Marvin's Underground Lectures
Login / Register

Research Articles

  • MCAT Research Articles

    • Permalink for 'An Overview of the Medical School Admission Process and Use of Applicant Data in Decision Making:  What Has Changed Since the 1980s?'

      An Overview of the Medical School Admission Process and Use of Applicant Data in Decision Making: What Has Changed Since the 1980s?

      Posted: April 26th, 2013, 12:47pm CDT
      imagePurpose: To investigate current medical school admission processes and whether they differ from those in 1986 when they were last reviewed by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Method: In spring 2008, admission deans from all MD-granting U.S. and Canadian medical schools using the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) were invited to complete an online survey that asked participants to describe their institution’s admission process and to report the use and rate the importance of applicant data in making decisions at each stage. Results: The 120 responding admission officers reported using a variety of data to make decisions. Most indicated using interviews to assess applicants’ personal characteristics. Compared with 1986, there was an increase in the emphasis placed on academic data during pre-interview screening. While GPA data were among the most important data in decision making at all stages in 1986, data use and importance varied by the stage of the process in 2008: MCAT scores and undergraduate GPAs were rated as the most important data for deciding whom to invite to submit secondary applications and interview, whereas interview recommendations and letters of recommendation were rated as the most important data in deciding whom to accept. Conclusions: This study underscores the complexity of the medical school admission process and suggests increased use of a holistic approach that considers the whole applicant when making admission decisions. Findings will inform AAMC initiatives focused on transforming admission processes.
    • Permalink for 'The Predictive Validity of the MCAT Exam in Relation to Academic Performance Through Medical School:  A National Cohort Study of 2001–2004 Matriculants'

      The Predictive Validity of the MCAT Exam in Relation to Academic Performance Through Medical School: A National Cohort Study of 2001–2004 Matriculants

      Posted: April 26th, 2013, 12:46pm CDT
      imagePurpose: Most research examining the predictive validity of the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) has focused on the relationship between MCAT scores and scores on the United States Medical Licensing Examination Step exams. This study examined whether MCAT scores predict students’ unimpeded progress toward graduation (UP), which the authors defined as not withdrawing or being dismissed for academic reasons, graduating within five years of matriculation, and passing the Step 1, Step 2 Clinical Knowledge, and Step 2 Clinical Skills exams on the first attempt. Method: Students who matriculated during 2001–2004 at 119 U.S. medical schools were included in the analyses. Logistic regression analyses were used to estimate the relationships between UP and MCAT total scores alone, undergraduate grade point averages (UGPAs) alone, and UGPAs and MCAT total scores together. All analyses were conducted at the school level and were considered together to evaluate relationships across schools. Results: The majority of matriculants experienced UP. Together, UGPAs and MCAT total scores predicted UP well. MCAT total scores alone were a better predictor than UGPAs alone. Relationships were similar across schools; however, there was more variability across schools in the relationship between UP and UGPAs than between UP and MCAT total scores. Conclusions: The combination of UGPAs and MCAT total scores performs well as a predictor of UP. Both UGPAs and MCAT total scores are strong predictors of academic performance in medical school through graduation, not just the first two years. Further, these relationships generalize across medical schools.
    • Permalink for 'Core Personal Competencies Important to Entering Students’ Success in Medical School:  What Are They and How Could They Be Assessed Early in the Admission Process?'

      Core Personal Competencies Important to Entering Students’ Success in Medical School: What Are They and How Could They Be Assessed Early in the Admission Process?

      Posted: April 26th, 2013, 12:45pm CDT
      imageAssessing applicants’ personal competencies in the admission process has proven difficult because there is not an agreed-on set of personal competencies for entering medical students. In addition, there are questions about the measurement properties and costs of currently available assessment tools. The Association of American Medical College’s Innovation Lab Working Group (ILWG) and Admissions Initiative therefore engaged in a multistep, multiyear process to identify personal competencies important to entering students’ success in medical school as well as ways to measure them early in the admission process. To identify core personal competencies, they conducted literature reviews, surveyed U.S and Canadian medical school admission officers, and solicited input from the admission community. To identify tools with the potential to provide data in time for pre-interview screening, they reviewed the higher education and employment literature and evaluated tools’ psychometric properties, group differences, risk of coaching/faking, likely applicant and admission officer reactions, costs, and scalability. This process resulted in a list of nine core personal competencies rated by stakeholders as very or extremely important for entering medical students: ethical responsibility to self and others; reliability and dependability; service orientation; social skills; capacity for improvement; resilience and adaptability; cultural competence; oral communication; and teamwork. The ILWG’s research suggests that some tools hold promise for assessing personal competencies, but the authors caution that none are perfect for all situations. They recommend that multiple tools be used to evaluate information about applicants’ personal competencies in deciding whom to interview.
    • Permalink for 'Do Racial and Ethnic Group Differences in Performance on the MCAT Exam Reflect Test Bias?'

      Do Racial and Ethnic Group Differences in Performance on the MCAT Exam Reflect Test Bias?

      Posted: April 26th, 2013, 12:45pm CDT
      imageThe Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a standardized examination that assesses fundamental knowledge of scientific concepts, critical reasoning ability, and written communication skills. Medical school admission officers use MCAT scores, along with other measures of academic preparation and personal attributes, to select the applicants they consider the most likely to succeed in medical school. In 2008–2011, the committee charged with conducting a comprehensive review of the MCAT exam examined four issues: (1) whether racial and ethnic groups differ in mean MCAT scores, (2) whether any score differences are due to test bias, (3) how group differences may be explained, and (4) whether the MCAT exam is a barrier to medical school admission for black or Latino applicants. This analysis showed that black and Latino examinees’ mean MCAT scores are lower than white examinees’, mirroring differences on other standardized admission tests and in the average undergraduate grades of medical school applicants. However, there was no evidence that the MCAT exam is biased against black and Latino applicants as determined by their subsequent performance on selected medical school performance indicators. Among other factors which could contribute to mean differences in MCAT performance, whites, blacks, and Latinos interested in medicine differ with respect to parents’ education and income. Admission data indicate that admission committees accept majority and minority applicants at similar rates, which suggests that medical students are selected on the basis of a combination of attributes and competencies rather than on MCAT scores alone.
    • Permalink for 'Tolerance for Ambiguity:  An Ethics-Based Criterion for Medical Student Selection'

      Tolerance for Ambiguity: An Ethics-Based Criterion for Medical Student Selection

      Posted: April 26th, 2013, 12:44pm CDT
      imagePlanned changes to the MCAT exam and the premedical course requirements are intended to enable the assessment of humanistic characteristics and, thus, to select students who are more likely to become physicians who can communicate and relate with patients and engage in ethical decision making. Identifying students who possess humanistic and communication skills is an important goal, but the changes being implemented may not be sufficient to evaluate key personality traits that characterize well-rounded, thoughtful, empathic, and respectful physicians. The author argues that consideration should be given to assessing prospective students’ tolerance for ambiguity as part of the admission process. Several strategies are proposed for implementing and evaluating such an assessment. Also included in this paper is an overview of the conceptual and empirical literature on tolerance for ambiguity among physicians and medical students, its impact on patient care, and the attention it is given in medical education. This evidence suggests that if medical schools admitted students who possess a high tolerance for ambiguity, quality of care in ambiguous conditions might improve, imbalances in physician supply and practice patterns might be reduced, the humility necessary for moral character formation might be enhanced, and the increasing ambiguity in medical practice might be better acknowledged and accepted.
    • Permalink for 'Should the MCAT Exam Be Used for Medical School Admissions in Canada?'

      Should the MCAT Exam Be Used for Medical School Admissions in Canada?

      Posted: April 26th, 2013, 12:44pm CDT
      imageIn light of the structural and content changes to the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) to be implemented in 2015 and the recent diversity- and social-accountability-based recommendations of the Future of Medical Education in Canada (FMEC) project, the authors review and reexamine the use of the MCAT exam in Canadian medical school admissions decisions. This Perspective article uses a point–counterpoint format to discuss three main advantages and disadvantages of using the MCAT exam in the medical school admissions process, from a Canadian perspective. The authors examine three questions regarding the FMEC recommendations and the revised MCAT exam: (1) Is the MCAT exam equal and useful in Canadian admissions? (2) Does the MCAT exam affect matriculant diversity? and (3) Is the MCAT exam a strong predictor of future performance? They present the most recent arguments and evidence for and against use of the MCAT exam, with the purpose of summarizing these different perspectives for readers.
    • Permalink for 'Reflections on the Role of a Writing Test for Medical School Admissions'

      Reflections on the Role of a Writing Test for Medical School Admissions

      Posted: April 26th, 2013, 12:43pm CDT
      The modifications to the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) to be introduced in 2015 represent a significant change to a test which has hitherto seemed to successfully help medical school admissions committees identify students with the requisite ability to succeed in medical school. This commentary takes the decision to remove the MCAT Writing Sample as a stimulus to reconsider the value which a writing test can bring to admissions testing, and to examine some of the validity evidence and key considerations for using a writing task for such purposes. The authors argue that a writing task provides important information about applicants’ cognitive abilities that cannot be obtained using traditional selected-response items, and that this outweighs the conventional concern of testing to strive for maximum reliability at all costs.
    • Permalink for 'Redesigning the MCAT Exam:  Balancing Multiple Perspectives'

      Redesigning the MCAT Exam: Balancing Multiple Perspectives

      Posted: April 26th, 2013, 12:42pm CDT
      imageThe authors of this commentary discuss the recently completed review of the current Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), which has been used since 1991, and describe the blueprint for the new test that will be introduced in 2015. The design of the MCAT2015 exam reflects changes in medical education, medical science, health care delivery, and the needs of the populations served by graduates of U.S. and Canadian medical schools. The authors describe how balancing the ambitious goals for the new exam and the varying priorities of the testing program’s many stakeholders made blueprint design complex. They discuss the tensions and trade-offs that characterized the design process as well as the deliberations and data that shaped the blueprint. The blueprint for the MCAT2015 exam balances the assessment of a broad range of competencies in the natural, social, and behavioral sciences and critical analysis and reasoning skills that are essential to entering students’ success in medical school. The exam will include four sections: Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems; Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems; Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior; and Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills. The authors also offer recommendations for admission committees, advising them to review applicants’ test scores, course work, and other academic, personal, and experiential credentials as part of a holistic admission process and in relation to their institutions’ educational, scientific, clinical, and service-oriented goals.
    Read more »

| Kids Playground | Events Schedule |Image Galleries | Games | Radios |Animations | Chat | Classifieds | Blog Post | Free Content | News
Copyright @ 2005-2006 Marvin A. Hendricks Inc. All Rights Reserved