“Really the trend we are seeing — which is honestly what we expected — is students trying to take the test before it changes,” said Sara Nicholson, North Carolina territory manager for Princeton Review.
“Even though the (Association of American Medical Colleges) has released information on the test, you don’t have the year’s worth of released tests. You don’t have as much of a sense of what is going to be on it. Any time the test is fundamentally changed, those are all question marks.”
Nicholson said she’s witnessed a surge in enrollment for prep courses leading up to the final offering of the current MCAT.
“We have more people prepping for these last couple test dates than we traditionally see,” Nicholson said. “Every student, without exception, is trying to take the test before it changes if at all possible.”
UNC senior Justin Hale, president of the Carolina Pre-Medical Association, thinks the changes to the new MCAT will ultimately be valuable, but that doesn’t mean he’d want to be among the first to take it.
“Playing the numbers — especially with preparatory courses knowing more about the old test — I would have stuck with the current test,” said Hale, who already took the MCAT using a Kaplan course to prepare.
“The common topic throughout the health advising world is what these changes are going to look like. No student has taken this test before.”
Eric Chiu, executive director of pre-medicine programs at Kaplan, said a full-length sample of the new test will be released this fall and will help Kaplan students prepare.
“MCAT prep should not be one size fits all,” Chiu said. “Students must triage their time and spend their time as efficiently as possible on the areas where they need the most help.”
Nicholson said the AAMC has been incorporating into its tests an experimental section that includes questions similar to those that will appear on the new test.
“We have our content developers taking those MCATs and paying particular attention to those experimental sections,” Nicholson said, explaining how Princeton Review builds prep courses for a test that has yet to be administered.
“Once the first batch or two of students go through it, once those scores are out in the public, then we’ll see students signing up,” she said.