Given the changing healthcare system and recent technological developments, the MCAT will be making some new changes starting in 2015 (the first time in over 20 years!). Here’s what you need to know to keep yourself fully prepared for when you take the test.
What Are the Changes to the MCAT in 2015?
The new portion of the test will consist of a section titled Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior (CARS). It will focus on the socio-cultural and behavioral determinants on health and the implications of it in the medical field. Another section Critical Analysis and Reasoning is also being added which does not require extra studying since it tests more general knowledge. And finally, the Biological Sciences section will include added material on biochemistry. In total, the exam will have four test sections. These changes will lengthen the MCAT to 7 hours, and The Princeton Review has an excellent infographic that explains these recent changes.
2015 MCAT Test Structure
|Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems||59||95|
|Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems||59||95|
|Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior||59||95|
|Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills||53||90|
Medical School Requirements — Courses You Need to Take to be Ready
Since there is new material on the MCAT, there might be some confusion as to what exactly to study. The following are the required courses you should be looking at when applying to medical school:
- One year of General or Inorganic Chemistry (eight semester hours with lab)
- One year of Organic Chemistry (eight semester hours with lab)
- One semester of Biochemistry
- One year of Biology (eight or twelve semester hours depending on school with lab)
- One year of Physics (eight semester hours with lab)
You also need these courses:
- One year of Humanities (English, Writing, or Humanities)
- One year of Mathematics (with one semester of Calculus strongly preferred)
You should have two English courses under your belt to coherently respond to any questions that appear on the exam. For Mathematics, some students like to take classes on statistics and/or calculus during the first few semesters of college or near the end of their senior year to avoid taking unnecessary classes in medical school. In short, math and English requirements vary depending on the college, and the specific premedical requirements vary from medical school to med school. However, most colleges have English and Math requirements for its pre-med students.
In addition to these standard courses, you should be taking a few extra classes for the new material on the MCAT 2015. In particular, make sure to take:
- One semester of an Introduction to Sociology course
- One semester of an Introduction to Psychology course
Brown University’s College and Center for Careers released a list of courses that should fully prepare you for the 2015 MCAT.
Suggested Classes That Will Prepare You for 2015 MCAT
In addition to these courses, there are other classes which are not requirements but merely strong recommendations. Other classes in the humanities/social sciences are beneficial, but not necessary, so speak to your advisor to make sure which classes are requirements at your university.
Brigham Young University’s premed advisor recommends a few additional classes related to medical science that might give you an extra edge on the MCAT. Look for these classes on your course list and consider taking them if available:
- Medical Sociology
- Medical Latin and Greek
However, most medical school admissions offices recommend against taking Anatomy classes before med school, so consider your choices carefully before you commit. (find reference for ‘don’t take anatomy’ thing.)
Suggestions or Strongly Recommended?
Depending on your school, taking classes in the humanities/social sciences and mathematics may be a requirement for pre-med students. Some schools require one semester in calculus and another semester in statistics to properly prepare for any analysis-based questions on the MCAT.
The additional courses you should definitely take to study for the MCAT 2015 are basic classes in sociology and psychology to prepare yourself for the new Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior section of the exam.
At least one class in both statistics and calculus is strongly advised to able to efficiently work with graphs and statistical data on the exam. And finally, classes in the humanities are recommended to prepare yourself for the Critical Analysis and Reading Skills section (which replaces the old Verbal Reasoning component of the MCAT). Therefore, you should plan out your courses for your four years in undergraduate school and rank them in order of importance with the required courses taking precedence.
However, your GPA and MCAT score is only half of the equation. To give you that added boost, your personal statement needs to impress and your letters of recommendation need to be top-notch.
Also, if you’re a parent, be sure to check out our Parent’s Guide to the MCAT coursework.
Sources and References