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Student Affairs

Thoughts on the new 2015 MCAT

Lets talk about the MCAT!  Weve been getting lots of questions about MCAT scores and what scores are considered competitive.  The answer to this is still somewhat uncertain.  As of now, we have used the new MCAT scores for one year in admissions and it will still be quite a while before we (or anybody else) knows how or what these scores may actually predict in medical student performance or outcomes.  In essence, we really know only a little more now than we did a year ago.  With this in mind, lets talk a little about some truths and how we use these new test results.  As always, Quillen continues to review all applications holistically.  That is, considering all aspects of the applicant and doing our best to determine those who are capable of success in our curriculum, those who are most likely to be the physicians we will be most proud of and those that we would send our most cherished loved ones to for care

The MCAT has traditionally been a good predictor of academic success and, at this point, it appears that the NEW MCAT scores compare favorably with the old MCAT, on a group basis.  In other words, although the two exams are not really comparable, if you assume that the population taking the test is similar, the results are coming out about the same.  What we know about the test is that the average score for those taking the test is 500 (score of 125 in each section).  We also know that, at this time, the average score of those holding acceptance to enroll at Quillen this year is 506, or about the 70th percentile.  A little below the national accepted average, but not by much.

We also know that the MCAT traditionally has held a very high correlation with student performance on other, critically important exams for progression through med school and licensure as a practicing physician.  We know that on the old exam, anyone earning a score of 7 or less in any level of the exam was likely to encounter some type of academic difficulty in med school.  This was borne out here by experience many times although it did not always happen.  Right now, we don't know what score would predict problems on the new test or even if there is one.  Were working on it and paying great attention to what happens with our students as well as those nationally.  Well keep you posted as we learn more. 

Right now my advice to all is that you do whatever you need to do to prepare adequately for the exam and make the highest score you can come up with.  In general, at this time, I would suggest that no score less than average (in total number or in sub score) will be considered as highly competitive.  The AAMC is making great efforts to keep applicants and advisers alike appraised of hard data on the new MCAT and have recently launched several new efforts to help premeds prepare for success on this exam.  I urge all interested to take advantage of the several resources available, many of which are without cost. 

These are trying times for all of us with regard to the MCAT and I assure you that we are doing our best to learn as we go.  We will continue to evaluate the MCAT as one of the important indicators in our admissions process along with the usual GPA markers and our newly instituted Situational Judgment Test. 

Doug Taylor
Associate Dean for Student Affairs
Director Admissions and Records
ETSU Quillen College of Medicine

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