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Friday, August 12, 2022

As medical school admissions officers across the country question the new Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), UF administrators see it as an improvement.

In a Kaplan Test Prep survey released last week, 42 percent of the medical schools surveyed said they believe the new MCAT, which has been administered since April, is a better assessment of students’ abilities. This is a 38-percent drop from last year’s survey.

But for UF, the new MCAT is certainly an improvement, said Juliet Hill, director of admissions for the UF College of Medicine. UF has a large pre-medical population, with 760 students applying from UF last year, said Senior Communications Manager for Kaplan Test Prep Russell Schaffer.

"It encompasses areas that the old MCAT did not address," she said.

Executive Director of Pre-Medical Programs for Kaplan Test Prep Eric Chiu said the survey’s results reflect uncertainity about the exam’s effectiveness rather than negativity.

The new MCAT focuses more on critical thinking and applying multiple subjects in one problem, Hill said. It also includes a new behavioral sciences section.

Chiu said one of the biggest mistakes students make while preparing for the MCAT is viewing it as a hard science test.

"This is not like the final exams UF students took in their intro science classes," he said. "This is not even like final exams they took in their upper-level classes."

Chiu said students shouldn’t be concerned that medical schools are uncertain about the new MCAT. They will be likely to view it as an improvement once more data is collected, he said.

First-year UF medical student Sama Ilyas took the old MCAT in June 2014. She said she believes the new one is a better assessment of skills.

"It’s helpful for undergrads to synthesize the information together and see how the different sciences relate to each other," the 21-year-old said.

Ilyas said she thinks administrators are uncertain about the new MCAT because it’s a big change.

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"It’s pretty drastic, really," she said. "Everybody’s adapting to it."

Contact Alexandra Fernandez at afernandez@alligator.org and follow her on Twitter @alexmfern

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