I recently got my hands on several amazing old documents dating back to 1941 about the MCAT. The oldest document chronicled the start of testing medical students to predict if they could complete a rigorous medical curriculum. So, the original test was NOT taken by pre-medical students! BUMMER!
Originally named the Scholastic Aptitude Test for Medical Students, the idea of testing came about when the med school dropout rate soared from 5% to 50% in the 1920s. The thought was that too many people who could not complete medical school were being admitted. This was seen as a disservice to public health and to the individuals who were rejected from medical school who would have otherwise successfully graduated.
After many studies, a committee concluded that the best predictor for completing medical school is a combination of the test and pre-medical grades! They even recommended considering personality factors for admission! What criteria were they using before??
From 1946-1948, the test was called the Professional School Aptitude Test. It then was renamed the Medical College Admission Test and was on paper until January 2007 when it became electronic. Yes! I took it on paper!
Funny enough, the notion of including culture was ultimately rejected because people’s individual experiences were considered too diverse to test and it was felt that including cultural questions would just serve to increase the number of students taking cultural courses.
That notion has changed drastically, since MCAT 2015 will test the fundamentals of human behavior starting April 17. Let’s face it, human behavior is culture top-heavy!
While the MCAT is very important, the point is to recognize that even in the 1940s, the MCAT was not the sole determining factor of acceptance into medical school. So be strategic, study hard, and stand out!
Leave your questions about the MCAT in the comments!