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A question regarding MCAT 2015

March 3rd, 2014 by Dr Ian Walker

I recently received this email from a future applicant, and it seemed more appropriate to respond to a broader audience.

“I am an undergraduate student at the University of Calgary and I will be applying to medical school the summer of 2015. I just have a few questions about the new MCAT exam and how that will affect my application. On the admissions website it is said that the old MCAT will not be accepted in 2015 but the admissions manual says that a one year grace period can be anticipated, so I am a little confused as to which one it is. If the old MCAT will indeed not be looked at starting 2015, then will there be some sort of an adjustment in the way the MCAT is scored since students writing this new MCAT will be at a disadvantage because of things like a lack of MCAT 2015 prep books. ”

At the time when we produced last year’s applicant manual, we anticipated having a “crossover” period of one year with the old and new MCAT.  On further reflection, the Admissions Committee felt that since we do not know how the new MCAT and old MCAT compare, we cannot use them both during the same application cycle and assume that they are equivalent.  As such, the committee has decided to go with a hard transition.  As of the 2015-16 application cycle, all applicants will be required to complete and submit scores from the new MCAT exam, and we will not be using scores from the old test in our calculations.  Since we are no longer going to be accepting the old test, I am not sure what disadvantage is being referred to here.  All applicants will be writing the same test, with the same advantage or disadvantage, in so far as one exists.

Hope that helps clarify things.

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39 responses so far ↓

  • Hi Dr. Walker,

    I’m just wondering how the U of C looks at repeated courses? I am considering repeating a couple of first year undergraduate courses, and am wondering if the U of C has any sort of grade forgiveness? At the time of applying, I will have my undergraduate degree, so these courses are not part of my GPA calculation for the two most recent years, but if I did retake them, would they count towards my cumulative GPA calculation?

  • Dear Dr. Walker,

    In reviewing the U of C MD Applicant Manual, I noted that only the MCAT VR (10%) section is formally used in the objective calculation of applicant scores for Alberta residents.

    Can you please

    a. Elaborate as to what extent the other MCAT sections are considered in the application process.
    b. Discuss the changes in the weighting of MCAT sections for 2015 onwards.

    Currently balancing a full-time career with studying for the MCAT means that it is important to focus on the most important areas and as such having a more clear understanding of how these sections are weighted would assist greatly in managing my time.

    Thanks!

    • The other two sections are also considered by reviewers when looking at the global assessment of academic merit. If they are particularly low, they could potentially be flagged as an “area of concern” – i.e.”Is this evidence that this person really cannot master scientific concepts?”.
      No decisions have yet been made on how we are going to handle the MCAT 2015, other than that we will require it.

      • Thanks Dr Walker.

        I was also wondering if there will be any other significant changes to the 2015 admissions cycle? Specifically, will there be changes to pre-requisite science course, impact statement structure, etc.

        And if so, when do you expect such changes to be posted/available for review?

        Cheers.

  • It would be nice to know about this and how it may be affected by the evolving residency requirements as this may really change who invests time and money into the 2014 MCAT that will only be good for next cycle, if they’re even eligible to apply.

    You said adequate advance warning on twitter…. and I think with AAMC opening up their registration for the MCAT and people planning for their summer (research, career, family), it’s a good enough time as any.

    • We’ll tell you once a decision has been reached. Its not like we are holding anything back. What I said on twitter was that if there were changes to the residency requirements, we would give lead time, meaning that we would not make abrupt changes that resulted in someone who had recently moved to Alberta to be eligible suddenly become ineligible.

  • I agree with the comments below. This seems very unfair. Most other medical schools across the country are giving 1 to 2 years grace period for the new MCAT. I don’t understand why UofC has to be so different all of the time.

  • Hello Dr. Walker,

    I am sure that you are very busy, but I was wondering if, when you had time, you would weigh back in on the discussion in the comments?

    Cheers

  • Dear Dr. Walker,

    I appreciate you taking the time to clarify this new MCAT policy. However, I respectfully disagree with the admissions committee’s determination that it would be difficult to compare the new and old tests. Would it not be possible to compare by converting the total score to a percentile? I am sure that you and the committee have considered this, and I would appreciate any insight into why this is not an option. Thank you!

  • I can see transparency in the admission process requires lots of energy so to address all the issues arisen in this forum. I would like to see a summary of the major points compiled in a single post followed by Dr. Walker thoughts.

    I would like to emphasize the “older generation” were not required to take social or psychology courses. Could I have taken them as part of my curriculum if I had the chance before? Considering I did a non-biology science degree, I didn’t even have room to take recommend subjects (I didn’t even know I would be interested in this stream for the matters). I eventually took a year off work (read 12 months) to go back to university to complete biochem courses which required chem/bio first year courses. In the process, I prepared for the mcat and here I am, in my application process. While I am ok this year to apply, next year if I happened to need it, would put me in a disadvantage if the UofC decides to implement these changes. I will not be able to take more time off to take extra courses. Living in rural Alberta, my only chances would be distance education. Personally I find distance education requires more time commitment, it is more expensive, grading system is not fair (read as grades are not curved based on overall group performance as seen in university – talking about fairness here) and would not leave proper room to both prepare to the mcat (again) while creating impact in the community.

    I am going into my third round process just to clarify, and from my experience a shiny mcat and good grades would get you into the next round. How to accommodate such diverse population when the system is experiencing changes once again?

    I agree the mcat suppose to describe all applicants in front of the admission panel only if all of them are measured with the same stick. Pre and post 2015 mcats mean you are using different figures of merit. Hence I could see why to use only one of them. Anybody before 2013 would be required to make an extra effort to accommodate those changes. I am not afraid in engaging in new challenges; however I can see people preparing for mcat2015 to be automatically in advantage because they would have used their time/money resources more wisely while thriving for shiny MCAT/GAP numbers.

    Can UofC be able to accommodate their selection processes to these changes while keeping it as a fair game?

    ———————

    Just reading these posts just opened my eyes about a sad true. Beside the point of some people experiencing financial struggle, I can see that paying extra courses/professionals trainning for MMIs is totally possible and why not, it could have been happening for a while now. Although the admission panel focuses in choosing the best candidates, taking any extra prep courses would give you an advantage, even if it is a statistically one. I doubt professional members of the committee can pick up on these advantages themselves, except their scoring number for those applicants would should higher in their sheets. You can put all the energy to make a process fair, but somebody would always fall -or pass- through the cracks.

    Thinking about it, maybe I need to have more faith in the system and hope they are doing their best. On the other hand, a selection process could always be more transparent, but could it always be more fair? My personal best advice I could give to anybody is “don’t think too much and focus in a great MCAT”. You are not going wrong with that. And who knows, me being more cynical, the process could become less transparent and more lenient to TOP gpa/mcat students like they do at other universities like UofM (They focus in local crowds – and only in shear numbers and only in extra-curricular activities done locally – in the province).

  • I’m wondering if this might be an issue.
    I feel that because of the need to write the new MCAT there will be a lot more people writing the MCAT in 2015. This might mean less optimal time slots and increased likelihood of travel. Also, if you need to void your exam for any reason you won’t have a score to apply or a previous MCAT score to fall back on unless you find a time to rewrite it the same year.

  • I am reading through your applicant manual in preparation for next cycle. I understand there still could be some changes. I am curious to know why the graduate school GPA is not counted towards one of the two fulltime undergraduate years. It states that a graduate degree will be used as the equivalent as one fulltime undergraduate year. If that is the case then shouldn’t the GPA be calculated if there is one fulltime undergrad year and the grad? Just curious why you still need two fulltime undergraduate years on top of this.

    Also, I know students, including myself, who decided to take fulltime courses through the summer semester and through the Fall semester making it 8 months of fulltime coursework. How come the 24 credits have to be taken from Sept – April and not May – December or January – August? Does it really make a difference which span of the 8 months it occurs over?

    • Reasonable questions. First, we allow applicants to use the grades from a completed graduate degree as part of their GPA calculation as a way of “rewarding” (not sure that is entirely the right word) completed graduate work. Our internal data, however, tell us that undergrad grades (specifically full time years) are the best predictor of academic success in the MD program. Similarly, summer courses and Sept-April courses are not equivalent from a rigor standpoint (in most peoples’ minds – not offering an opinion on that myself), and again, are less powerful predictors of MD program success.

  • A lot of good comments here. I can handle having to study again but its the financial hit that’s going to be the most significant in this change. Like John said, it can cost close to $1000 for registration and study materials. On top of that, some of us had to travel many hours to the testing location and spend the night there.

    I understand both sides but seriously think a 1-2 year grace period would have helped a lot of us out.

  • Is the expected acceptance/rejection release date going to be May 15 or is the aim to get it out slightly earlier like last year?

    • Hi Dr. Walker, also I am wondering whether verifiers are being checked randomly this year ? Last year you were thinking of changing the system because it was wasting time checking the verifiers of people who weren’t going to be accepted. Did you end up changing that this year ? Thanks.

    • Don’t know yet. Some of our colleagues at other schools were a little surprised by our early release. Will likely consult them this year. That said, I do think it is a service to those applicants who either only have one application out there or already know that this is where they want to go. Earlier notification = better ability to organize and plan accordingly. I will guarantee that whenever we release offers, we will not require a response before other schools make their offers.

      • I was thinking about UofC and its release date. UofC is one of the earliest medical schools to start (in July!). However, you release notification in May like the other medical schools that start in September. It doesn’t give people a lot of notice to move and get their affairs in order before July. Especially for out of province applicants. Do you have any thoughts on this Dr. Walker?

        • Yes I do. We would love to be able to release way ahead of the crowd, but we have agreed to be on board with the rest of the country and not require a response before the end of May. We do not want to get into some kind of competition with other schools, and certainly do not want to put people in a position of having to accept or decline our offer before they have even heard from other schools. Last year we released a little early just to give people some lead time. It was primarily an advantage to the applicants who only applied here or already clearly knew that this was where they wanted to go. This year we have not been able to schedule a committee meeting until May 12th, so won’t be able to repeat that feat. In future years we will try to do it again.

          • Maybe I just don’t understand, but would it not be possible to release at an earlier date (possibly much earlier!), but still not require a response until the nationwide response deadline? That seems like a win win situation.

            I understand that this would not be possible this year, due to scheduling, but hypothetically…

  • In my opinion, the Admission’s Committee should have reflected on this at the time of writing the applicant manual. Every applicant who wrote the MCAT last year and read your manual expected to have 2 years to apply with their score. This is extremely unfair to applicants now to change your mind suddenly.

    • I agree. I understand that U of C needs to have a hard and fast rule for the MCAT but I do feel that there should be some consideration for those who expected to have at least a few years with their current MCAT.

      I wrote last year and didn’t score as well as I would have liked to ( I’m speculating this may have prevented me getting an interview, if not, I might as well cover my bases anyways), so now I’m taking the MCAT again this summer for the 2014/2015 app cycle, which will only be good for 1 year. I will then have to start planning/studying for the new MCAT in 2015.

      In 3 cycles, I will have spent $4000+ (travel, materials, testing dates, time taken off work) and countless hours of studying on top of a full-time career (45 hours a week). I’m tired just thinking about it!

    • I disagree that is is extremely unfair. I imagine that all decisions and changes put forth by UofC medical admissions are discussed heavily before implementing them. As an applicant one must expect that the application requirements may change from year to year. Although they originally had planned to accept the old MCAT for a year, I am certain they have valid reasons for changing this decision. This is still plenty of notice for applicants to plan on taking the 2015 MCAT should they need to. It does mean more costs and potential work on the applicant’s behalf, but if medicine is what you are truly striving for then big picture you’ll figure out a way to work with these unexpected changes. For example, I had to undergo pre-screening this year which was a change in the process and although was unsuccessful after file review I anticipated possible changes to GPA cutoffs in the future so took a full courseload of credits to bump the GPA for next cycle. This was difficult both financially and time management wise, but I know big picture medicine is my goal so I have to work within the system that U of C has decided on. If I don’t get in next round and have to take the 2015 MCAT then so be it. Life will always throw curve balls and I think we should trust that UofC med admissions made this unexpected change in decision with a lot of care and thought. With the MCAT changing we will see changes across all medical schools and have to work within this transition. It’s unfortunate we are the people applying during this time, but we have to work with it.

      • I think you’re absolutely right. I was wait listed in 2012 but didn’t make it in, last year I didn’t even get an interview. I started an after degree in nursing, not to help my GPA, though it could use some help I’ll admit. I started another path because you can’t just sit around with life on hold and live just to “beef up” my attractiveness but to get moving in life. If the moves I make make me a better applicant than so be it. I interviewed this year and who knows I’ve got a better chance of getting a rejection than acceptance and if that happens, I’ll just keep living and applying. Life isn’t fair in a lot of circumstances but you have to do the best you can with what you have, something you’ll have to do in medicine anyways. I am by no means wealthy or young but I’ll keep trying and try my best to be as competitive as I can be. I don’t want to rewrite an MCAT either but if that what the admissions committee had deemed the course of action I have to take to apply in 2015 I’ll have to do it if I want to keep applying. It’ll be a challenge on many fronts but one I’ll have to undertake if it means enough to me. I think Calgary is pretty good at being transparent and trying to act in applicants best interests. If I don’t make it in this yet maybe I’ll be sitting next to one of you in 2015 writing again. If life give you lemons try to make lemon tarts, if that doesn’t work throw one in a gin and tonic and take a deep breath. Best of luck to all of us.

  • I can completely understand U of Calgary’s decision to make a hard transition to the new MCAT. This and next year’s applicants are placed in the unfortunate position of potentially having to retake the MCAT, but U of Calgary is right in the fact that the test is changing so much that it will be impossible to fairly compare old and new MCAT scores.

    In response to others who commented, you should be addressing your concerns to AAMC, which is taking a great risk in changing all sections drastically and all at once, when it might have introduced, say, one major change every 2 years, evaluating how each one is working in the meantime.

    There also some arguments to be made for why having to retake the MCAT in 2015 isn’t an awful hardship. First, anyone who applied in Fall 2013 or earlier will get at least 2 cycles out of their MCAT score. I personally wouldn’t be proud of a 3-year old score anyway. On the other hand, someone who will apply in Fall 2014 for the first time will still have the material fresh in their memory and would just have to add the knowledge for the new sections to rewrite in spring/summer 2015. The extra expense of a few hundred dollars is nothing life-changing. Finally, the new MCAT will test material that’s more relevant to actual medical school, so it’s a valuable incentive to get extra prep, especially for non-science majors!

    • It’s great to have more discussion and different input on this topic. I completely agree with the majority of your points except for the last few. I am still wondering out loud about equitable opportunity in the cost department however.

      The only way the MCAT expenses are a few hundred dollars is if the only thing you paid for is the registration to take the exam itself. (That’s also assuming you are lucky enough to get a slot where you live and don’t have to travel).

      It is not uncommon for everything MCAT related to cost anywhere from 1000-2000 dollars once you factor in the test itself, review books, AAMC practice tests, nevermind possibly taking a review course as well. Sure, you can get used review books from craigsist or PM101, or you can even torrent pdf copies of some of the books online (ethics of the last option not to be defended or criticized here). But in all reality, you will only get the abundance of practice materials and the most comprehensive review books if you register for a prep course, regardless of whether you attend the classes – what I mean by this is review books dedicated to each subject, online practice tests, the Verbal Reasoning practice books you can only get through princeton and NOT at the bookstore, etc. This certainly adds a hefty cost.

      Then, on top of the what the review materials + test cost, you must factor in the opportunity cost if you are someone who would otherwise be working instead of studying for the MCAT. Let’s be honest, the MCAT truly requires a dedicated period of study for at least a couple months for the average applicant, with minimal work/research/travel-related commitments. Admittedly, there are some applicants who can study for the MCAT for 1-2 weeks and reach 95+ percentile and anecdotally, I do know such individuals but I am guessing that they are few and far between, at least relative to most med school applicants.

      Given that the MCAT is a pricey undertaking (resource cost + opportunity cost) for some applicants, I don’t see how this wouldn’t adversely affect someone who must work to earn a living or who cannot otherwise afford to take time off this summer and possibly next summer too. You could definitely say to these applicants “Better get accepted during the upcoming cycle then!” or “Maybe delay your application so you only have to prepare for the 2015 cycle.” (By the way, I am in no way insinuating that these are your views).

      I just find that given the U of C’s narrative of striving to provide an equitable playing field regardless of socioeconomic privilege, their 2015 MCAT policy is not quite in step.

      Of course you can say that the MCAT is a necessity of medical school admissions and it’s but a drop in the bucket compared to the financial outcome of being a practicing physician. But what happens when the drops become a trickle that some applicants cannot afford? Stepping aside for a moment, consider the (debatable) advantages of Interview/application prep from “consultants”; Dr. Walker clearly opposes the notion of applicants with more wealth gaining a competitive edge. Why isn’t the same principle applied regarding policy-making on the 2015 MCAT? I am sure that Interview Prep consultants aren’t a magic bullet, but I bet there is SOME benefit to it, so there lies some unfairness for those who cannot afford it. I would say the MCAT 2015 policy has some unfairness to it running in a similar vein.

      From the current MCAT, the only real important section at U of C is the Verbal reasoning section. I am pretty sure (although I would have to double check) that there is going to be a similar section in the 2015 MCAT. I imagine with some statistical wizardry they would be able to compare these verbal/reading comprehension sections from the Old and New MCAT. Perhaps during the transition years U of C might only consider this section from the MCATs.

      Now, I agree even still there would be a bit of the element of apples vs. oranges comparison between old and new MCAT. However, the whole medical school application is rife with apples and oranges. How exactly do you compare GPAs from different schools, different programs or even different years for the same course at the same university? I cannot believe that all Universities are equally difficult for similar programs in every aspect. U of C mitigates some of these aspects in some capacity in their “Subjective Academic Assessment”, although I don’t know the true ins and outs here. You might even argue that since there are so many apples and oranges comparisons in the application, it would be nice to have the 2015 MCAT be that one standard by which applicants can be evenly compared. Fair point, but really, this is only important if they choose to make the new MCAT count for more than 10% of the application plus some “subjective academic assessment points.” All I am saying is that there must be more substantial justifications for the U of C’s decision on the 2015 MCAT than what I have seen so far on this blog.

      Disclaimer: I was able to take the majority of my summer off due to support from my family and some savings from work in order to study for the MCAT and I did well too. My point is that the above argument I presented isn’t intended to be self-serving. Having to re-write the new MCAT doesn’t bother me as I agree with you, it will undoubtedly be useful in some capacity for medical school and it would be that or some other academic project so it truly makes no difference to me. But I do count myself lucky to be in a position that not every applicant is in and I think that for the most part wealthier applicants or those lucky enough to make it work don’t realize that for those with less wealth, there is not one single discouraging hoop to medical school but several smaller ones causing stumbles.

      This post was wayyyy too long. Sorry.

      • Thanks for the thoughtful reply, John. My main objective in the post was to bring in a different perspective into the discussion, which I thought was too dominated by complaining and agonizing. I think that as future doctors, we have to be tougher and bigger than that.

        I agree that having to re-take the MCAT in 2015 is an unfortunate extra hurdle for 2014 applicants who end up having to reapply in 2015, which might amount to several hundred people. However, I just wanted to point out that it’s not an insurmountable obstacle.

        Personally, I took the MCAT for the first time in 2013. Apart from the registration fee, I spent about $350 on books and practice tests, which wasn’t a dramatic amount. I wish I had an opportunity cost in terms of lost wages, but in fact I couldn’t find a decent job all summer, so studying for the MCAT was the best use of my time anyway. Drawing on this experience, I don’t believe in the argument that having to retake the MCAT will impose enough financial stress on a large enough number of applicants to skew the odds in favour of wealthier applicants. However, I can understand your argument as well, and yours is one of the more reasoned responses here.

  • While I understand U of C’s reasoning here, (and am hoping it won’t affect me as I applied this cycle), I do feel really bad for next years applicants who will only have one try with the current MCAT.

    Another concern that hasn’t been mentioned yet: some people didn’t plan their undergraduate degrees with the intention of taking an MCAT that includes social sciences and humanities. I know I didn’t, I took one psych course and a couple English courses.

    I know the admissions committee is just trying to come up with a fair system, but this does seem really tough of next years applicants.

  • Perhaps I am missing some sort of political nuance here or if not, perhaps you can speak to what I perceive to be an unnecessary and somewhat arbitrary engagement in bureaucratic unfairness. I understand that comparing two MCATs with substantively different content is fundamentally difficult (the premise that is tangentially under discussion) but I am not sure why such a comparison is even necessary.

    First and foremost, both MCATs (pre and post-2015 changes) will, undoubtedly, test the applicant’s academic abilities and in doing so, determine – to a meaningful extent – whether or not the applicant is sufficiently skilled in exam writing and comprehension to thrive in a medical school environment. Second, if the Committee was to deem such a comparison necessary, surely they could institute a grace period of one year while they attempt to work out a manageable solution. If no solution can be arrived at, then this author could understand the current amendments. However, it must be stated that both tests will and have in their current form (for the last 22 years) assess and thus, fulfill the intended purpose of their requirement.

    Now to the perceived unfairness: the individuals who wrote the 2013 MCAT (if written in time for the 2014 application) would have only 2 application cycles of a valid MCAT score at the University of Calgary. Whereas, under the previous policy at practically every Canadian medical school (and the current policy at many institutions) was and is to permit MCATs written in the last five years to remain valid. I fail to see how denying applicants in this position a reasonable grace period (read: at least two or three years) could be considered fair or even reasonable. Anyone who wrote and received a competitive score in 2010 – 2013 would, after this next application cycle, be unable to apply to the Calgary’s medical school. Now, if all the medical schools in Canada were striving for some level of uniformity in this matter, I would understand. However, as it stands many Canadian medical schools have either not yet decided, publically, how to respond to these changes or retained their previous five-year policy. These specific applicants will now have to write an entirely new MCAT in order to apply to one or two institutions which have adopted these restrictive policies. Finally, as a school that places such a significant emphasis on the subjective elements of an application; (and in doing so, has nurtured some fairly untraditional but excellent applicants) this choice strikes me as ill-calculated and uncharacteristic.

    I can only hope that the committee considers a more palatable grace period. But on another note, thanks again Dr. Walker for all that you do – it is extremely transparent and level-headed of someone in your position to be so informative and welcoming.

    • I would like to echo the above argument. Practically, the new decision at Calgary will make it very difficult for many students who are caught in these transition years. Also, even though the new MCAT has new content, I feel it would still retain the value for fair comparison in its biology, physics/chemistry and verbal sections. The only section that is completely new is the social sciences section. It seems to be a viable option to me to only consider the first three sections in the transition years.

    • You could also point out that for those who wrote the MCAT recently, having to the write the MCAT again represents an added financial challenge to applying to medical school.

      I understand that the University of Calgary is committed to providing an equitable playing field for applicants, regardless of socioeconomic means. I am not sure how the MCAT decision aligns with this stance. Having to write the 2015 MCAT despite a score less than 5 years old means having to spend money on practice books and study material (not to mention the test itself). This can easily mean another 500-3000 depending on an applicant’s ability and/or willingness to spend. Will those who can’t save up enough to take time off work and buy study materials prepare for another MCAT? I wonder if such applicants will simply say goodbye to U of C for a few years.

      Personally, I think that the U of C will lose applicants in the 2015/2016 cycle when schools such as UBC will be accepting the old MCAT for a few years to come. Interesting to contemplate what the applicant pool in the 2015/2016 cycle will look like for U of C.

      The other thing I would point out is that I believe that the earliest cohort of MCAT 2015 examinees will be at a disadvantage while the prep companies find their stride for their review books that they publish. I currently understand that The Princeton Review will have some materials available for the 2015 MCAT but who knows how well-calibrated such resources will be? Undoubtedly those writing the MCAT in 2016 and beyond will benefit from more refined review materials in addition to more practice tests and the like. Is it possible that general academic background from undergrad studies will provide an edge for the 2015 MCAT?

      On the other hand, the hard stance that the U of C is taking on the 2015 MCAT seems to suggest that the MCAT is an integral aspect to their decisions on who to interview. That is something to think about for applicants whose files would otherwise benefit from a strong MCAT performance. It is understandable that admissions would want to be able to compare all of their applicants using the same yardstick.

      I personally am kind of excited to write the new MCAT should I have to, despite an excellent 2013 MCAT score. If you want to be a doctor, then you have to jump through these hoops. We all have to. I do, however, regret that some of us may be financially restrained by this decision. It is certainly an added cost for some of us that is on par with what some applicants can afford to shell out to interview “consultants” (although admittedly MCAT may have more inherent value and probably is more useful for everyone).

      Regardless of me playing devil’s advocate, I echo the above poster’s sentiments and applaud Dr. Walker’s transparency and willingness to discuss these issues. I would appreciate your thoughts Dr. Walker.

      • I have many of the same concerns but couldn’t have expressed them so eloquently.

        I don’t think the switch is such a big problem for applicants who have already applied multiple times (such as myself), but I feel really bad for this next cycle’s first time applicants. Their MCAT scores will be valid for only the single cycle. Considering that most accepted applicants apply through multiple cycles before being accepted, it’s very likely that a large number of people will have to re-write the test.

        Something that hasn’t been mentioned is the considerable time investment in preparing for the MCAT. OIder applicants in particular have to sacrifice much to prepare for the MCAT as their time is often more scarce than undergraduate students. Having to heavily invest one’s time in prepping for the exam twice would be a big deterrent and likely select for applicants with the most resources available.

        • Yes, anecdotally, the people I know that performed well on the MCAT had the resources to take a summer off from work and other commitments to focus solely on the MCAT. It just makes sense; more time to practice something = better performance. Obviously the benefits of study time plateau at a certain level, however I am now saving up so that I can afford to not work in the summer of 2015 should I have to write the new MCAT.

          I have heard from an admissions committee (I forget which one) that they take into account whether the applicant was working while studying for their MCAT. But really, a higher MCAT is always more impressive.

          On a related note I know of a few people currently in medicine that put down fake employment on their applications for the summer they studied for the MCAT in order to discuss how it was a challenge to balance work and studying.

          • I’m playing devil advocate here. The MCAT 2015 inclues Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior and Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills, which were not included in previous MCAT.
            U of C decides that it needs a fresh start so it has a level playing field for everyone. Otherwise, some of them that takes 2015 will argue that their exam is more difficult, takes an hour longer to compete while those who takes pre-2015 may argue 2015 MCAT is easier or what have you.
            IMHO, that is the rules of the game, and not much to argue about. Everyone is playing the same game, some may have better luck with the new game, some may not. All I can say is let the game begins.