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New MCAT includes major sections on behavioral & social sciences

APA helps support video competition to develop materials for students preparing for exam.

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) will introduce a revised Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) in 2015 that includes major new sections on concepts from the behavioral and social sciences. To help students who aim to attend medical school prepare for the updated exam, the AAMC is working with other organizations to develop video-based educational materials. APA is providing support for a national competition for videos that can serve as the basis for these materials.

The new MCAT will have four sections:

  1. Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems

  2. Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems

  3. Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior

  4. Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

The third and fourth sections represent major additions to the MCAT. According to the AAMC, the third section tests “knowledge of important introductory psychology and sociology concepts, as well as the introductory biology concepts that relate to mental processes and behavior. The addition of this section to the exam recognizes the importance of socio-cultural and behavioral determinants of health and health outcomes.” Among the topics covered are perception, cognition, emotions, attitudes, behavior change, social behavior, self-identity, social structure and social inequality. 

The fourth section, on critical analysis and reasoning, asks students to “analyze, evaluate, and apply information provided by passages from a wide range of social sciences and humanities disciplines. It does not require specific knowledge of these disciplines, but it tests the analysis and reasoning skills you need for medical school, and may prompt you to read broadly as you prepare. Along with many others, passages about ethics and philosophy, cultural studies, and population health are included.” This section will include items on scientific and statistical reasoning. 

Video competition

The Khan Academy, in collaboration with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the AAMC, will support the development of video-based educational materials that review concepts related to specific sections of the MCAT.  

The three organizations aim to involve a broad range of participants in the development of these materials. To this end, they invite submissions to a competition for educational videos that address concepts in the MCAT. The videos should be no more than 10 minutes in length and be accompanied by problem questions. The competition is open to a wide range of educators and students. Winners of the competition will receive “an all-expenses paid 1-week trip (July 14-21) to get face-to-face training and support from Khan Academy to help us develop an open access, free resource for students.”

Details about the video competition, including guidance on what makes for a successful educational video, can be found on the Khan Academy’s MCAT video competition website. The deadline for submissions is June 14, 2013.

Participants in the competition can apply for scholarships to help purchase equipment and software. APA is funding scholarships for those who plan to submit videos related to the third section of the exam. More information about these scholarships can be found on the Khan Academy’s scholarship (PDF, 80KB) website.