2015 MCAT Includes New Social and Behavioral Sciences Section

Starting in spring 2015, the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) will test prospective medical students’ knowledge of the social and behavioral sciences. The MCAT2015, the first update to the MCAT since 1992, includes a new section on “Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior.” The section is weighted equally to the two other subject-knowledge sections, “Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems” and “Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems,” in terms of length and number of questions (a fourth section on critical analysis is shorter). According to the MCAT website:

“This section tests your knowledge and use of the concepts in psychology, sociology, biology, research methods, and statistics that provide a solid foundation for learning in medical school about the behavioral and socio-cultural determinants of health and health outcomes.

“Understanding the behavioral and socio-cultural determinants of health is important to the study of medicine. You will be tested on your knowledge of the ways in which psychological, social, and biological factors influence perceptions and reactions to the world; behavior, and behavior change; what people think about themselves and others; the cultural and social differences that influence well-being; and the relationships between social stratification, access to resources, and well-being.”

The development of the MCAT2015 began in 2008 with the convening of an advisory committee, which delivered recommendations that were enacted in 2012. This article in the New England Journal of Medicine lays out the arguments for including the social and behavioral sciences in the test. More information about the MCAT2015 is available here.

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Posted in Issue 19 (October 20), Update, Volume 33 (2014)

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