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Hi all, 

The AAMC just announced that all exams for 2020 will be shortened to 5h45m.  

There will be a total of 76 minutes for 48 questions in each of the 4 sections. 

They removed some "field test questions" but there will be less time per question, especially for CARS. 

Thoughts? 

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They've also added 3 extra testing dates, and additional sitting (early morning, afternoon and evening). And even though they've made all these changes, there will definitely be more changes in the near future. We aren't even close to re-opening to normal circumstances and there is a backlog of many standardized testing. Lets see what happens. things are changing rapidly 

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From my understanding this was so that they could accommodate more exams in light of COVID19, correct?  Meaning, I don't think this is a permanent change? 

I think this definitely makes for a more stressful testing situation, in part just because of knowing that you have less time per question! That alone could have a significant affect on some peoples test experience and score!!

On the other hand, from my understanding, standardization of scoring would make it so that people taking tests in this situation wouldn't have a significant disadvantage when their marks are compared to others who took the "normal" test. Also, it's nice that you don't have any chance of getting stuck on a question that is just being tried out and instead you know that all your time is being put into questions that are relevant and important! Lots of people I wrote the test with finished most sections early (admittedly I did not finish every section early) so hopefully the timing won't make a huge difference for the majority  of people (obviously it would be best if the timing remained the same though for fairness). 

Overall, with the worlds current circumstances it is tough for this sort of thing to be dealt with in a way that is absolutely fair to everyone but I have faith that AAMC really tried to come up with the best option and this does seem to be decently fair! Lots of the elements of the MCAT are maintained (still in person, still testing the same things) while allowing everyone who wants to or was supposed to write it the chance to despite the ongoing oddness of the world!

These are just my initial thoughts! I am sure there are lots of things that I haven't considered so I'm really interested to hear if anyone has any other thoughts or insights into this decision :) (especially because I am admittedly not the most knowledgable on the scoring process etc)

Also, it will be interesting to see if this is what ends up happening since things may still be closed when testing is supposed to occur

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In my opinion if you can't standardize a standardized test against people who wrote it previous cycles, the point of your standardized test is moot. I'm pretty frustrated. To me it makes more sense to add full dates with full exams vs. a shortened format. The 6:30 am start time? Ridiculous and my guess is unprecedented. How are students going to use public transport to get to the facility that early? Oh right, we're made of money if we can write the MCAT so why not just hop in a cab. 

5 hours and 45 minutes is still a significant chunk of time and without that 30 minute break to refuel, use the facilities etc, my guess is that the exam will feel longer and stamina will continue to be an issue.

Less questions means there's more at stake as one question holds more weight in the final score. More weight AND slightly less time? Not a good solution. 

Lots of research goes into these exams... they started preparing for the 2015 MCAT in 2008. While I get that we're in new territory with this pandemic, it's frustrating that this new method is going to count as one of my 7 lifetime exams/ 3 per year exams/ 4 per two consecutive years exams and it might go horribly. We're also paying the same amount as those who took the full-lengths and I'm not exactly sure why. 

So yeah to sum it all up, I'm disappointed. There was already a bunch of factors that are barriers to succeeding on the MCAT this cycle, but for them to go and change every single exam to this new format solidifies that those writing this year shouldn't be compared to those who have written it in the past. My best solution I can think of was adding more full days, but I guess that wasn't possible in the eyes of the AAMC.

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To add on the previous great points, keeping the time/question similar, but lowering the total time, will still make the test more difficult, especially for people used to full length resources. Spend 5 minutes stuck on a problem? That now hurts you more than before. The mind games that no longer having experimental questions will cause are also huge. At least we have confirmation as to the number of test passages now... People who are fast at tests and finish early are in a better place, but its still not great. The low number of breaks is now going to turn it into an even worse exam to take. I really appreciated the 30 minute lunch break, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. Different start times are also going to make for a tough exam. 

Looking ahead, I'm struggling to see how schools will be able to adjust to taking both MCAT 2015 and 2020 format. No doubt for now they'll accept both. Undoubtedly, some people will do just fine and get in next year, but for everyone else afterwards, and people applying with older MCATs, are they going to make people who took the 2020 version rewrite to ensure a level playing field 2 years from now? I kinda doubt it, which makes the process even worse. 

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Ppl need to get over themselves. We are in unprecedented times. Atleast AAMC is making the MCAT available for applicants.

 

In the grand scheme of things, there are much more serious things going on... Also, an important part of medicine is resilience and adapting to difficult situations.... 

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11 minutes ago, takasugi said:

Ppl need to get over themselves. We are in unprecedented times. Atleast AAMC is making the MCAT available for applicants.

 

In the grand scheme of things, there are much more serious things going on... Also, an important part of medicine is resilience and adapting to difficult situations.... 

This sentiment needs to stop. 

Yes, these are unprecedented times. Yes, we are in the middle of a terrible pandemic. We must stay resilient and adapt to these difficult times. 

However, there is absolutely no reason for anybody to stop thinking about the life that is ahead of them, and I’m not talking about just the MCAT. It is about everything that happens to you in your life. People have every right to question what is happening to them. You should stand for what you believe in regardless of whether the world is collapsing or not. It doesn’t change who you are, what your goals are, or what you believe in. You can be a good person. You can care about what is happening in the world, and you can still care about yourself at the same time; the two are NOT mutually exclusive. The very same people in this thread may be doing more than both you and I in the fight against COVID-19. This is PM101, a platform that should allow others to express their opinions about their future aspirations without getting shot down just because “there are bigger problems”. 

I have already taken the MCAT. This change doesn’t affect me. But it effects others, and they have every right to talk about it. 

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12 hours ago, takasugi said:

Ppl need to get over themselves. We are in unprecedented times. Atleast AAMC is making the MCAT available for applicants.

 

In the grand scheme of things, there are much more serious things going on... Also, an important part of medicine is resilience and adapting to difficult situations...

All of your comments are easy to say when you're waiting for post-interview results. Try putting yourself in their shoes, that's another important skill for medicine.

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10 hours ago, premed72 said:

All of your comments are easy to say when you're waiting for post-interview results. Try putting yourself in their shoes, that's another important skill for medicine.

Putting yourself in other peoples' shoes, recognizing inequalities and advocating for those who may be disproportionately affected. All important qualities in a physician. 

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On 4/25/2020 at 12:42 AM, takasugi said:

Ppl need to get over themselves. We are in unprecedented times. Atleast AAMC is making the MCAT available for applicants.

 

In the grand scheme of things, there are much more serious things going on... Also, an important part of medicine is resilience and adapting to difficult situations.... 

Other important things in medicine is compassion, empathy, being able to look at all sides of an issue and being able to see things from other people's perspectives. 

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To add to this, my parents are immunocompromised and I am worried about taking the MCAT at a test center and coming back home to them.

I also can't simply self-isolate somewhere else for 14 days because I simply can't afford that.

I hope Canadian medical schools can see everyone's perspective when they make a decision. There are pros and cons to removing the MCAT or pushing the deadline to write. I hope when they come to a conclusion, they weigh all options out and make it as fair as possible to all applicants.

AAMC operates based on American schools and what's happening in the US right now and in every State (some have lifted their lockdowns). But the situation is a bit different here so hopefully things are taken into consideration.

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On 4/24/2020 at 10:15 PM, EthicsForBreakfast said:

In my opinion if you can't standardize a standardized test against people who wrote it previous cycles, the point of your standardized test is moot. I'm pretty frustrated. To me it makes more sense to add full dates with full exams vs. a shortened format. The 6:30 am start time? Ridiculous and my guess is unprecedented. How are students going to use public transport to get to the facility that early? Oh right, we're made of money if we can write the MCAT so why not just hop in a cab. 

5 hours and 45 minutes is still a significant chunk of time and without that 30 minute break to refuel, use the facilities etc, my guess is that the exam will feel longer and stamina will continue to be an issue.

Less questions means there's more at stake as one question holds more weight in the final score. More weight AND slightly less time? Not a good solution. 

Lots of research goes into these exams... they started preparing for the 2015 MCAT in 2008. While I get that we're in new territory with this pandemic, it's frustrating that this new method is going to count as one of my 7 lifetime exams/ 3 per year exams/ 4 per two consecutive years exams and it might go horribly. We're also paying the same amount as those who took the full-lengths and I'm not exactly sure why. 

So yeah to sum it all up, I'm disappointed. There was already a bunch of factors that are barriers to succeeding on the MCAT this cycle, but for them to go and change every single exam to this new format solidifies that those writing this year shouldn't be compared to those who have written it in the past. My best solution I can think of was adding more full days, but I guess that wasn't possible in the eyes of the AAMC.

I just want to wish you all luck. We're living in some pretty wild times, and this is not the sort of stress you want to have added to what—for me at least—felt like the biggest day of my life. You have every right to be frustrated.

I could be totally wrong here, but I'm pretty sure the AAMC doesn't want to fail a whole year of applicants (the authority of their exam depends on scores aligning to the curve they've created). They have a very large body of data about their exam—how difficult each question is, how much time it takes people to complete, and I imagine they will be using this to make the exam as fair as possible given the new constraints.

Again, I wish you luck. I have much respect for everyone writing the MCAT this year, and I think the resilience of your cohort will show in the years to come.

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Would this change in any way if we wrote it in 2021? For example in January? I do not want to write it in 5 hours and 45 minutes, especially studying for so long for this exam. This also would not be fair to everyone else who got a longer time for their questions, and I hope they only do this method for 2020 and not 2021.

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12 minutes ago, overlooked said:

Would this change in any way if we wrote it in 2021? For example in January? I do not want to write it in 5 hours and 45 minutes, especially studying for so long for this exam. This also would not be fair to everyone else who got a longer time for their questions, and I hope they only do this method for 2020 and not 2021.

Unless you can predict how the pandemic goes, who knows? If you're not applying this cycle, I wouldn't write it this summer. Why not write it Summer 2021 if you're applying Fall 2021?

They're only doing this modification to fit more time slots and allow social distancing. 

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27 minutes ago, swoman said:

Unless you can predict how the pandemic goes, who knows? If you're not applying this cycle, I wouldn't write it this summer. Why not write it Summer 2021 if you're applying Fall 2021?

They're only doing this modification to fit more time slots and allow social distancing. 

I actually have my summers planned out so I can't do that. I was supposed to have a summer job this summer and write the MCAT next summer, but it got cancelled. I have to write it this summer or sometime during the year now, since I need to have that job next summer. I might also do a co-op next summer, and absolutely do not plan on writing the MCAT then, and instead plan on writing it now since I have all the free time. I will apply in 2022, and not 2021, but I have jobs and courses lined up in the next summers.

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10 hours ago, overlooked said:

I actually have my summers planned out so I can't do that. I was supposed to have a summer job this summer and write the MCAT next summer, but it got cancelled. I have to write it this summer or sometime during the year now, since I need to have that job next summer. I might also do a co-op next summer, and absolutely do not plan on writing the MCAT then, and instead plan on writing it now since I have all the free time. I will apply in 2022, and not 2021, but I have jobs and courses lined up in the next summers.

Then do the MCAT in the spring of 2021 or 2022

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5 hours ago, swoman said:

Then do the MCAT in the spring of 2021 or 2022

Oh I did not know I could do that. If I am graduating in April 2022, and plan on applying to med school on June 2022, when is the latest time that I can take the MCAT? Could I take it in June or July? Let me know, thank you.

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11 minutes ago, overlooked said:

Oh I did not know I could do that. If I am graduating in April 2022, and plan on applying to med school on June 2022, when is the latest time that I can take the MCAT? Could I take it in June or July? Let me know, thank you.

For the current cycle, the last date for OMSAS to receive MCAT scores was Nov 1, 2019. So you could even write it in October (and would be applying prior to knowing your score).

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29 minutes ago, Artier said:

For the current cycle, the last date for OMSAS to receive MCAT scores was Nov 1, 2019. So you could even write it in October (and would be applying prior to knowing your score).

That’s so great, I had no idea that I could do that. People told me that I had to take it at least one year prior to replying or they won’t receive it. I’m happy to know it’s not true. That means I can also apply at the end of third year instead of waiting to apply at the end of fourth year. Do you know which grades U of A, U of C, or UBC will take if I apply end of third year? Like will I get wGPA and have my lowest year dropped, since I plan to attend medical school the year after I graduate?  

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