a lot of time to look at it. Check out the following link to purchase official AAMC material for these topics.
MCAT 2016 scheduling is similar to previous years the exam was administered. There are two dates to take the exam in January (22 and 23). There are no dates in February and March. But the MCAT offers multiple dates from April to September. All exam dates will be held at 8 AM. The AAMC removed the afternoon time the exam used to be administered on.
Ultimately, MCAT 2016 is a reading exam. It’s a more critical thinking exam than before. Although the format and content will not change from 2015, the MCAT will continue to progressively add questions that test your reasoning skills. The MCAT cares less about knowing the details of concepts and more about how well you can comprehend novel material. The exam started shifting in this direction in the early 2000s and it will continue to do so every year.
This means MCAT 2016 and beyond will not change considerably in terms of format and content but they are always perfecting the nature of how they present passages and ask questions. This is something you should realize before you study for the MCAT in 2016 and beyond.