"Aspiring medical students will soon say goodbye to the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT®) as they know it. The new test will have them putting down their pencils and sitting in front of a computer.
Through April 2006, a computer-based test will be available in more than a dozen sites in the United States and internationally. Implementation of the computerized version is scheduled to be complete by 2007, and the written version will be eliminated. Upcoming changes are designed to make the test more convenient.
With the computerized version, prospective students will take the test in smaller, climate-controlled rooms and receive their scores much more quickly, said Ellen Julian, Ph.D., AAMC's associate vice president and director of the MCAT examination.
"Our initial promise is to reduce score reporting time from 60 days to 30 days, with the ultimate goal of reducing the waiting time to two weeks," Dr. Julian said. "We hope this will facilitate the medical school application process for both examinees and admissions officers."
The biggest benefit for examinees, however, may be the revised length of the test. According to Dr. Julian, MCAT researchers have determined how to shorten the test while ensuring that it remains reliable, valid and useful. By waiting to implement the computer-based test until 2007, MCAT administrators can reduce test length at the same time. Timesaving measures inherent in converting a paper-and-pencil test to a computer version have already cut two hours off the test day, and with the planned reduction in test length, the test day should shrink to less than five hours. "