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Silver Lining on August MCAT...

Discussion in 'MCAT Discussions' started by chandler742, Jun 14, 2002.

  1. chandler742

    chandler742 Senior Member

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    I read some journal articles referenced from the amcas website concerning the MCAT. Two findings seemed very interesting to me.

    1. Students that take the August MCAT seem to
    get less questions right per se to get a
    higher scaled score. This fact is attributed
    to the BEST students electing not to
    retake the exam in august and retake students
    scores remaining essentially the same
    on subsequent tests. Of course the
    assumption is that the silver lining would
    hold most water for the first time
    test taker. Also, The belief that students
    score higher in the summer because they
    have more time is a fallacy. Fact is that
    Competition(bell curve) is less cut throat
    for the summer MCAT.

    2. Verbal section on the MCAT seems to have the
    most weight of all the sections since it is
    the most postively correlated to actual
    clinical skills mastery. One can argue that
    the biological section should be the most
    important, however, the exam is for entering
    the medical field, not one for a PHD in
    genetics or physiology.

    The old adage, "the art of medicine" rather than medicine being an exact science holds true.
     
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  3. Premed2003

    Premed2003 Senior Member

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    How does verbal have anything to do with clinical skills mastery? This seems like clinical studies where they find that eating tomatoes 3 times per week prevents cancer, but eating them 4 or more times per week is detrimental....there might be a correlation because of the way the statistics work, but it has absolutely no relevance.
     
  4. Mudd

    Mudd Charlatan & Trouble Maker

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    Interesting... thanks for the reference. I just looked at <a href="http://www.aamc.org/students/mcat/research/bibliography/start.htm" target="_blank">the aamc studies</a> to find the studies you mentioned.

    I assume your second reference is to the 1994 study by J.M. Scott and R.J. Markert. Considering they published in 1994, the data is probably from 1993. Anyone past their second year of medical school in 1993, took the MCAT before April 1991, when they switched to the current style MCAT. That is why they are correlating to "analytical reading skills" and not to verbal reasoning skills in their study. Also, the old MCAT had a "quantitative analysis" section which they also mention in the conclusion (0.41 correlation I think). It is a shame they do not mention anything about a correlation to the science and problem solving sections.

    I think a study like this based on the current MCAT would be nice. I have looked for some time to see a correlation study, but unfortunately they are all based on the old MCAT... which was abandoned for some reason. I guess it's back to trusting the admissions data to determine which section is most important. Thanks for the ray of hope though.
     
  5. true1

    true1 Junior Member

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    Verbal is weighted most because 90% of people who get a 12 or better pass the boards their first time. Schools obviously like this.
     
  6. Mudd

    Mudd Charlatan & Trouble Maker

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    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by true1:
    Verbal is weighted most because 90% of people who get a 12 or better pass the boards their first time. Schools obviously like this.</font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Don't most people (about 90%) pass their boards on their first try?

    Also, where does this statistic come from? I would love to get at least one site reference for the claim that verbal is most important. The which section is most important? question is always being asked, and the only tangible statistics (with a reference and not hearsay), are the AAMC and AMCAS data for acceptances and matriculants to medical school. The average BS score has been higher than the average VR score by just under a point for the last ten years. If verbal reasoning truly was the most important, wouldn't medical schools make it the highest average? Assuming the mean is roughly the same (about 8) for the three sections, then it is reasonable to conclude that the section with the highest average amongst people admitted to medical school is the most important.
     
  7. Doctor Pepper

    Doctor Pepper Member

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    Hmmm... This is an interesting point.. I emailed the aamc a while back and asked exactly how they come to the particularly score.. They said that they use high-yield statistical equating to curve students against all applicants that have taken a particular form of the test from 1993 through the present administration of the test.. Basically, this assumes that one will be curved against those that take the test in August and then curved again students in previous administration of the test.. This is done to minimize the effect of any particular pool of people taking the test at one time... E-mail the aamc for info on scoring and they will give you a similiar generic reply..

    DP
     
  8. Mudd

    Mudd Charlatan & Trouble Maker

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    Thanks for the reference Chandler, I greatly appreciate that. That is the closest I have seen to an endorsement of the Verbal Reasoning section being most important.

    However, I again has the same issue. To quote their study:

    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">METHOD: The sample consisted of 6,239 matriculants who entered Jefferson Medical College during the 30 years between 1968 and 1997, inclusive.</font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Given that matriculants from 1968 to 1992 took the MCAT prior to the change to the new format, it can be assumed that roughly 83.3% of the data pool took the old style MCAT, which was comrpised of reading comprehension and science memory.

    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">CONCLUSION: As expected from many earlier studies, MCAT scores were consistently more valuable than were undergraduate GPAs as predictors of performance on licensing examinations, supporting their continued use in selection decisions. These relationships are stable across three decades and apply to the three examinations. Verbal scores tended to be better indicators of performances in the clinical and postgraduate tests.</font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">You are absolutely correct about their conclusion. Still, I have to ask for some explanation why matriculant scores every year since the inception of the current style MCAT have been higher in BS than VR. It could be the curve, but the means are all approximately 8.0.

    I doubt this will be resolved, but it sure would be nice if AAMC did a study on that.
     
  9. I'm interning at a Ed. Psych lab and actually had to read the referenced article from Academic Medicine. Two things:

    1) The data breaks down ones performance on the MCAT into two categories: Verbal and Science and then compares your performance on these two categories with your scores on the USMLE Parts I,II,III. The results are as follows:
    Part I: Science has greater predictive validity
    Part II: Science and Verbal are of approximately the same validity.
    Part III: Verbal has greater validity (by the same margin that science enjoyed on Part I examination)

    A serious methodological flaw with this study, and one brought up by others, is the fact that the data is gathered from individuals who've taken both versions (pre and post 1991) of the MCAT. Although, it does make comparisons between the old version of the USMLE (the NMBLE) and the new version, it fails to take into account the alterations in MCAT style. And I would argue that one of the major alterations of the MCAT has been the change in the style of the Biological Sciences section from one emphasizing rote memorization to one emphasizing critical thinking. After reviewing the types of questions on the USMLE (all parts), it seems that the format most closely approximates the updated version of the BS portion of the MCAT.

    Finally, I think it is impossible, at this juncture, to ascertain which, if any, of the MCAT subsections plays a greater role in admission. In all likelihood, the admissions committee takes the MCAT (barring gross asymmetry in scores) as an aggregate and as a small portion of a greater picture that includes innumerable other, unquantified, variables. Hopefully, this clears things up. Good luck to everyone in the coming months!
     

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