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When Did the MCAT Change?
New vs Old Format

William Cohen
Published by William Cohen
Last Updated On: November 5, 2021

If you want to become a doctor, attending a medical school can help you fulfill your dreams. However, to get admitted to most medical colleges, you need to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).

Changes were made to the MCAT a few years ago in order to improve it. Let’s take a closer look at the modifications that were made, as well as the difference between the old and the new MCAT.

New MCAT Section & Updates

  • The last MCAT change was in April 2015.
  • When the test changed, another section was added. Instead of 3, the MCAT now has 4 sections.
  • The scores also changed in the new MCAT. The old scores were between 3 to 45, while the new scores 472 to 528.
  • There were 3 updates to the MCAT, which mostly put emphasis on the skills when taking the test.

What is the Last MCAT Change Date?

The MCAT test was revised in April 2015 by the Association of American Medical Colleges[1]. Before the latest change, the MCAT was previously modified in 1991. Since 2015, there haven’t been any significant changes to this medical school admission test.

New Vs. Old Medical College Admission Test

Student in uniform and in casual attire answering an examination

The new MCAT test has taken a new shift, and the MCAT scores have also changed. The new version of the test has new MCAT percentiles and MCAT sections. Let’s review the changes.

Old MCAT Exam Score Chart

The old MCAT for test-takers looking to join medical schools had the following properties:

  • The total exam duration was 5 hours
  • Future medical students had one writing section in the tes
  • There were three multiple-choice sections in the test
  • The exam sections had a score range of 1 to 15. Hence, the total MCAT score range was between 3 to 45.

Related Article: Old MCAT to New MCAT Score Conversion Chart

New MCAT Exam Score Chart

If you are considering taking the new MCAT, here are some changes to expect:

  • Exam duration is 7 hours 30 minutes
  • There is no writing sample section in the new MCAT
  • There are four multiple-choice sections
  • The MCAT score range for each section is between 118 and 132. The total MCAT score range is from 472 to 528

Old MCAT Sections 

A compilation of answer sheets and documents

The old version of the test for getting admitted to a medical school had the following sections:

  • Physical Science
  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Biological Science

New MCAT Sections

The new MCAT test for jumpstarting your medical career has four sections:

  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
  • Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior

New MCAT Mean Score

Each section in the new MCAT has a median score of 125. The total score per section is between 118 and 132. The median score in the total test is 500, and the total MCAT score ranges between 472 and 528. If you want to compare the old and the new MCAT scoring system, try to find an MCAT conversion table online.

Note: The Association of American Medical Schools accepts MCAT scores not older than 2 to 3 years.

3 MCAT Updates and Changes to Join Medical School

A student answering their answer sheet in an arm chair

The new MCAT has three significant updates and changes. The AAMC made the new changes for the current medical education to reflect today's health care needs.

‘The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new’ - Socrates, Philosopher

The changes in the new test are extensive, and as a student, you should welcome them. The new test puts a lot of emphasis on skills, especially in the Critical Analysis and the Reasoning Skills section.

1. More Focal Point in the Social Sciences

The PSBB section is a significant update in the MCAT 2015 change. This section demonstrates more emphasis on social issues regarding health care as the medical world continues to evolve. Therefore, those seeking to acquire medical knowledge can expect the PSBB section to continue to evolve over time.

The PSBB section requires students to have an open mind, and it reflects on current medical affairs and ethical values.

2. Intersection Understanding

student writing on a sheet

Besides understanding the physical and biological sciences, organic chemistry, and other scientific concepts, a student should link ideas from the four MCAT sections.

You may find a question having biology and general chemistry ideas in it.

At this point, critical thinking, your scientific knowledge, plus scientific reasoning may help you choose the correct answer for these types of questions.

Make sure you start preparing for the exam in advance and take it in time for medical school admissions.

3. Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills Assessment

This section of the exam determines how well one reasons, analyzes information, and comes up with new ideas.

This is different from the regular academic work shown by the scholastic aptitude test for medical students earlier.

The new test for getting admitted to most medical schools focuses on reasoning and critical analysis.

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Final Thoughts on the MCAT Change

Now you know that the last MCAT test change occurred in April 2015, and since then, there haven’t been any other significant changes.

I personally believe that the new MCAT is better than the old MCAT.

New medical practitioners' knowledge should not only be based on academic works, which is why the new exam reflects today's medical affairs. This instills the right information and delivers a broader understanding to prospective health care students.

Since you know what to expect from the new MCAT, you are ready to start preparing for this exam.

Make sure you prepare in time to get your MCAT score before medical school admissions.


References:

  1. https://students-residents.aamc.org/about-mcat-exam/changing-mcat-exam

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