Following the 2012-2013 testing year, the AAMC did away with the writing sample portion of the MCAT. Since it’s been quite a while since premeds have needed to prepare for an MCAT writing sample, current students may be concerned as to whether the writing sample has snuck its way back into the lives of premeds everywhere, hidden between the passages of the CARS section. But alas, it hasn’t!
So there really is no MCAT Writing Sample?
There is no writing sample requirement on the new MCAT whatsoever. For anyone who may be unfamiliar with the writing sample, prior to the 2013 testing year, all test-takers were required to complete a fourth section of the MCAT, which was simply called—you guessed it—the Writing Sample. While being a good writer is definitely a necessary skill for medical students to have, the writing sample on the MCAT seemed to create quite a bit of uncertainty among students. Many students didn’t know if schools were even interested in the scores they received on this section and, as such, didn’t take it seriously. Furthermore, some test-takers felt that the writing sample section was more vulnerable to scoring inconsistencies. The writing sample was replaced with an optional trial section that tested out questions and topics for the 2015 MCAT, which is the current version of the exam.
Wonderful! One Less Thing to Worry About, Right?
Well, sort of. Even though the MCAT doesn’t test your writing, medical schools are still very interested in your ability to utilize the written word to relay ideas and concepts. So, even though the writing section was removed from the MCAT, an essay is still required as part of your medical school application. Both allopathic and osteopathic medical schools require this writing sample, better known as the personal statement. Your statement can be up to 5300 characters long for AMCAS and 4500 characters long for AACOMAS. Unlike the MCAT writing sample of ore, your personal statement is really an opportunity to shine. Your statement gives you a chance to let prospective medical schools know what sets you apart from the crowd and what fuels your passion for medicine in your own words. If you have any inconsistencies in your application (i.e. a below average MCAT score or low GPA) this is great opportunity to explain yourself and let med schools know that you’re up to the challenge.