Getting Familiar with the 2015 MCAT: What’s Changing and What’s Staying the Same

We welcome the following guest blog post from Bryan Schnedeker of Next Step Test Preparation. Bryan provides a great update on the new 2015 MCAT.


By Bryan Schnedeker, Next Step Test Preparation

Starting in 2015, the MCAT is going to undergo its biggest revamp in over twenty years. Here’s a quick guide on what you need to know about the new test:

What’s staying the same?

  • To prep for the MCAT you’ll still need to have a year each of biology, chemistry, physics, and organic chemistry under your belt.
  • The Verbal Reasoning section is getting a new name: Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills, but is fundamentally the same. That is, you’ll still be expected to read lengthy, boring passages on topics from the humanities and social sciences and then answer tricky inference-based questions about the text.
  • The Biological Sciences section is getting a new name: Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems (BFLS), and it will continue to depend heavily on biology concepts. Roughly 65% of this section will be biology, but only 6% will still be organic chemistry.
  • The Physical Sciences section is getting a new name: Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems (PFBS), and will continue to test physics and general chemistry. Roughly 33% of this section will be gen chem and 25% will be physics.

What’s New?

The new test is going to be significantly longer. With the new psychology section, the exam will run about seven hours. If you include the often lengthy wait during the check-in process, and potentially longer breaks between sections, students can expect the MCAT to take eight or nine hours to complete.

Next, a new section is being added: Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior. This new section will work much like the other sections. Students will expect to see a mix of lengthy experiment-based passages with accompanying questions, interspersed with a few independent questions that purely test outside knowledge.

The new BFLS and PFBS sections will also be seeing several big shake-ups in the content they test. The biggest issue is the addition of biochemistry content. That’s an entire semester-long course that’s being added to the MCAT list of prereq’s. This means that starting in March 2015, an MCAT student will want to have finished all of the following:

  • 2 semesters biology (3 recommended)
  • 2 semesters general chemistry
  • 2 semester physics
  • 1 semester organic chemistry (2 recommended)
  • 1 semester biochemistry
  • 1 semester psychology
  • 1 semester sociology
  • 1 semester statistics (recommended)
  • 2-3 semesters of humanities, philosophy, social sciences, or other courses that involve intensive reading (recommended)

Here’s the AAMC’s breakdown on content areas in the new sections:

Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems (95 min)

  • Biochemistry: 25%
  • Biology: 65%
  • Chemistry: 4%
  • Organic Chem: 6%

Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems (95 min)

  • Biochem: 25%
  • Biology: 2%
  • Chemistry: 33%
  • Organic Chem: 15%
  • Physics: 25%

Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior (95 min)

  • Psychology: 60%
  • Sociology: 30%
  • Biology: 10%

Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (90 min)

  • Humanities: 50%
  • Social Science: 50%

Finally, the AAMC has indicated that they will be placing a renewed emphasis on questions that hinge on experimental design and the interpretation of data, including the statistical meaning or significance of data. It’s still unclear if any specific coursework can be used to prep for this new outlook, but students may want to consider taking a one-semester course on statistics as a way to prepare.

So if you will be taking this new MCAT, what can you do about it now?

The main thing you’ll want to do is get all of your course work in. Make sure you plan to complete all of the classes listed above before your test.

In addition to getting the right course work done, you’ll also want to make sure you have all of the relevant up-to-date info. For that, you can like our Facebook page and check for official updates on AAMC’s 2015 page.

Good luck!

Next Step Test Preparation provides one-on-one MCAT tutor programs nationwide.

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