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It looks like people who receive accommodations on the MCAT will no longer have their score flagged:

AAMC website announcement

I make no value judgment about whether score flagging is good or bad (not at present). However, I invite other people to post their opinions.

Interestingly, I don't see any news stories about this. Prior to this policy change, which takes effect in "late March of 2015", people who received MCAT accommodations for a disability got an asterisk or something similar stating that the test was "administered under non-standard conditions". Although this asterisk sometimes meant the student got extended time, it could also appear if the proctor fell asleep during the test (true story) or if there was a power outage during the test (also a true story). Same asterisk in all cases.

Of note, the MCAT is the last major exam in the US to abandon the policy of flagging scores. The LSAT (law school admission test) had to stop flagging scores in 2014 because they lost a lawsuit, it was a somewhat major news item. The LSAT was also fined several million dollars. News stories at that time pointed out that the MCAT was the only holdout, and their policy probably would not withstand a lawsuit.

The SAT had to stop flagging scores in 2002, also because they lost a lawsuit.

The GRE (for grad school) is not flagged. The TOEFL (test of English as a foreign language) is not flagged. The GMAT (for business school) is not flagged. I have grown bored of looking up standardized tests, it is apparent that none of them are flagged anymore.

Receiving accommodations on the MCAT is still extremely difficult. The MCAT has a reputation for setting the bar extremely high, relative to other standardized tests. According to the latest data I can find, less than 1% of MCAT examinees are approved for extended time, stop-the-clock breaks, extended breaks, or other accommodations that change the timing. Accommodations for personal medical items (such as food, water, or medication) are more common and apparently easier to get. Other accommodations include increased font size for poor vision. All these accommodations used to get an asterisk (a flag), now none will.

Whether it is fair to grant extended time is a difficult question, but it is possible to address this question with science. Unfortunately, this research has not been done in the case of the MCAT. Research does exist for the SAT, and it seems that extended time on the SAT is indeed fair. The disabled students who receive extended time go on to do well in college, their SAT scores remain a valid predictor of college grades.

From a legal standpoint, it seems rather clear that score flagging was a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Every time this question was tested by a court, the court ruled that score flagging is illegal (see the LSAT decision in 2014 and the SAT decision in 2002). The ADA makes it very clear that employers and schools cannot ask applicants if they are disabled (with limited exceptions). If you cannot ask, then why should you be notified?

The ADA is actually an interesting law. A man applying for a job was asked if he was disabled, and he lied and said no. Upon learning of his disability, the employer fired him for lying in his interview. This went to court, and the court ruled that the man had been wrongfully terminated. The man had a right to lie, because the question itself was illegal. The opposing lawyers argued that the man should have told his interviewer, "that question is illegal, I will not answer it," but the court found that answering in that manner would potentially bias the interviewer. Lying was legally permissible under those circumstances.

As I mentioned in another post, the ADA does not protect people with temporary disabilities such as broken bones. The MCAT doesn't allow you to have a cast on, and they are not obligated to bend this policy, even with advance notice and a doctor's note. This seems rather silly to me, but in theory you could hide a cheat sheet inside your cast. Also in theory, you can wait until your bone heals and then take the MCAT.

Laws are weird.
 

sb247

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The ADA laws are out of line on some things. If the standard for the test is certain time limits with no breaks or food...then that's the standard and everyone should have to meet that standard.
 
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If the standard for the test is certain time limits with no breaks or food...then that's the standard and everyone should have to meet that standard.
You would enforce the "no food" rule even if the person has severe hypoglycemia? What about the "no water, no pills" rule for someone with a serious and well-documented medical illness?

I definitely disagree with you on those points. If someone has hypoglycemia, then they should be allowed food if it is quiet (not disruptive to other test takers) and checked for cheating material. If someone has a medical condition then they should definitely be allowed pills and water. (Off topic, but I am not sure why they don't allow everyone water. Either provide the water, or let people bring a sealed water bottle with the label torn off, similar to the sealed earplugs you are allowed to bring. Why no water?)

I would be 100% comfortable being treated by a doctor who needs to eat more often than average, or who needs to take pills sometimes. Discriminating against such a doctor would be wrong, in my opinion, and in the opinion of the US Senate, House of Representatives, and President.

Allowing a test taker to bring in pills and water doesn't even cost money, unlike building handicap ramps.
 
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sb247

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You would enforce the "no food" rule even if the person has severe hypoglycemia? What about the "no water, no pills" rule for someone with a serious and well-documented medical illness?

I definitely disagree with you on those points. If someone has hypoglycemia, then they should be allowed food if it is quiet (not disruptive to other test takers) and checked for cheating material. If someone has a medical condition then they should definitely be allowed pills and water. (Off topic, but I am not sure why they don't allow everyone water. Either provide the water, or let people bring a sealed water bottle with the label torn off, similar to the sealed earplugs you are allowed to bring. Why no water?)

I would be 100% comfortable being treated by a doctor who needs to eat more often than average, or who needs to take pills sometimes. Discriminating against such a doctor would be wrong, in my opinion, and in the opinion of the US Senate, House of Representatives, and President.

Allowing a test taker to bring in pills and water doesn't even cost money, unlike building handicap ramps.
it's a matter of similar circumstances, if water is fine it's ok for everyone....if pills are fine, they're fine for everyone
 
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it's a matter of similar circumstances, if water is fine it's ok for everyone....if pills are fine, they're fine for everyone
I happen to believe that water and pills should be allowed for everyone. However, you believe that the AAMC should have the right to forbid water and pills for everyone. I do not believe the AAMC can forbid water and pills if they are medically necessary. The AAMC does not have that right, it would be discrimination.

The AAMC has two valid choices: They can allow water and pills for everyone, or they can allow water and pills only for people with a documented medical need. They cannot disallow water and pills in cases of medical need.

You cannot make a rule that is immoral (and illegal), even if you apply the rule consistently. I cannot declare that it is okay for me to punch people, even if I punch everyone exactly twice. Nobody got punched extra, but it is still not acceptable. Applying a rule consistently does not make it fair.
 

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The point of a standardized test is that it is standardized allowing easy comparison across administrations.

Any non standardized component should be marked and leave it up to evaluators on how to compare.
 

sb247

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I happen to believe that water and pills should be allowed for everyone. However, you believe that the AAMC should have the right to forbid water and pills for everyone. I do not believe the AAMC can forbid water and pills if they are medically necessary. The AAMC does not have that right, it would be discrimination.

The AAMC has two valid choices: They can allow water and pills for everyone, or they can allow water and pills only for people with a documented medical need. They cannot disallow water and pills in cases of medical need.

You cannot make a rule that is immoral (and illegal), even if you apply the rule consistently. I cannot declare that it is okay for me to punch people, even if I punch everyone exactly twice. Nobody got punched extra, but it is still not acceptable. Applying a rule consistently does not make it fair.
taking the MCAT is not a right...I get where you are coming from but the point of that exam is to be standardized, so it should be. Any accoomodation for medical reasons either needs to be addressed one of two ways. It's either an accommodation that doesn't effect cheating and everyone should get the same treatment or it's an unreasonable and you just don't get it no matter what your reason is........standardized
 

efle

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I'm with sb247 on this one, I don't care if all people get to have some snacks or water or whatever...but I DO care if only some people get extra time, extra breaks etc. If it would likely help a normal test-taker perform better, it's wrong to make exception.

Here's an interesting followup question: The MCAT is often seen as a test of your test-prep and test-taking abilities. Is there exception made on med school exams or on the steps? If yes, it seems like exceptions in the MCAT don't harm its validity as a metric because the people getting exceptions will continue to get exceptions. If no, it becomes a problem because MCAT performance with exception will probably be a garbage predictor of test/step performance without exception.
 

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Yes, finally. And a few folks in medical school get time accommodations. Probably the same proportion of us who get accommodations on MCAT (very minor number). You can get accommodations for Steps too. Probably same process, just need to keep all the documentation, and update it with new testing assessments every 3 years.
 

otterxavier

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Here's an interesting followup question: The MCAT is often seen as a test of your test-prep and test-taking abilities. Is there exception made on med school exams or on the steps? If yes, it seems like exceptions in the MCAT don't harm its validity as a metric because the people getting exceptions will continue to get exceptions. If no, it becomes a problem because MCAT performance with exception will probably be a garbage predictor of test/step performance without exception.
From the USMLE website:

The United States Medical Licensing Examination Program provides reasonable and appropriate accommodations in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act for individuals with documented disabilities who demonstrate a need for accommodation. Examinees are informed of the availability of test accommodations in the USMLE Bulletin of Information: Applying and Scheduling and in the Application Instructions.

The USMLE Composite Committee has directed that USMLE score reports and transcripts issued on or after September 10, 2014 will not include an annotation that a test accommodation was granted.
I don't care if all people get to have some snacks or water or whatever...but I DO care if only some people get extra time, extra breaks etc. If it would likely help a normal test-taker perform better, it's wrong to make exception.
Also from the USMLE website, emphasis mine:

The purpose of accommodations is to provide equal access to the USMLE testing program. Accommodations "match up" with the identified functional limitation so that the area of impairment is alleviated by an auxiliary aid or adjustment to the testing procedure.​



(SDN seems really focused on things like extra snacks, but I'm also curious to know, although haven't been able to find any AAMC stats about this, what percent of accommodations are for things that genuinely would not make a difference except for a person with a specific disability -- e.g., bringing an inhaler into the testing room or having the print size increased on the exam.)
 
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Ad2b

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Accommodations are meant to give the students a level playing field, so to speak, not an unfair disadvantage though I can see how jealous students might interpret it this way. Which is sad because it tacitly states that you approve of discriminating against others given there is something different about them.
 
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I am dyslexic. It physically takes me longer to read and process information. Its not something I can control and it also causes me to put in twice the amount of effort as a normal individual to do just as well. I am offended that people who were gifted with not having a learning disability would be opposed to those of us with one to have a little extra time. At the end of the day I think those with out a disability have a significant advantage even with extra time given to those with learning disabilities.
 

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The point of a standardized test is that it is standardized allowing easy comparison across administrations.

Any non standardized component should be marked and leave it up to evaluators on how to compare.
You do realize that the mark can mean anything right. There could be an earthquake and the tester takes the test at a different time, but under the same standard conditions. And each non-standard condition is different, thus cannot be evaluated the same.
 

Ad2b

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I am dyslexic. It physically takes me longer to read and process information. Its not something I can control and it also causes me to put in twice the amount of effort as a normal individual to do just as well. I am offended that people who were gifted with not having a learning disability would be opposed to those of us with one to have a little extra time. At the end of the day I think those with out a disability have a significant advantage even with extra time given to those with learning disabilities.
And in no way, does the fact that it takes longer for you to read and process indicate what type, or how great, of a physician you WILL be.
 

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You do realize that the mark can mean anything right. There could be an earthquake and the tester takes the test at a different time, but under the same standard conditions. And each non-standard condition is different, thus cannot be evaluated the same.
Yes. As I said any non standard administration should be marked. Let the schools decide how or how much they want to delve into the reason for non standardized conditions.
 
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efle

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Accommodations are meant to give the students a level playing field, so to speak, not an unfair disadvantage though I can see how jealous students might interpret it this way. Which is sad because it tacitly states that you approve of discriminating against others given there is something different about them.
Seriously? It's totally legitimate to question whether a metric remains valid when administered under different conditions. If an exam is testing your ability to solve basic math problems under a lot of time pressure, then administering that exam with unlimited time necessarily changes what the score reflects compared to a typical administration, and presenting them as equivalent is hiding a critical difference.

The question isn't whether the test under various conditions is fair; it much like other tests is clearly unfair to begin with as some people are simply more intelligent/gifted at what it assesses. The question is really whether it remains a measure of what med schools are interested in. If you want to argue that it's good to have no accommodation notification, you need to argue that med schools don't care whether you're slow to read and comprehend etc, which I'd argue is considered important (it's basically the point of the Verbal section).

Turning this into a "gunners are jealous of extra time etc and so are spiteful towards the disabled" is a strawman. Forget what's fair. If med schools want people who read quickly with high comprehension, and a dyslexic is objectively poorer at this task (through no fault of their own), then it's detrimental to present a dyslexic's accommodated score unmarked if the goal of the test is to best inform med schools about applicant abilities.

And in no way, does the fact that it takes longer for you to read and process indicate what type, or how great, of a physician you WILL be.
:rolleyes: Yeah, agreed, a 4.0/40+ doesn't mean you'll be a good doctor, but that's a red herring. At the moment med schools seek people who read and process accurately and quickly - whether that's a legitimate way to select physicians is a different discussion entirely.

You do realize that the mark can mean anything right. There could be an earthquake and the tester takes the test at a different time, but under the same standard conditions. And each non-standard condition is different, thus cannot be evaluated the same.
You do realize med schools can ask about it right
 
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It is impossible to make everyone perfectly equal. You make people as equal as you possibly can. But of course some will work it so they may have an advantage over others. I don't understand why some have to whine about it. If they have to accommodate these people or get sued, it is only practical to accommodate them. Whether or not they are gaming the system/whether or not it is fair (i.e. equal, and it is not) is a moot point. If you intend to network with some of your extremely powerful federal politician friends, then sure let's have a discussion. If not, though, you're blowing steam and this is pointless. The simple fact is, as long as it is possible for individuals with disabilities to hire attorneys who can successfully argue to a judge/jury that the they have been mistreated by getting the same amount of time/accommodations as everyone else, then this is how it will be.

I'm assuming most of you have a science background. You know there is no way to control for every single variable here anyway. It is not at all uncommon to work hard and get less than someone who worked far less. But I don't even know what metric you are using to compare people here; there are a million differences between all of us that we could never account for perfectly with this sort of a system. Whatever someone has to do to get ahead in a competition, as long as it is legal, is fair game. It doesn't matter if the others didn't do it. There are rules; those that know how to give themselves an advantage without breaking any, win. I will take the test myself without any handicap; however, if someone else around my skill level was able to BS their way into a disability accommodation to get a leg up, and that translates to a higher score on the test, then he/she wins. It's that simple.

Nontheless, though, hard work on this should translate into a decent grade. If not, there's always DO. If not, there's always PA/pharm/CRNA/DS. If not, there's always being an overworked research assistant. If not, there's always McD's.
 
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efle

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It is impossible to make everyone perfectly equal. You make people as equal as you possibly can. But of course some will work it so they may have an advantage over others. I don't understand why some have to whine about it. If they have to accommodate these people or get sued, it is only practical to accommodate them. Whether or not they are gaming the system/whether or not it is fair (i.e. equal, and it is not) is a moot point. If you intend to network with some of your extremely powerful federal politician friends, then sure let's have a discussion. If not, though, you're blowing steam and this is pointless. The simple fact is, as long as it is possible for individuals with disabilities to hire attorneys who can successfully argue to a judge/jury that the they have been mistreated by getting the same amount of time/accommodations as everyone else, then this is how it will be.

I'm assuming most of you have a science background. You know there is no way to control for every single variable here anyway.
"Problem too hard, ignore" is weak af dude. You must hate phil classes if you can't discuss things in the realm of hypotheticals
 
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StudyLater

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"Problem too hard, ignore" is weak af dude. You must hate phil classes if you can't discuss things in the realm of hypotheticals
How did you know?

But really, I hope I didn't come off exactly that way. I think normal people (i.e. those with no power) should not worry themselves over things like this, as they cannot do much to begin with. However, those with power (i.e. connections to individuals who can make a change) should be thinking about these issues and hopefully come up with superior solutions. However, again, if we're in philosophy class, what is superior? This is simply decided by the most powerful individuals. It can be whatever they decide. If we step into history class, we know things could be worse than some kid scoring a few points higher on the MCAT due to incorrect accommodations. It's not like scores will be significantly inflated because of this. That's why it's frankly not something to cry over. Generally, the average individuals in a society don't get pissed off enough to start banding together to make change unless they are being severely abused in some way. This is not severe abuse. This is some other guy doing better than you for "no good reason," (again, subjective) and you still getting into med school because you did well on the MCAT anyway. And by the way, the guy doing better than you because of the accommodations is an assumption that has not been proven. Maybe more time/breaks/whatever does him no good? It's perfectly possible.

I was mainly pointing out that I don't understand why people "of age" still don't understand how our society works. Things have never been fair for everyone. If that's how people who run these institutions want it, then that is how it will be.
 
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The flagging is an issue because a lot of people wrongly assume that a disability is a indicator of unlikely success. Also for learning disabilities people assume that those who have one have lower IQs this is simply not the case most people with learning disabilities actually have above average IQ it is unfair to have something marked that might bring on unjust assumptions.
 
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sb247

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The flagging is an issue because a lot of people wrongly assume that a disability is a indicator of unlikely success. Also for learning disabilities people assume that those who have one have lower IQs this is simply not the case most people with learning disabilities actually have above average IQ it is unfair to have something marked that might bring on unjust assumptions.
it's perfectly reasonable that a program charged with making sure you learn something would want to know if you have a learning disability...particularly one severe enough that you don't compete with the same rules as everyone else
 
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In a real setting other than a test day, I would have unlimited time to prepare and study. Knowing the material and being a good Doctor is different than being able to read quickly on a computer screen and process questions. You could essential give me the same information auditory and the answer choices auditory and I could answer in the same time as everyone else.
 

efle

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In a real setting other than a test day, I would have unlimited time to prepare and study. Knowing the material and being a good Doctor is different than being able to read quickly on a computer screen and process questions. You could essential give me the same information auditory and the answer choices auditory and I could answer in the same time as everyone else.
Being able to quickly read/write with comprehension/clarity is a pretty critical skill for most physicians

How did you know?

But really, I hope I didn't come off exactly that way. I think normal people (i.e. those with no power) should not worry themselves over things like this, as they cannot do much to begin with. However, those with power (i.e. connections to individuals who can make a change) should be thinking about these issues and hopefully come up with superior solutions. However, again, if we're in philosophy class, what is superior? This is simply decided by the most powerful individuals. It can be whatever they decide. If we step into history class, we know things could be worse than some kid scoring a few points higher on the MCAT due to incorrect accommodations. It's not like scores will be significantly inflated because of this. That's why it's frankly not something to cry over. Generally, the average individuals in a society don't get pissed off enough to start banding together to make change unless they are being severely abused in some way. This is not severe abuse. This is some other guy doing better than you for "no good reason," (again, subjective) and you still getting into med school because you did well on the MCAT anyway. And by the way, the guy doing better than you because of the accommodations is an assumption that has not been proven. Maybe more time/breaks/whatever does him no good? It's perfectly possible.

I was mainly pointing out that I don't understand why people "of age" still don't understand how our society works. Things have never been fair for everyone. If that's how people who run these institutions want it, then that is how it will be.
I'm not disagreeing about discussion doing squat to change things. I'm saying it's never helpful to interject "sucks, but that's how it is and we can't fix it" into a discussion. There are plenty of things worth thinking about that could never really result in meaningful changes to everyday life...like most of philosophy, or this. Argument for funsies, not to effect some change in accommodation policies

Re the bold: I think I said in an earlier post, I take issue only with things that would help most normal test takers, in which case extended/unlimited time is the major factor. Being able to spend as long as you want in Verbal for example is a huuuuuge booster for most people; that section heavily tests speed of integration/comprehension not just ability to get it eventually
 
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Its not unlimited time. At most they will give you 100x extra time. It is extremely hard to get any accommodations and the aamc has strict requirements of the psychiatrist doing the evaluations and what has to go in the report.
 
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StudyLater

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Its not unlimited time. At most they will give you 100x extra time.
I hope they let you go to sleep during the several weeks you would be in the testing center taking the exam, then.

@efle I suppose I was saying really that, realistically, this is a component of the competition. You can either take advantage of it in order to effectively compete with other individuals who you believe are gaming the system (and, therefore, you, the competitor), or you can not. So, ultimately, it's up to each one of us. Personally I wouldn't -- frankly, because I can't be bothered, and this really isn't a big enough deal to make me take action. If I score in the 80th percentile, I'm competitive. That's going to be pretty doable once more data is available on the 2015 test. Quickly bouncing one leg up and down and pretending not to pay attention in basic conversation at a psych appointment isn't going to put me in a particularly superior position.

I just checked the DSMIV; I seem to have every one of these inattentive symptoms. Somehow, I've managed to stay in school without failing out. I really don't know how I'm doing it without the prescriptions and unlimited exam time accommodations.

@CauldronCloak You would merely go to a few appointments and relate how you are unable to concentrate in classes, you commonly forget about assignments (like everyone), can't sit still in your chair, have a constant need to be moving, and have a difficult time paying attention to people. Then proceed to constantly interrupt the psych in conversation, either with your own opinions or with a question about what he just said (because you weren't listening). Pick up your prescip at the front desk. Go to weekly appointments for one/two month(s). In between, request a recommendation for a time accomodation on one of your class exams (testing the waters). If a yes is received (more than likely, if you're a convincing individual). Continue going to weekly meetings. Then put in a request for an MCAT time accommodation ~3 weeks in advance once the date starts to roll around; he/she will say yes.

I would never do this personally, as I said, because it's quite a bit of work and not really worth it (as a reference, we're not even considering ethics here; just brass tax). That said, I'm just telling you how it works; getting a psych eval is not hard at all these days. I'm sure plenty of us have several friends/acquaintances who will do so.
 
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Ad2b

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@CauldronCloak You would merely go to a few appointments and relate how you are unable to concentrate in classes, you commonly forget about assignments (like everyone), can't sit still in your chair, have a constant need to be moving, and have a difficult time paying attention to people. Then proceed to constantly interrupt the psych in conversation, either with your own opinions or with a question about what he just said (because you weren't listening). Pick up your prescip at the front desk. Go to weekly appointments for one/two month(s). In between, request a recommendation for a time accommodation on one of your class exams (testing the waters). If a yes is received (more than likely, if you're a convincing individual). Continue going to weekly meetings. Then put in a request for an MCAT time accommodation ~3 weeks in advance once the date starts to roll around; he/she will say yes.
Getting an ADHD evaluation from a licensed, certified specialist in ADHD is FAR more complicated than a "few meetings" and a "few forgetful" incidents. The tests administered by the licensed evaluator is exhaustive ... and not fun.

If at the end one is given an ADHD confirmation that is still NOT enough for AAMC to accommodate the ADHD individual. It's only one hoop to jump. don't be misguided to think it's simply a few meetings with a shrink to get the eval.

FWIW, I am accommodated. It was not fun, the process sucks, the evaluations are not fun, the AAMC is not easy nor fun nor ... pick your favorite adjective.

*I* do not care if AAMC *MCAT or not. And I know that tiny little asterisk will not in any way indicate what a fine doctor I will be... I just won't be doing e-med, or surgery or ... anything else like that.

And I am fine with any medical school asking why my MCAT is **... though now, they won't know. But I would have been in the past.

You'd be surprised at how many people in medical school get accommodated. And I bet they go on to be fine physicians.
 

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Getting an ADHD evaluation from a licensed, certified specialist in ADHD is FAR more complicated than a "few meetings" and a "few forgetful" incidents. The tests administered by the licensed evaluator is exhaustive ... and not fun.
Sorry. I didn't mean to simplify it so much. Of course, it is a time commitment, and I'm aware there is testing. But again, it's all based on how much getting this eval matters to the individual.

If at the end one is given an ADHD confirmation that is still NOT enough for AAMC to accommodate the ADHD individual. It's only one hoop to jump. don't be misguided to think it's simply a few meetings with a shrink to get the eval.
I'm interested in what this means. The eval is perfectly doable, unless you're in the wrong office. I'm not sure, though, if AAMC needs something more (e.g. time with a psych who represents the AAMC for further evaluation?)
 

IslandStyle808

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Asking about a non standard administration is against ADA or asking about a disability? Two seperate things.
They can clarify whether it was an earthquake or a requested accommodation without delving into specifics of your medical history...
The question has the potential to separate those cases who had a technical issues with their computers from those with a medical aliment/learning disability. Even if the interviewer doesn't know what that medical aliment/learning disability is, it will lead them to ponder if they are a risk. This can potentially lead to discrimination depending on how this knowledge or lack of is used. It is not that easy to separate the two.
 
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efle

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I hope they let you go to sleep during the several weeks you would be in the testing center taking the exam, then.

@efle I suppose I was saying really that, realistically, this is a component of the competition. You can either take advantage of it in order to effectively compete with other individuals who you believe are gaming the system (and, therefore, you, the competitor), or you can not. So, ultimately, it's up to each one of us. Personally I wouldn't -- frankly, because I can't be bothered, and this really isn't a big enough deal to make me take action. If I score in the 80th percentile, I'm competitive. That's going to be pretty doable once more data is available on the 2015 test. Quickly bouncing one leg up and down and pretending not to pay attention in basic conversation at a psych appointment isn't going to put me in a particularly superior position.

I just checked the DSMIV; I seem to have every one of these inattentive symptoms. Somehow, I've managed to stay in school without failing out. I really don't know how I'm doing it without the prescriptions and unlimited exam time accommodations.

@CauldronCloak You would merely go to a few appointments and relate how you are unable to concentrate in classes, you commonly forget about assignments (like everyone), can't sit still in your chair, have a constant need to be moving, and have a difficult time paying attention to people. Then proceed to constantly interrupt the psych in conversation, either with your own opinions or with a question about what he just said (because you weren't listening). Pick up your prescip at the front desk. Go to weekly appointments for one/two month(s). In between, request a recommendation for a time accomodation on one of your class exams (testing the waters). If a yes is received (more than likely, if you're a convincing individual). Continue going to weekly meetings. Then put in a request for an MCAT time accommodation ~3 weeks in advance once the date starts to roll around; he/she will say yes.

I would never do this personally, as I said, because it's quite a bit of work and not really worth it (as a reference, we're not even considering ethics here; just brass tax). That said, I'm just telling you how it works; getting a psych eval is not hard at all these days. I'm sure plenty of us have several friends/acquaintances who will do so.
We're looking at this issue in two very different ways. You're talking about what attitude someone should have who wants to get into med school. I'm talking about what attitude someone should have who wants med schools to be as informed as possible when interpreting MCAT scores.

The question has the potential to separate those cases who had a technical issues with their computers from those with a medical aliment/learning disability. Even if the interviewer doesn't know what that medical aliment/learning disability is, it will lead them to ponder if they are a risk. This can potentially lead to discrimination depending on how this knowledge or lack of is used. It is not that easy to separate the two.
Correct, the whole point of getting the med school informed about a disability is so they decide if they'll change what they read from your MCAT, without a doubt it can only harm the applicant to reveal that their score may lack the time-pressure element of the test etc. Again, forget what's fair. Yes, it unfairly sucks for the dyslexic kid that their score won't impress as much due to something outside their control.
 

IslandStyle808

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Correct, the whole point of getting the med school informed about a disability is so they decide if they'll change what they read from your MCAT, without a doubt it can only harm the applicant to reveal that their score may lack the time-pressure element of the test etc. Again, forget what's fair. Yes, it unfairly sucks for the dyslexic kid that their score won't impress as much due to something outside their control.
I am not trying to change your opinion on the matter, it is what it is. I've had dozens of these conversations on SDN. However, that question alone can violate ADA if asked incorrectly. This is why the vast majority of interviewers won't ask it.
 

efle

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the vast majority of interviewers won't ask it.
Source? Have you gone through an interview cycle at a wide variety of places with a flagged score and never/rarely been asked? Doesn't seem tough to clarify if it was requested without any mention of disability/medical history.

By your logic it would also be risky/rare to get questions about leaves of absence in your academic history, no?
 

IslandStyle808

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Source? Have you gone through an interview cycle at a wide variety of places with a flagged score and never/rarely been asked? Doesn't seem tough to clarify if it was requested without any mention of disability/medical history.

By your logic it would also be risky/rare to get questions about leaves of absence in your academic history, no?
Yes I have, and zero schools have asked me (it doesn't mean there isn't anyone who won't ask). If the student has done well on the exam, I see no reason why they should be asked about the mark on their score. However, I do believe that the school has the right to ask about a low score in general (mark or no mark). If there was some power outage that contributed to it, the student can explain that.

In the case of leaves of absences, there are far more variables than instance of the marked MCAT score. It is far easier to discern a disability if asked about the mark on a MCAT score. I am one of those that believes in reasonable accommodations. In the instance of extended leaves of absence, they do have the right to ask. The student also has the right to leave that information confidential. With an MCAT score, if the student has done well with reasonable accommodations, the knowledge of it should be irrelevant to judgement of the student. However, in the case of multiple leave of absences, this goes beyond the point of reasonable. It is more understandable to have that knowledge.
 
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As someone with a learning disability I'm surprised by some of the stuff being said here.

I discussed my "disability" in my application because I did receive accommodations on the MCAT. I scored average in both PS and BS and scored a 12 in VR. Ironically, my "disability" is reading related.

I was offered 5 interviews at MD programs. Of the 3 I went to, I was accepted at 2 and wait listed at 1 (I didn't care for it so I wasn't surprised).

Honestly, I don't think they should be flagged because it really doesn't matter. If you demonstrate in your application that you are driven and capable then that asterisks doesn't mean Jack to the admissions board and it shouldn't to you either.
 

efle

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As someone with a learning disability I'm surprised by some of the stuff being said here.

I discussed my "disability" in my application because I did receive accommodations on the MCAT. I scored average in both PS and BS and scored a 12 in VR. Ironically, my "disability" is reading related.

I was offered 5 interviews at MD programs. Of the 3 I went to, I was accepted at 2 and wait listed at 1 (I didn't care for it so I wasn't surprised).

Honestly, I don't think they should be flagged because it really doesn't matter. If you demonstrate in your application that you are driven and capable then that asterisks doesn't mean Jack to the admissions board and it shouldn't to you either.
It's not ironic; what makes Verbal hard is the massive time crunch. A person with difficulty reading given massively extended or unlimited time gets an over-compensatory advantage over someone with perfect reading being pushed to read and answer uncomfortably fast.

Your level of success doesn't provide much evidence for whether your disability was counted against you; you may have been much more successful if your score had no asterisk.

That's exactly the problem; it does matter because you aren't demonstrating the same capabilities when test conditions change. And med school admissions is FAR from rewarding drive - numbers remain first and foremost.
 
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It's not ironic; what makes Verbal hard is the massive time crunch. A person with difficulty reading given massively extended or unlimited time gets an over-compensatory advantage over someone with perfect reading being pushed to read and answer uncomfortably fast.

Your level of success doesn't provide much evidence for whether your disability was counted against you; you may have been much more successful if your score had no asterisk.

That's exactly the problem; it does matter because you aren't demonstrating the same capabilities when test conditions change. And med school admissions is FAR from rewarding drive - numbers remain first and foremost.
to say that its unfair to give accommodations such as extended time to students with learning disability... is similar to saying that it's unfair to provide a physically disable person with a wheelchair.

You will never be able to understand what students with learning disability go through unless you really understand their struggles. the problem is that you can easily observe the struggle of a physically disabled person but its impossible to observe the struggle of a person with learning disability unless you have a good understanding of their pyschological state.
 

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to say that its unfair to give accommodations such as extended time to students with learning disability... is similar to saying that it's unfair to provide a physically disable person with a wheelchair.

You will never be able to understand what students with learning disability go through unless you really understand their struggles.
To give over-compensatory extended time, ie unlimited or effectively unlimited, is the problem. If you want to make ridiculous analogies, it's actually like asking a normal person to cross 10 meters in a second, vs someone with a limp to cross it in 12 hours. Yes, they'd never be able to complete the task as presented to the typical test taker. No, you cannot read their score similarly to a typical test taker, because there is so much extra time given that even for someone working excruciatingly slowly, the time crunch component (the actual challenge of it) is gone.

And, it's a massive fallacy to say my arguments depend on any of my traits or experiences. Arguments stand separate from those presenting them. I may have severe ADHD. My arguments would not be any stronger or weaker for it.
 
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To give over-compensatory extended time, ie unlimited or effectively unlimited, is the problem. If you want to make ridiculous analogies, it's actually like asking a normal person to cross 10 meters in a second, vs someone with a limp to cross it in 12 hours. Yes, they'd never be able to complete the task as presented to the typical test taker. No, you cannot read their score similarly to a typical test taker, because there is so much extra time given that even for someone working excruciatingly slowly, the time crunch component (the actual challenge of it) is gone.

And, it's a massive fallacy to say my arguments depend on any of my traits or experiences. Arguments stand separate from those presenting them. I may have severe ADHD. My arguments would not be any stronger or weaker for it.
Im not sure where you're getting the unlimited time extension accommodation from, I've never heard of it. your example was great however you made it too dramatic. an average student could finish the test within the standarized conditions if they practice under time conditions perior to their test, however it will be near impossible for a student with a learning disability to improve, because their brain just doesn't have the capacity to make such improvements, just like a physically disabled person who doesnt have specific physical capabilities.
 
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efle

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Im not sure where you're getting the unlimited time extension accommodation from, I've never heard of it. your example was great however you made it too dramatic. an average student could finish the test within the standarized conditions if they practice under time conditions perior to their test, however it will be near impossible for a student with a learning disability to improve, because their brain just doesn't have the capacity to make such improvements, just like a physically disabled person who doesnt have specific physical capabilities.
I should clarify: in my example the challenge was not finishing the test, but acing it. 10 meters in a second is nearly impossible for all but the fastest humans; so is a 15 Verbal for all but a select few takers (if any in a given year). The test measures how close you can get; removing the time crunch completely changes what can be read out of the answer. And my comparison works, it's just extreme. People with learning disability like dyslexia or ADD can fully understand things, it just takes them much longer - they don't lack the ability to eventually get it.

Accommodation types vary but do include insanely extended time windows
 

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Sorry. I didn't mean to simplify it so much. Of course, it is a time commitment, and I'm aware there is testing. But again, it's all based on how much getting this eval matters to the individual.

I'm interested in what this means. The eval is perfectly doable, unless you're in the wrong office. I'm not sure, though, if AAMC needs something more (e.g. time with a psych who represents the AAMC for further evaluation?)
The eval is not about "doable" it is an eval, a grueling eval at that.

The evaluation is done without medication. Meaning, the scrambled, swirling, zoomie connecting butterflies to curtain rods in the span of a ns is in full swing. You know people with it ... their train of thoughts seem to instantly derail into the nano sphere of neutrino thinking and then back to Little House on the Prairie and you can't understand why.

The tests: Connect these dots in the right order, skipping a color in-between in less than 20 seconds... off medication (Concerta is mine). Then there's the picture which needs to be recreated with blocks in a time frame, the computerized "hit this button every time X shows up" and that gets quicker and slower and goes for 15 minutes. Those 15 mins to anyone with ADHD are excruciating. I got a headache.

For every wrong answer, there is a decrease in the score. What is it that singularly unites ALL premeds?!?! POINTS! We love points. And now, under the duress of being evaluated our points (that make us feel so good) are going away.

After 5 hours of that, the individual is given the standard personality test of 300 questions. Off medication. At hour 6, you are asked to then do another round of IQ tests and then at hour 8, you are done.

Now, okay so the individual has ADHD. Why accommodated? Concerta only takes away part of the issue; it speeds up the thinking so the split second for the brain to derail is shortened. However, that does not take away the distraction and even on Concerta, the snorting, sneezing, finger tapping, coughing, blowing, pencil clicking, paper cruching and you get it ... the Concerta can't stop the distractions.

So, I get a private or reduced noise room.

As a physician, I will also have a reduced noise room. I'll be in an exam room, where it's quiet, where I can focus on the patient and nothing else. At work, I get a private office. It's amazing how that "one" little thing has made a substantial difference in my life and had I known ... years ago ... I would not be on this forum as a premed, I'd be on this forum as a physician trying to help others.
 

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This is great news.
 
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efle

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A thought experiment/question: what in this realm separates poor or slow performance from lack of attention/focus and poor or slow performance from below-average intelligence? Both are hazily understood, unfair disadvantages that can often be remediated by giving lots of extra time, to "level the playing field" compared to people who can naturally stay more focused or comprehend and solve problems faster. If I can show with a long history of officially administered tests that I am disadvantaged with a below average intelligence, and I fail miserably on standard assessments unless given longer time than my peers, isn't it only fair to give me an accommodation too?

At the end of the day, the MCAT and tests like it aren't concerned with if you can eventually understand. Dumber people, like people with difficulty focusing, could eventually understand and do as well, or considerably better, than average. But that's because for the typical taker the test measures not if you can understand; it measures how much you understand in an uncomfortably brief time. Forget what's "fair" to test takers - there's plenty of unfairness towards the naturally slower that nobody opposes. There's just no argument that the test is valid in all the same ways once you change the core parameter of forcing people to rush through the test.

What's even stupider is that all accommodations receive the same mark. Unlike extended time situations, it really doesn't matter if you need noise-canceling headphones or a longer break between sections for medical reasons, as the test is not standardized to measure stuff like volume at individual test centers or needing a snack/insulin to maintain your blood sugar during non-testing time.
 
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A thought experiment/question: what in this realm separates poor or slow performance from lack of attention/focus and poor or slow performance from below-average intelligence? Both are hazily understood, unfair disadvantages that can often be remediated by giving lots of extra time, to "level the playing field" compared to people who can naturally stay more focused or comprehend and solve problems faster. If I can show with a long history of officially administered tests that I am disadvantaged with a below average intelligence, and I fail miserably on standard assessments unless given longer time than my peers, isn't it only fair to give me an accommodation too?

At the end of the day, the MCAT and tests like it aren't concerned with if you can eventually understand. Dumber people, like people with difficulty focusing, could eventually understand and do as well, or considerably better, than average. But that's because for the typical taker the test measures not if you can understand; it measures how much you understand in an uncomfortably brief time. Forget what's "fair" to test takers - there's plenty of unfairness towards the naturally slower that nobody opposes. There's just no argument that the test is valid in all the same ways once you change the core parameter of forcing people to rush through the test.

What's even stupider is that all accommodations receive the same mark. Unlike extended time situations, it really doesn't matter if you need noise-canceling headphones or a longer break between sections for medical reasons, as the test is not standardized to measure stuff like volume at individual test centers or needing a snack/insulin to maintain your blood sugar during non-testing time.
That's why you get evaluated and pay up to $2k from your pocket like the rest of students with disabilities to figure out why you've been doing poorly in your course work. The whole processes doesn't take up to 10 hours for nothing.
 

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IQ is also part of the evaluation. I got a 137. I'm not dumb. Off Concerta, I just like chasing fuzzy slippers while scuba diving off the planet Zutar in zumba mode while eating a banana wrapped in a sheet. ;)

At Efie, I also mentioned above, *I* do not care whether or not they ** my score. I'm fully capable of explaining that if asked, in fact, it's already in my PS.
 

efle

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In what way does this respond to my post? How disability is measured, by whom, how expensive, and how long are all irrelevant. The question is given that both types of disability can be established and counteracted in the same way, do you not recognize how ridiculous it is to talk about "fairness" or leveling of the playing field? Since if you want to argue fairness based on ability/disability, proof of low intelligence aught to merit extended time too.

That's why you get evaluated and pay up to $2k from your pocket like the rest of students with disabilities to figure out why you've been doing poorly in your course work. The whole processes doesn't take up to 10 hours for nothing.
IQ is also part of the evaluation. I got a 137. I'm not dumb. Off Concerta, I just like chasing fuzzy slippers while scuba diving off the planet Zutar in zumba mode while eating a banana wrapped in a sheet. ;)

At Efie, I also mentioned above, *I* do not care whether or not they ** my score. I'm fully capable of explaining that if asked, in fact, it's already in my PS.

Read what I wrote. I did not equate ADD to stupidity, only pointed out that they are both unfair speed hindrances counteracted by removing time pressure; the point is to make you consider if fairness is really what were after with the test.

I specifically mentioned your type of accomadation as something that by my reaaoning does not need to be **.
 
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Ad2b

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Read what I wrote. I did not equate ADD to stupidity
True, you did not but some do. When people hear "disability" the immediate thought for some is "lesser than" ... I used my own IQ score from the lengthy eval as a point to show that despite that I am given accommodations, I do have a decent IQ.

As an accommodated individual, I also believe it is 100% MY responsibility to be true to myself (and potential future patients) to be aware of my limitations and not overshoot those capabilities or lack thereof... surgery and ER are not in my future. ;)
 

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The eval is not about "doable" it is an eval, a grueling eval at that.

The evaluation is done without medication. Meaning, the scrambled, swirling, zoomie connecting butterflies to curtain rods in the span of a ns is in full swing. You know people with it ... their train of thoughts seem to instantly derail into the nano sphere of neutrino thinking and then back to Little House on the Prairie and you can't understand why.
Most people who "have it" (by this I mean they have been clinically diagnosed with ADHD) don't have it that severe, to the point of not being able to carry on a functional conversation or think about anything for >5 seconds. Such people probably wouldn't do well in the profession anyway (without some sort of major accomodations, which I doubt there is room for given competitiveness). We're talking about functional people, at least functional enough to be allowed to carry on in medicine, with all that entails (emphasis on the all that entails, which you or I currently don't fully understand).

The eval is not about "doable" it is an eval, a grueling eval at that.
The tests: Connect these dots in the right order, skipping a color in-between in less than 20 seconds... off medication (Concerta is mine). Then there's the picture which needs to be recreated with blocks in a time frame, the computerized "hit this button every time X shows up" and that gets quicker and slower and goes for 15 minutes. Those 15 mins to anyone with ADHD are excruciating. I got a headache.

For every wrong answer, there is a decrease in the score. What is it that singularly unites ALL premeds?!?! POINTS! We love points. And now, under the duress of being evaluated our points (that make us feel so good) are going away.

After 5 hours of that, the individual is given the standard personality test of 300 questions. Off medication. At hour 6, you are asked to then do another round of IQ tests and then at hour 8, you are done.
Interesting, but surprisingly less complicated than I thought. One day and you either get accommodations or don't. But you've also got to answer my question: who is administering the testing? A psych of your choice? A psych affiliated with the AAMC? Who?

The eval is not about "doable" it is an eval, a grueling eval at that.
Now, okay so the individual has ADHD. Why accommodated? Concerta only takes away part of the issue; it speeds up the thinking so the split second for the brain to derail is shortened. However, that does not take away the distraction and even on Concerta, the snorting, sneezing, finger tapping, coughing, blowing, pencil clicking, paper cruching and you get it ... the Concerta can't stop the distractions.
These things make me cringe to the core as well when I'm trying to concentrate. I've not been diagnosed with ADHD. Then again, I've never really tried to be.

The eval is not about "doable" it is an eval, a grueling eval at that.
So, I get a private or reduced noise room.
I wonder how many people need that who aren't getting it. Not trying to make a point or anything - I just would really like to know the number of students that believe they would sincerely benefit from having a separate, reduced noise room, and the number of psychs that would be willing to back them on that. I'd be willing to bet, however, that the number is quite high (all conjecture of course, just for purposes of the discussion). The AAMC could put out a survey on this right after the test asking, "Do you think you would have benefited from being in a private, noiseless room for this exam?" Everyone's exhausted, everyone's pissed off, everyone's at their limit for this thing. Often times, individuals with clinical diagnoses for mental illness are simply better self advocates. They know their needs, they know they live in a society that will (now) cater to those needs, and therefore they communicate those needs to the appropriate parties to get what they want. I say if the competition isn't willing to do something that straightforward ("Hey, I'm uncomfortable, I need help. Can I see a psych about this?"), then why shouldn't they be at a disadvantage? Mind you, I'm referring to people such as myself, who simply can't be bothered about it and tend to keep our mouths shut no matter how bad things might get - I suppose you could say it's how we've been trained, perhaps? For a lot of people, that's just a core personality trait, but it really only results in placing the individual in an inferior position with something like this. That's why I find it so interesting; a golden hand gets extended, and we don't want to leave our comfort zone to make ourselves comfortable. The irony is thick.

As a physician, I will also have a reduced noise room. I'll be in an exam room, where it's quiet, where I can focus on the patient and nothing else.
Depends on the specialty I suppose. Some clinicians are in some pretty loud environments, especially if they are in hospitals. Colleagues dictating/presenting, staff yelling back and forth, maybe some commotion in one or two of the rooms. It depends, I suppose, on both specialty and location - don't expect to get that dream until you are an actual attending with some leverage. But I do have to say, the OR is pretty damn quiet, other than the occasional wise cracks/fun stories/music playing in the background (attending's choice, usually, whether they want this). Of course, though, if you need it quiet, I've heard of surgeons who make it a point to tell everyone to be quiet - I don't think it's usually done with complete success, and it probably pisses off the people who prefer to chat to get through a massive 4+hr case, which would save the patient but cause everyone else to die of boredom in the mean time.