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New vs. Old MCAT, Non-trad style

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by hopefulfuturedoc, 05.19.14.

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  1. hopefulfuturedoc

    hopefulfuturedoc

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    I know this has been talked about to death, but the MCAT is worth something slightly different to many of us non-trads. For those of us with a low GPA who are counting on the MCAT for our application, would it be wiser to take the old or new MCAT? Slightly different perspective than those debating the merits of taking each exam in the context of an all-around, strong application.

    Although I won't have had the second semester of Orgo if I try for the Jan 2015 test date (the last old test), I'm considering quitting my job to focus on MCAT preparation to avoid taking the new exam. This would primarily be because I have some questionable old grades on my transcripts and I am going to need a strong MCAT showing, and I'm worried that adcoms might unintentionally be biased against the new scores, simply because they're more difficult to interpret than the old ones. Not as much is at stake for those who have a strong application across the board.

    So, although I understand the most they can admit to is "it will take some adjusting," would an adcom prefer to see old or new MCAT?
     
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  3. QuentinT88

    QuentinT88 2+ Year Member

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    That seems to be a question that most adcoms still don't know the answer to. @Goro can you provide some input?
     
  4. DrMidlife

    DrMidlife has an opinion 10+ Year Member

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    I think all the panic and bewilderment over the 2015 MCAT are COMPLETELY OVERBLOWN. Quitting your job and rushing your premed schedule to beat the calendar would be pure hysteria.

    Do you know who has been working their fannies off for a couple of years now to be ready for the 2015 MCAT, other than AAMC? The prep companies. Kaplan/TPR/etc are absolutely protecting their revenue streams and score guarantees and will not give away one inch of market share to somebody who does a better job of preparing for the change. There are 80,000 exams taken (including multiples) per year, and about 50,000 med school applicants, and these numbers aren't going to go down because the MCAT changes. At most a good 2015 MCAT plan will avoid the exam dates in the first few months while the bugs are worked out.

    If your undergrad record is poor in the humanities as well as the sciences, then yes, you have a problem, whether you take the old or the new version. For the sake of your sanity, you could assume the verbal section is getting 2x longer in 2015, and plan accordingly by budgeting time/money/energy for review and practice of non-science topics.

    So two things.

    No, you shouldn't try to take the MCAT before you're done with the prereqs. If you have GPA damage, you're not in the demographic that can cut corners on taking the test before completing prereqs, regardless. Re-assess whether you have a realistic MCAT prep strategy: are you budgeting enough money/time/energy to do well, given all your own personal details?

    And please, please don't plan on getting a great MCAT score and getting your GPA foibles forgiven. Particularly if you're in California or another ridiculously competitive state. Particularly if your GPAs are, say, more than one standard deviation below the 3.6 average. Look hard at your GPA damage and be honest: do you need to acquire more A's before you have a chance at an acceptance?

    tl;dr: don't freak out about the new MCAT. Leave that to the kiddoes in pre-allo.

    Best of luck to you.
     
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  5. gonnif

    gonnif Only 1425 Days Until Next Presidential Election Lifetime Donor 7+ Year Member

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    Rule 1: Take a breath

    Dr. MidLife is on the mark here. From a look at the competencies outline that AAMC has on line, is is essentially the same. Perhaps more biochem, most of which is covered in a variety of bio courses and/or a direct course. From a testing style, how passages are written, how questions are designed, it is the same. VR is different only in what the passages content.

    I think this is prepping from existing material in terms of content is 90% plus the same. At least.
     
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  6. Goro

    Goro 5+ Year Member

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    My gut tells me you're being too anxious about the new test. Don not take any career-defining, high stakes exam until you're fully ready to. Surely there have to be some practice questions for the new exam?


    For those of us with a low GPA who are counting on the MCAT for our application, would it be wiser to take the old or new MCAT? Slightly different perspective than those debating the merits of taking each exam in the context of an all-around, strong application.

    Although I won't have had the second semester of Orgo if I try for the Jan 2015 test date (the last old test), I'm considering quitting my job to focus on MCAT preparation to avoid taking the new exam.



    If you're planning on applying to MD schools, a high MCAT will not counteract a poor GPA. there are some DO schools that will favor one over the other.

    This would primarily be because I have some questionable old grades on my transcripts and I am going to need a strong MCAT showing, and

    Even if I can't figure out the new scoring system, seeing your performance compared to everyone else is still interpretable. If you're in the 90% ile, you're in good shape. 50th %ile, not so good.

    I'm worried that adcoms might unintentionally be biased against the new scores, simply because they're more difficult to interpret than the old ones. Not as much is at stake for those who have a strong application across the board.

    So, although I understand the most they can admit to is "it will take some adjusting," would an adcom prefer to see old or new MCAT?
     
  7. hopefulfuturedoc

    hopefulfuturedoc

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    Thanks for the perspective here. The GPA troubles aren't due to inability as much as a series of Fs from 10 years ago when I decided I was too kool for skool, so I'm honestly not concerned that the low GPA foreshadows trouble with the MCAT (I know it's a bear of a test and I anticipate that, but I'm not a weak student at all). I'm not planning on using the MCAT to counteract it; I know it can't be done (plus my DO GPA is in good shape already). But I am also aware that I do need a solid MCAT, and I was just worried that it would be impossible to consider *any* score on the new MCAT "solid" until after the adjustment period.

    And yes, DrMidlife, I did have this crisis of confidence today after listening to some undergrads tell me about how all of my chances at med school and thus at life would be ruined if I even contemplated taking the new MCAT :) So I'm grateful for your sensible advice.

    Goro, thanks for your adcom perspective. I've actually been confused about what exactly you see when you see an MCAT score. It sounds like you see percentiles in addition to the number?

    ETA: Just so I don't look quite as hysteric as the pre-meds I referenced, the job is likely on its way out anyway and I know several other post-baccs who are taking the MCAT before Orgo 2 and Physics 2, which is why I was starting to doubt myself.
     
    Last edited: 05.19.14

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