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Should the MCAT be waived this year? Some doctors and students say ‘yes’

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Despite the global pandemic, the administration of the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is still required to be taken in person, leading a number of premedical students to take to social media to push for changes amongst medical schools.

In a letter to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the Students for Ethical Admissions (SEA) outline concerns and highlighted 3 short-term goals including:

  • Waiving the MCAT or making it optional,
  • Delaying the transmission of applications until August 1st,
  • Committing to change the way the AAMC and premedical students communicate in future admission cycles.

“While we recognize the AAMC was at no fault for the emergence of a novel coronavirus that spread in an unprecedented manner, this organization is  responsible for the generation of a cohort of physicians, health advocates, public health professionals,  physician-scientists, and many others who can help lead this country through future public health crises similar to the one we are currently experiencing,” they wrote in the letter. “Instead of providing adequate accommodations for the changes and dangers deeply affecting applicants’ lives, the AAMC elected to shorten the MCAT exam (resulting in less time per question), shorten the lunch break by twenty minutes (allowing only ten minutes to eat and/or use the restroom), and remove the tutorial period (which has historically been used by many to write formulas crucial for the exam).”

In its own open letter to those taking the MCAT, the AAMC expressed support and understanding of the many challenges facing medical schools and their applicants. 

“The AAMC and the nation’s medical schools understand that every potential applicant to medical school is experiencing challenges that no one could have anticipated. We are writing to acknowledge those challenges and express our commitment to supporting the needs of medical schools and the students applying to them,” they wrote. “First, it’s important to know that each medical school carefully determines its own admission requirements, including whether it will require MCAT scores. The MCAT exam is an important and validated predictor of success in medical school. As a result, even during this difficult year, most medical schools have indicated they will consider MCAT scores in the admission process.”