blz

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here are a few quotes from MCAT Staff to ease some of your anxiety:

MCAT Staff:

"The conversions don't vary a lot because we do a pretty good job of building the tests of approximately equal difficulty. Therefore, the PTs are a pretty good indicator of how the real test will be scored."

"Experimental passages/items do not impact your score at all.
One more myth I'd like to debunk: the scoring/scaling of the multiple-choice sections takes just as long as the scoring of the essays. Believe me, we get those scores out just as fast as we can. Sometimes we beat the 60 days by one or two days, but not often. It's tight."

"Sorry I haven't been more clear.
The percent correct is probably the better comparison. We had to adjust the conversion scales in the PTs to account for the addition of the extra items, and we basically used the percent corrects to do that. Don't spend too much energy on these conversions, though, because they do vary across forms. Just do your best - the scores will take care of themselves."

"Yes, that's exactly right. If you got a passage/item that seemed outrageously hard, it probably was experimental. (The actual number of experimental ones IS hush hush.) I hope that helps reduce some of the anxiety out there."

"Because every item/passage must be used as an experimental one before it can be used as a scored one, there are both passage-based and discrete experimental items. And, no, we don't ever tell you which were which. That would be equivalent to telling the world which ones will show up on a future test."

"60 days is what we promise. By my count, that puts it in mid-June. We can often get the online score reports up a little sooner, but we aren't willing to guarantee that."

"Yes, there are experimental items/passages in all three multiple-choice sections, but both of the WS prompts count towards your score."

"I'm glad to have a chance to answer questions. I get frustrated seeing all the misinformation that is being presented as fact on discussion boards. It's nice to have a place where I can help set the record straight. We really aren't out to make people's lives miserable, or to make a profit off of college students (remebember, it's aamc.ORG), but I can understand how it might seem that way. What else can I tell you that would help reduce the mystery?

Ellen Julian
Asst VP of AAMC
Director of MCAT"


She's over at e-mcat.com discussion board if anyone needs to ask her any questions.

Karma appreciated :D
 
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blz

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here's an update:

blz:

Hey MCAT staff,

From reading the posts here it seems as if every future MCAT is completely composed of prior experimental passages. If this is true, does this imply that the curve is predetermined? It makes sense since the average does not work out to an 8 8 8 always. If this is true, is the april test only composed of previous April experimentals or August ones as well?

Also, is it true that the curve in April is a little more lenient than the one in August?

MCAT Staff:

"It's not "predetermined" because we don't know ahead of time what the raw->scale score conversion table will be. The field testing (use as experimentals) of all items gives us enough information to make sure that the item is working as intended (not miskeyed, not of an extreme difficulty, and high scorers generally answer it right more often than low scorers). It is not enough to give us the precise difficulty estimate that would let us know ahead of time what the conversions will be.

Through the judicious reuse of items across years, we are able to compare every group's performance to that of the group who took the test in 1991, when the "new" MCAT began. For example, the increasing average BS scores across the years tells us that applicants today know more biology and organic than did those ten years ago. If items were not reused, you'd just be out of luck if you happened to get a hard form, or had some really smart people also take your form.

That's how we keep April and August on the same scale, too. By mixing of items from previous Aprils and Augusts, we can compare every exam with earlier exams from both time periods. Our goal is to make it where, if the same person, with the same level of knowledge, took both April and August (of any year), they would earn the same score both times.

For this reason, April is no easier than August. August scores do tend to be a little lower, partly because about 40% of the examinees are repeating because they were not satisfied with their April scores. This group does not (usually) include the high scorers, so their average is lower. August first-time takers also score a little lower on average. Is it because they are taking it early, before their Junior year? Is it because they weren't ready for April and delayed until August? We don't know for sure, but it's been consistent across the years.

I know this is more than you asked for, but I hope it is helpful. You've just taken your first class in psychometrics."



-blz
 

ASDIC

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i agree with cerberus...

"We really aren't out to make people's lives miserable, or to make a profit off of college students (remebember, it's aamc.ORG), but I can understand how it might seem that way."

its all lies!
 

liverotcod

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blz, this is really interesting stuff. Thanks for sharing.
 

blz

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willthatsall said:
If you had to guess why August first time takers do worse than April first time takers, what would you guess?

I'd guess it's because a lot of first time August takers are sophomores. I was in that boat last august and retook it in April. So hopefully my score will go up by trend alone.
 

Nuel

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blz, excellent post.

So we can confidently believe that the curve is determined with respect to the particular group of test-takers taking that same test, not on prior test takers.
Here is my own dialogue with Ellen. I think she is giving us too much info, she'll soon be banned :D


Nuel:

Wow, I never knew there was somebody directly answering questions on the MCAT.Well, can you oblige me too? I presume so . . .

. . . So regardless of form scales and experimental passage exclusion, does a 45/60 on VR "nearly" invariably convert to 10 and 59/77 on the science portions convert to 10-11? Or does this strictly depend on the test form? I am just curious.

MCAT staff:

Depends on the form.

blz has probably posted every other thing.
 

SensesFail

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Hmm... I wasn't aware that August 1st-time test-takers score lower on average. I just finished sophomore year and I'm planning on taking the beast for the first (and hopefully last!) time in August. That info from the MCAT staff doesn't sound very encouraging though... :( But I HAVE done well in my advanced classes like Cell Bio, Biochemistry, Neuroscience, and Orgo.
Hmm... maybe I'll take another diagnostic to see where I stand now. :idea:
 

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SensesFail said:
Hmm... I wasn't aware that August 1st-time test-takers score lower on average. I just finished sophomore year and I'm planning on taking the beast for the first (and hopefully last!) time in August. That info from the MCAT staff doesn't sound very encouraging though... :( But I HAVE done well in my advanced classes like Cell Bio, Biochemistry, Neuroscience, and Orgo.
Hmm... maybe I'll take another diagnostic to see where I stand now. :idea:
It is just a general issue. IF you will do well, you will do well. Just study hard and prepare for a hard test.
 

TripleDegree

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blz said:
here are a few quotes from MCAT Staff to ease some of your anxiety:

MCAT Staff:

"The conversions don't vary a lot because we do a pretty good job of building the tests of approximately equal difficulty. Therefore, the PTs are a pretty good indicator of how the real test will be scored."

:D
PTs are a good indicator of how this recent MCAT was scored??? I think we all agree that this April's test was a bear, and much *much* more difficult than any of the PTs.

Lies! :)
 

0T6

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I'm a sophomore and I just wrote in April.. can't wait to see where I fall in this whole statistical maze :D
 

blz

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0T6 said:
I'm a sophomore and I just wrote in April.. can't wait to see where I fall in this whole statistical maze :D

you're nuts dude...why not just take it in august?
 

0T6

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blz said:
you're nuts dude...why not just take it in august?
Well I'll be applying in October and scores usually come back like 2 days before apps are due here in Ontario, so I didn't want to be forced to write out full applications only to decide where I'd apply at that point. Also, I'm taking orgo, genetics, molecular & cell bio, and a "health and disease" course at the moment so I was learning all of the BS anyway and PS is my strong suit. And I wasn't sure whether I'd be able to get studying done over the summer with a couple of research jobs I'm doing. LOL so I'll either be ahead of the game come June or right back in the pack, we'll see :)
 

txguy

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0T6 said:
Well I'll be applying in October and scores usually come back like 2 days before apps are due here in Ontario, so I didn't want to be forced to write out full applications only to decide where I'd apply at that point. Also, I'm taking orgo, genetics, molecular & cell bio, and a "health and disease" course at the moment so I was learning all of the BS anyway and PS is my strong suit. And I wasn't sure whether I'd be able to get studying done over the summer with a couple of research jobs I'm doing. LOL so I'll either be ahead of the game come June or right back in the pack, we'll see :)
Quit boasting. Nobody cares. J/k. :thumbup:
 

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blz:

if I had a life savings of karma, I would hand it all to you in a big duffle bag. You da' man!
 
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