Aug 29, 2016
Attending Physician
1) I have reason for profound concern about the AAMC MCAT exam oversight. I started my teaching career as a Clinical Fellow over 3 decades ago at Harvard Medical School. I now am privileged to serve as an Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at a renowned private medical school and an Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine in the UC system. I teach cardiology in both the Biomed and premed students programs. I also give Cardiology lectures to first and second year medical students. I have been quite surprised to learn that our premed students are increasingly apprehensive by the very real prospect of an MCAT exam computer failure and consequent rejection for medical school admission.

2) To protect student identities I must be purposely oblique and obtuse.

3) On August 25 of this year I was informed that all the students taking the MCAT exams at a site under AAMC and Prometric auspices in California were suddenly and inexplicably kicked out of the MCAT exam computer program by a computer crash about 10 minutes into the biology/ biochemistry portion of their exams. All of the students were relegated to the lobby while the proctors vainly attempted to contact Prometric in an attempt to resolve the shut down. The proctors and their IT persons stated that since all of Prometrics phone lines where busy, they assumed that this was not their local exam center failure but much more widespread. After about 30 minutes the proctors were informed by a recorded message from Prometric to reset the computers and log the very shaken and dismayed students back in. The students were even more upset to note that the timers had not been reset by Prometric or the AAMC and that they had simply—and very unfairly—lost valuable exam time. It should be appreciated that the loss of even a few points on the MCAT exams has exponential effects on score percentiles.

4) We were astounded by the AAMC’s crass and cavalier approach when notified about the student’s treatment. We were even more thunderstruck when the medical school deans we contacted confirmed that this was a frequent and chronic problem and that the AAMC often failed to address its dismal MCAT exam performance and “do the right thing by and for the affected students” —many of whom had spent thousands of dollars arranging exam logistics and preparing for the MCAT exams.

5) Stunned, we researched the internet for information on MCAT computer failures and were appalled to note that MCAT computer errors had adversely affected hundreds and possibly thousands of Premed students over multiple sessions as recorded by anxious student reports. Anguished student complaints were noted from MCAT exams administered in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016. I was even more appalled to note that staff members from the AAMC refused to place alleviating disclaimers on the affected student’s grades. In effect, the AAMC was glibly playing Russian Roulette with admission-worthy premed student’s lives.

6) Given the very frequent MCAT testing failures we cannot imagine why they have not taken the obvious step of granting immediate pencil and paper MCAT exam access in the event of MCAT exam computer crashes.

7) This recent unfortunate batch of premed students received a barely literate email from a certain Prasanand Kanagaras at Prometric stating that “We regret for the inconvenience experience you have had at the test center!” We look forward to serving you in the future… They then absolved their failures by suggesting the students contact the AAMC to possibly arrange further MCAT testing! We have yet to discern if this apparently dubious Prometric testing service is stateside-based or internationally outsourced.

8) The lack of empathy afforded these aggrieved students by both Prometric and the AAMC is rendered totally egregious by the AAMC’s self-allowed month’s respite before they address and rectify the problems provoked by their own resolute negligence.

9) Our premed students often face very tight academic time and fiscal constraints. MCAT computer crashes place students in a logistical quagmire and in an invidious no-win position. If they complain or seek legal redress, they fear that they will face professional career-ending—or at best—jeopardizing, whistle-blower retaliation from AAMC and Prometrics. AAMC failures often place them in a nightmare-like academic limbo. They know that having to delay pending medical school applications by repeating the MCAT exams raises academic red flags. What are our unfortunate students to do in the meantime? Should they place their academic futures on hold and resolutely keep studying for another needless MCAT exam? Should they scurry about planning further expensive trips to other states for repeat MCAT exams when their scores were adversely affected by flagrant AAMC and Prometric MCAT testing errors? Or given the untenable frequency with which AAMC testing computers crash, should they rather just remain mute, sign up and await the next possibly flawed MCAT testing fiasco.

10) As you must know, the AAMC has publically been taken to task on the Fair Test and the Student Doctor websites because of their dismal MCAT testing performance! They obviously have done nothing to improve their God-awful testing system.

11) This perpetual and atrocious AAMC performance needs to be reported in the national press so that Medical Schools and their prospective medical student MCAT exam takers know the extraordinary risks they face, attendant negligent and sorely-lacking MCAT exam governance.

12) Medical school faculties also need to be contacted by responsible, senior members of AAMC staff to explain—on the record and for urgent publication—as to why these catastrophic computer failures keep occurring under AAMC’s watch, and what remedies they immediately hope to implement. Failure to rectify these very apparent failings will inevitably lead to future MCAT exam computer failures and considered costly class-action legal activity.

13) Continued abysmal MCAT testing debacles will also certainly mean that premed students and medical schools may be forced to abandon AAMC -facilitated MCAT testing. We certainly look forward to hearing from the AAMC in the very near future
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5+ Year Member
Dec 10, 2013
It's unacceptable that this happens when you consider the amount of money the AAMC makes off this one test. Prep material + testing costs.

Ridiculous. And corrupt.

Not to mention an additional stressor for students when test taking. I don't want this to happen to me
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2+ Year Member
Feb 9, 2016
Thank you so much for your concerns! We (premeds) study really hard for such an exam and then end up getting even more stressed when we sit down for the exam and computers crash!!!!! This happened on the 25th in NY as well and yes they claim we dont lose time but we do and we have to force ourselves to complete the exam because we are only allowed to take it 3 times/year.
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