Category: MCAT

The new version of the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) will be administered starting on April 17, 2015. As we’ve covered before, there are some important changes to the MCAT that will change the way students prepare for the exam.

One of the most significant changes consists of the addition of a new section called “Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior.” Also, the Biological Sciences section will change to focus more on biochemistry. The entire test is increasing in length, with each section allowing for more time.

The new MCAT will increase in overall duration from 5 hours, 10 minutes to 7 hours, 30 minutes. Individual sections will use a scoring scale from 118-132 with a median score of 125, and the cumulative score will range from 472-528 (median 500).

There are some added benefits of taking the new MCAT exam in the first offering. First, students can still submit their completed application through the AMCAS to medical schools at the same time as those who took the previous version of the exam. Test results will be sent in early July. Second, students are able to learn more about their scores much earlier in the application process. Preliminary estimates of score ranges are sent to you about three weeks after the test. Third, if you take the April exam, you’ll be sent an Amazon gift card worth half of your registration fee. More information is available here.

Sandweiss Test Prep offers free seminars to learn more about the changes to the MCAT and about our revised MCAT course. The next MCAT seminar will be Thursday, February 26th at 6:30 in our Seattle office, located at 444 NE Ravenna Blvd. Suite 108. Attendees will receive $100 off the tuition for any of our 2015 MCAT courses. Our next course begins on February 28, 2015.

Feel free to contact us to see if we’re offering any MCAT courses, and how you can register.

The MCAT (or Medical College Admission Test) is changing in the most meaningful way since it was first implemented. After a review period of three years, the Association of American Medical College determined that the test needed to change to help college admissions departments better select their incoming crop of potential medical students. By doing this, it’s changing about 50% of the test’s content, adding a new section, increasing the test’s length, and changing the score scale.

The specifics:

– A new section called Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior will test the student’s ability to understand various influences on a person’s behavior, emotion, and stress.

– The Biological Sciences section is also undergoing a change. The section will focus more on biochemistry and be similar to what’s taught in first-semester biochemistry classes.

– Every section is going to increase in length and allow for more time.

– Overall, the test time is increasing from 5 hours and 10 minutes to 7 hours 30 minutes.

– Individual sections will use a scoring scale from 118-132 (median 125) and the cumulative score ranges from 472-528 (median 500).

The added duration means the length of time the test takes will increase by about 50%, making it much more challenging. Preparation is key, so effective study habits, material retention, and high-quality assistance should be prioritized for months before taking the examination. It’s an endurance challenge as much as anything, so proper rest, diet, and hydration in the few days leading up to the test are incredibly important.

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Getting ready for college is a big task, and certainly important—but getting into grad school can be equally as important and much more difficult. Depending on the type of program you’re pursuing, there’s likely a test you’ll need to take as part of the admission process. Whether it’s the GRE, GMAT, LSAT, or MCAT, Sandweiss Test Prep can help you get ready for the entrance exam. The farther in advance you start preparing for grad school, the better off you’ll be. Here are a few tips on getting ready for grad school:

Applying for Graduate School

Research schools in depth

The school you choose is a huge next step in life—and can play a big part in helping you get off on the right foot for your future career. Go beyond the program’s website. Visit the school, talk to professors, talk to students and graduates, if possible. Learn what others, including potential future employers, think of the program you’re considering.

Gather your recommendations

As we move farther down the life path, recommendations bear more and more weight. Getting into grad school is perhaps one of the first steps in life where it’s crucial to have solid, non-familial, professional recommendations. Most graduate programs want recommendations from professors, but letters from internship advisors and workplace supervisors can also be helpful.

Know your deadlines!

We can’t reiterate how important this is. The process can take upwards of six months, so your research should be started at LEAST a year away from when you’re intending to start grad school. Set calendar reminders in advance just to be sure you don’t miss anything.

Present yourself for the task at hand

If you’re applying for law school, present yourself as someone who would make a good lawyer—and leave out the stuff that doesn’t relate. Admissions officers go through a LOT of applications—and don’t have time for fluff. Get down to business, explain and show why you’re a good fit—and leave the rest out.

Be prepared for your entrance exam

Just because a task is difficult doesn’t mean it needs to be stressful. By preparing as much as possible, your entrance exam doesn’t need to cause anxiety or add stress to your life! Sandweiss Test Prep can provide you with free diagnostic testing, full length prep courses, and private tutoring  to help you prepare for your exam and put a little sanity back in the craziness of the grad school application process.

After Acceptance

Once you are accepted to graduate school, there is still plenty to do before classes begin. Here are a few tips to help you excel, whether you are fresh from undergrad or going back to school after spending time in the workforce:

Have all of your documents prepared ahead of time

Financial aid and student forms all need to  be ready to file before the semester begins. Play it safe by making an appointment with your advisor to go over your scholarship and/or loan agreement forms. Failing to have any one of these complete before the semester begins can create serious problems when starting grad school.

Review ahead of time

As an incoming student, you should be able to access the syllabi and textbooks before classes begin. Use this time to get ahead of the curve. Familiarize yourself with the major themes you’ll be studying, read over the table of contents in your textbooks and review the professor evaluations from previous students to learn what your instructors will be expecting of you.

Get organized

Organization is key both to survive grad school to use the materials you create later on in your portfolio. You will need to get your act in triple-A shape right away to stay on top of your workload and manage priorities. And in the long run, you’ll want to have everything organized in such a way that you can easily pull out your prior work when updating your portfolio or resume.

Study to learn

The point here is not to cram for the highest grade possible and then forget everything as you move on, but to learn and retain information that you will be using for the rest of your professional life. If cramming helps you to retain information, great; but remember that you are no longer studying just to ace the next test, but to prepare yourself for a career.

Whether you are wrapping up undergrad or going back to school after some time in the workforce, best of luck on your search for graduate school. We’ll be here for you when it’s time to prep for your entrance exam!

Featured photo from here.


From Kiplinger, five graduate degrees that tend to pay off in the end:

  1. M.D.    Physicians’ incomes range from about $188,000, on average, for family practitioners to more than $485,000 for orthopedic surgeons. As the population ages, job prospects for physicians will continue to be robust.
  2. Master of Public Health.    Average income: $90,970. As the health care industry changes and expands, MPHs will be increasingly sought after.
  3. Doctor of Pharmacy.    Average income (pharmacist): $106,630. We all still and will continue to need medication, as well as help navigating the changing health insurance landscape.
  4. M.B.A.    Here’s a degree that’s necessary for hiring within certain firms. Some companies will even pay for their employees to get an MBA. Job growth for business management analysts should be strong over the rest of this decade.
  5. Lawyer.    In particular, jobs at big private firms, where new lawyers earn a median annual salary of $160,000. In our supersaturated legal job market, these jobs are harder to come by than ever.

Now no one panic; this won’t be happening for years, 2015 at the earliest. But it’s an interesting prospect. Inside Higher Ed reports that a special panel has proposed the following changes to the MCAT:

  • Eliminating the writing section, which medical schools tend not to consider closely
  • Adding a behavioral and social sciences section to reflect “the evolving nature of medicine”
  • Increasing the length of the test (5.5 hours)  by 90 minutes
  • Changing the current verbal section to “Critical Analysis and Reading Skills”

The chair of the committee that drafted the plan explains the recommendation for a social sciences section:

It’s very clear that in this country a large proportion of illness is related to behavior and social and cultural problems. So we want to encourage the applicant to medical school to be thinking about those and reading about those early … you do need a solid foundation in the sciences, but you need more than that. You need to think critically and reason, and understand the differences in our society and the patients you see as a physician. We need people who are critical thinkers and people who have sensitivity and understanding of different cultures.