When changes to the MCAT were announced in 2012, many pre-medical students began to ask: is the new MCAT harder? This was a great question for students who had the option of taking either exam. The answer is that it depends on the student. In this post, we will explain why the current (“new”) MCAT is harder for some students but easier for others. Before you read this though, you should first read our previous post New MCAT vs. Old MCAT to learn about the differences between the two tests.
How the Current MCAT Can be Easier
- New Content: The Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior section is the first in the history of the MCAT to test psychology and sociology concepts. Pre-medical students that majored in psychology and sociology will find this section easier than other students. In addition, the current MCAT increased its emphasis on biochemistry. Students with a stronger biochemistry background will similarly find the current MCAT to be easier.
- More Time Per Question: Students now have more time to answer each question on the current MCAT. Slower test takers can rejoice knowing that they will not feel as much time pressure on the current exam.
- Passage Style: As the passages on the current MCAT are now all biological relevant, they will be easier for students to understand and relate to. In addition, many of the current passages on the MCAT are adapted from scientific journal articles. Students are expected to be able to understand experimental design, analyze data, and make conclusions about the experimental study. Students with a strong research background will be at an advantage on the current MCAT.
How the Current MCAT Can be Harder
- New Content: The introduction of psychology, sociology, and biochemistry is not good news for everyone. Students that don’t have this background will of course find the current MCAT to be harder.
- Test Length: The current MCAT is nearly twice as long as the old MCAT. Most students are not used to taking a seven-hour long test and will struggle to maintain focus throughout the entire exam.
- Passage Style: Students without as much research experience will find it challenging to understand the passages heavy on research.
- Question Presentation: On the old MCAT, students could see all the questions associated with a passage on the same page. Students could scan the questions before reading the passage to know what parts of the passage to focus on. As the current MCAT only presents one question per page, it is tougher for students to use this approach.
Is the Current MCAT harder?
Hopefully, you understand now why this depends on the student. For most students, the current exam will likely be easier in some aspects but harder in others. There is no doubt, though, that pre-medical students will have to work hard to prepare for the new MCAT just as previous students did for the old MCAT. If you are finding it difficult to study for this test, we recommend that you read about how to make yourself study for the MCAT and how to avoid getting bored while studying for the MCAT.