If you’ve ever dreamed about getting into medical school, this is the stuff of your nightmares: last year, around 44,000 people applied for about 19,000 spots. Medical school admissions committees look at many different factors when evaluating prospective students, but everyone knows that test scores matter quite a bit — namely the scores on the Medical College Admission Test, more commonly known as the MCAT. So when the Association of American Medical Colleges recently announced that they were revamping the test for the first time in 22 years, biology majors worldwide started anxiously nibbling on their number-two pencils.
The MCAT will continue to test students’ knowledge of basic science. But because “the public had great confidence in doctors’ knowledge but much less in their bedside manner,” according to AAMC president Darrell Kirch. So the new test, which will go into effect in 2015, will add sections on social and behavioral sciences, and critical analysis and reading. (It’s also getting rid of its writing requirement.) “The goal is to improve the medical admissions process to find the people who you and I would want as our doctors. Being a good doctor isn’t just about understanding science, it’s about understanding people,” Kirch said.