Digital MCAT poses problems
Published: Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Updated: Saturday, June 16, 2012 02:06
For students going into the medical field, the thought of taking the Medical College Admissions Test, or MCAT, is stressful enough without worrying about the new computer-based format that goes into effect in January.
"Most professional testing has become electronic now, such as the GRE or the GMAT. The only one that hasn't switched to computer-based is the LSATs for law school," said Matt Fidler, MCAT program manager for Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions.
The difficulty level of the MCAT will stay the same, but adapting to the new format may be difficult for some students, he said.
"This is a pretty big change," Fidler said. "It's going to take time to learn how to practice. Studying is harder to manage this year because students will have to incorporate computer-based skills, which they were not accustomed to in previous years."
The changes in the MCAT format have been in the works for some time and are now being reflected in the testing and prep work.
"Our prep class has updated content and access to online materials," Fidler said. "And although it has been revamped, the price remains the same."
To help ease the concerns about the new MCAT format, Kaplan is offering an "MCAT is Changing" seminar tonight at 6 p.m. at their Ohio State campus location at 1778 N. High St.
"The seminar is free and we recommend it for students who want to stay up to speed on the MCATs," Fidler said.
There will be two additional seminars held at the same time and location on Oct. 25 and Nov. 21.
"We want to teach students about the computer-based format and how it will affect them," said Catherine Rudolph, pre-health manager of the Kaplan location on High Street. The seminar will help students by comparing the old pen and paper test to the new one and provide strategies for the computer-based format."
"We also want to help them decide which of the time slots they want. That seems to be the biggest factor right now. It's a little intimidating for them."
The MCAT exam, which used to be held twice a year during April and August, is now increasing to 22 times a year.
"AAMC, which is the company who writes the exams, has teamed up with Prometric, and now the exams can only be administered at these Prometric centers," said Fidler. "While students used to be able to go to a lecture hall on campus and take the test with 100 students at a time, these test centers typically hold no more than 20 students."
Fortunately for OSU students, there are two centers in the Columbus area: The High Street location, which is holding the seminars, and one in Groveport.
"April and May are very popular months for taking the exam, since you'd get your scores in time for applying in June," Fidler said. "June is also popular because finals are over and students can focus primarily on the exam."
Because of limited space, Kaplan encourages students to sign up for their exam up to six months in advance and to register for a prep class up to a year in advance.