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Concept: Association of American Medical Colleges


Most American colleges and universities offer gateway biology courses to meet the needs of three undergraduate audiences: biology and related science majors, many of whom will become biomedical researchers; premedical students meeting medical school requirements and preparing for the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT); and students completing general education (GE) graduation requirements. Biology textbooks for these three audiences present a topic scope and sequence that correlates with the topic scope and importance ratings of the biology content specifications for the MCAT regardless of the intended audience. Texts for “nonmajors,” GE courses appear derived directly from their publisher’s majors text. Topic scope and sequence of GE texts reflect those of “their” majors text and, indirectly, the MCAT. MCAT term density of GE texts equals or exceeds that of their corresponding majors text. Most American universities require a GE curriculum to promote a core level of academic understanding among their graduates. This includes civic scientific literacy, recognized as an essential competence for the development of public policies in an increasingly scientific and technological world. Deriving GE biology and related science texts from majors texts designed to meet very different learning objectives may defeat the scientific literacy goals of most schools' GE curricula.

Concepts: Medicine, Education, University, Anatomy, Medical school, College, Curriculum, Association of American Medical Colleges


The Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) is a high-stakes test required for entry to most U. S. medical schools; admissions committees use this test to predict future accomplishment. Although there is evidence that the MCAT predicts success on multiple choice-based assessments, there is little information on whether the MCAT predicts clinical-based assessments of undergraduate and graduate medical education performance. This study looked at associations between the MCAT and medical school grade point average (GPA), Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) scores, observed patient care encounters, and residency performance assessments.

Concepts: Medicine, Physician, High school, Medical school, Residency, Medical education, Medical education in the United States, Association of American Medical Colleges


Medical school admissions interviews are used to assess applicants' nonacademic characteristics as advocated by the Association of American Medical Colleges' Advancing Holistic Review Initiative. The objective of this study is to determine whether academic metrics continue to significantly influence interviewers' scores in holistic processes by blinding interviewers to applicants' undergraduate grade point averages (uGPA) and Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). This study examines academic and demographic predictors of interview scores for two applicant cohorts at the University of Michigan Medical School. In 2012, interviewers were provided applicants' uGPA and MCAT scores; in 2013, these academic metrics were withheld from interviewers' files. Hierarchical regression analysis was conducted to examine the influence of academic and demographic variables on overall cohort interview scores. When interviewers were provided uGPA and MCAT scores, academic metrics explained more variation in interview scores (7.9%) than when interviewers were blinded to these metrics (4.1%). Further analysis showed a statistically significant interaction between cohort and uGPA, indicating that the association between uGPA and interview scores was significantly stronger for the 2012 unblinded cohort compared to the 2013 blinded cohort (β = .573, P < .05). By contrast, MCAT scores had no interactive effects on interviewer scores. While MCAT scores accounted for some variation in interview scores for both cohorts, only access to uGPA significantly influenced interviewers' scores when looking at interaction effects. Withholding academic metrics from interviewers' files may promote assessment of nonacademic characteristics independently from academic metrics.

Concepts: Regression analysis, Statistics, Evaluation methods, Medical school, Semi-structured interview, Interview, Medical College Admission Test, Association of American Medical Colleges


In recent years, medical educators have been making meaningful attempts to rethink how premedical students are prepared for medical school, and how medical students are prepared for residency. Among the many challenges to redesigning premedical and medical school curricula, one that stands out is the constraint imposed by our current methods of assessing aptitude, particularly our use of the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) and the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). For much of the past century, medical school and residency admissions committees have relied heavily on MCAT and USMLE scores to evaluate and rank candidates to their programs. These high-stakes exams determine to a large extent what is taught, and what is stressed, in preparation for and during medical school-despite the fact that scores have limited ability to predict future success in clinical medicine or biomedical research. Additionally, evidence indicates that students from disadvantaged and minority backgrounds do not fare as well on these exams and, as a result, may be disproportionately excluded from the medical profession. While medical school admissions committees have made limited incremental gains in holistic review, residency programs appear to be increasingly focused on USMLE Step scores and veering away from the spirit of holistic review. The authors propose that substantive change will remain slow in coming unless members of the medical education community radically rethink how we report scores from these exams, and how we use them in our selection of future medical students and residents.

Concepts: Medicine, Education, Physician, Medical school, Medical education, Medical education in the United States, Scylla and Charybdis, Association of American Medical Colleges


Each year over 50,000 college students and alumni take the Medical College Admissions Test® (MCAT) and apply for admissions to medical school. After an extensive review process, the MCAT has undergone a major revision in form and content in order to better reflect the competencies medical students will need to be successful in their training and practice. Starting in April 2015, for the first time since the test’s inception, the MCAT will include social and behavioral sciences content. The new section of the MCAT exam titled “The Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior” will test pre-health competencies that combine content knowledge with scientific inquiry and reasoning skills. Anticipating growing interest in curriculum related to the new competency based content on the exam, the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) established the Pre-health Collection within MedEdPORTAL’s iCollaborative, a free repository of teaching resources. This online space gives faculty members the opportunity to share access to instructional resources in order to prepare or revise courses to include pre-health competencies. As a result of the increased content related to mind-body connections, undergraduate pre-medical students will be more likely to enroll in neuroscience courses to learn these competencies, or declare neuroscience majors, as the typical neuroscience major course requirements now meet most of the suggested pre-requisite competencies for medical school.

Concepts: Psychology, Medicine, Behavior, Psychiatry, Association of American Medical Colleges


Background: Increasing student body diversity is a priority for national health education and professional organizations and for many medical schools. However, national rankings of medical schools, such as those published by U.S. News & World Report, place a heavy emphasis on grade point average (GPA) and Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) scores, without considering student body diversity. These rankings affect organizational reputation and admissions outcomes, even though there is considerable controversy surrounding the predictive value of GPA and MCAT scores. Summary: Our aim in this article was to explore the relationship between standard admissions practices, which typically aim to attract students with the highest academic scores, and student body diversity. We examined how changes in GPA and MCAT scores over 5 years correlated with the percentage of enrolled students who are underrepresented in medicine. In a majority of medical schools in the United States from 2005 to 2009, average GPA and MCAT scores of applicants increased, whereas the percentage of enrolled students who are underrepresented in medicine decreased. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that efforts to increase the diversity of medical school student bodies may be complicated by a desire to maintain high average GPA and MCAT scores. We propose that U.S. News revise its ranking methodology by incorporating a new diversity score into its student selectivity score and by reducing the weight placed on GPA and MCAT scores.

Concepts: Medicine, United States, Physician, Anatomy, Pediatrics, Medical school, Psychiatry, Association of American Medical Colleges


Purpose: We compared MCAT scores, grade point averages (GPAs), and medical school acceptance rates of Black and Latino students in an outreach program called Undergraduate Science Students Together Reaching Instructional Diversity and Excellence (USSTRIDE) to non-USSTRIDE students. We hypothesized that Black and Latino participants in USSTRIDE had higher acceptance rates to medical school, higher MCAT scores, and college GPAs when compared to other Black and Latino medical school applicants from our institution. Methods: The academic performance (GPAs and MCAT scores) and acceptance and matriculation rate data on all Black and Latino Florida State University applicants to any medical school from 2008 to 2012 were collected from the AIS/AMCAS database and separated into two comparison groups (USSTRIDE vs. Non-USSTRIDE). Independent sample T-tests and chi-square analysis, Cohen’s D test, and odds ratios were determined. Results: Average science GPA was 3.47 for USSTRIDE students (n=55) and 3.45 for non-USSTRIDE students (n=137, p=0.68, d=0.0652). Average cumulative GPA was 3.57 for USSTRIDE students and 3.54 for non-USSTRIDE students (p=0.45, d=0.121). Average MCAT score was 23 for USSTRIDE students and 25 for non-USSTRIDE students (p=0.02, d=0.378). Twenty-three percent of accepted USSTRIDE students and 29% of accepted non-USSTRIDE students had multiple acceptances (p=0.483, OR 1.38, 95% CI 0.52-3.88). Forty-nine percent of non-USSTRIDE students and 75% of USSTRIDE students matriculated in medical school (p=0.001, OR 3.13 95% CI 1.51-6.74). About 78.6% of USSTRIDE students matriculated at FSU’s medical school compared to 36.2% of non-USSTRIDE students (p<0.01). Conclusions: USSTRIDE and non-USSTRIDE students had similar science and cumulative GPAs. USSTRIDE students' MCAT scores were lower but acceptance rates to medical school were higher. Participation in USSTRIDE is associated with increased acceptance rates for Black and Latino students to our medical school. This finding is true for other medical schools as USSTRIDE students are as likely as non-USSTRIDE students to have multiple acceptances.

Concepts: Medicine, Physician, Anatomy, Pediatrics, Medical school, Psychiatry, Florida State University, Association of American Medical Colleges


The recent report on the Scientific Foundations for Future Physicians (SFFP) and the revised Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) reframe the preparation for medical school (and other health professional schools) in terms of competencies: what students should know and be able to do with that knowledge, with a strong emphasis on scientific inquiry and research skills. In this article, we will describe the thinking that went into the SFFP report and what it says about scientific and quantitative reasoning, focusing on biology and physics and the overlap between those fields. We then discuss how the SFFP report set the stage for the discussion of the recommendations for the revised MCAT, which will be implemented in 2015, again focusing the discussion on biology and physics. Based on that framework, we discuss the implications for undergraduate biology and physics education if students are to be prepared to demonstrate these competencies.

Concepts: Scientific method, Medicine, Physics, Physician, Anatomy, Pediatrics, Medical school, Association of American Medical Colleges


PURPOSE: 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 preinterview 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.

Concepts: Medicine, Decision making, Physician, Anatomy, Pediatrics, Medical school, Psychiatry, Association of American Medical Colleges