The Medical College Admission Test, the multiple-choice entry exam for future physicians, will be converted to an entirely computer-based format within the next two years, the Association of American Medical Colleges announced.
The exam also will be pared down, an AAMC spokeswoman said. The current MCAT exam includes 214 questions covering three broad areas -- physical sciences, verbal reasoning and biological sciences -- and a writing sample. Administrators say they believe they can get just as clear a picture of an applicant's potential with a more streamlined version of the exam. With about one-third of the questions eliminated, the new test will take about five hours to complete, down from as many as 10 hours with the pencil-and-paper version.
The Washington-based association, which administers more than 60,000 MCAT exams each year at approximately 600 sites around the globe, said the current "fill-in-the-bubbles" paper version of the rigorous exam will end after 2006. The upgrade will pave the way for more test dates each year, faster results and a shorter test day, officials said.
The new test also will include technology to capture the test-taker's thumbprint electronically, rather than on paper. This verification procedure will shorten pre-test check-in times and help administrators verify the examinee's eligibility.