AAMC MCAT Outline: Social Inequality

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MP 178: AAMC MCAT Outline: Social Inequality

Session 178

We’re wrapping up our MCAT Content Outline with social inequality – social and cultural capital, social mobility, health, and healthcare disparities, and more!

Phil from Next Step Test Prep is joining us once again as he sheds light on the last pieces of the AAMC Content Category 10A. Next Step Test Prep is soon going to be Blueprint MCAT.  Stay tuned for the changes!

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

[05:26] Social Capital vs. Cultural Capital

There are special terms here that are a bit nuanced. Most people think of the term capital as money. But there are also other kinds of capital besides financial capital such as social capital and cultural capital. 

'Capital is something you can use to get stuff done.'Click To Tweet

Social Capital 

'Social capital is the classic 'who do you know?'' Click To Tweet

For instance, your father was the governor of Missouri and then all of a sudden it’s going to be easier for doing things versus another person.

Another example is students who are lacking social capital in terms of access to physicians to get shadowing and clinical experience would be harder for them to find physicians to shadow.

Whereas one who has social capital would have easy access if you have a physician in the family or a neighbor who’s a physician. Or your mother is a nurse so you have social capital as you’re able to talk to the doctors she knows.

Cultural Capital

It’s more about how society views you. This allows you to do things in certain situations versus others.

For instance, a garbage man versus an elementary teacher. There’s not that much financial difference between the two. But if you say you’re a teacher and then you go to a car dealership. Then you tell them you don’t make much money. Then they’d say teachers have a noble profession so they will make that a bit easier for you. And you can use that at different times.

'It's the way the culture views that scenario.'Click To Tweet

[10:10] Social Class vs.  Social Mobility

People are comfortable with upper class, lower class, middle class – but that’s not true for every society. A lot of times, there’s a lot of mobility in between those classes.

For instance, you’re born into a caste system and you’re born into the social class and you can’t move up or down.

[10:40] Intergenerational Mobility vs. Intragenerational mobility

Intergenerational is between generations. For instance, your father was in one social class and you’re in a different social class. So there’s a changing of the classes between these two different generations.

Intragenerational is within a generation. An example would be if you’re in one class and your brother is in a different class. And your class goes up and down and he goes up and down. Like from a poor, broke student to a physician. So there’s some movement between those social classes.

[11:30] Health Disparities vs. Healthcare Disparities

This is a bit tricky to touch on. For health disparities, there are disparities in health between races, genders, and classes. Women have to deal with different things biologically than men do. So if a man is coming in for a pregnancy test, there’s something wrong there. The lower class has higher rates of heart disease. It can also be between races.

Certain races have more common certain genetic diseases than others. For instance, sickle cell anemia is more common in the African-American population than other caucasian race. So you need to look into past genders and race to figure out what’s going on with healthcare.

'There are differences between health and the classes and you can't just paint everyone with the same brush.' Click To Tweet

Healthcare disparities are the way people are treated between gender, class, and race. Sometimes people are treated differently when they go in.

A good example here is the transgender population. As mentioned above, a man coming in for a pregnancy test would sound wrong. But if that’s a transgender man who still has a uterus and ovaries to produce eggs. Then maybe nothing went wrong there. It’s just a transgender man who still has the ability to have a baby.

'Transgender population has a lot of healthcare disparities because of a lot of negative bias towards them among healthcare providers and other people in society.'Click To Tweet

[14:17] Something to Be Aware Of

Doctors tend to pay more attention to men complaining of an issue than women. It’s not the way it should be. But in many societies, men are taught from childhood not to complain or it will show weakness.

You have to be very careful because this is how it is. This happens where doctors and physicians will pay more attention to some people versus others. So just be aware of that because this happens not just within genders but classes and races.

Another side of this is just healthcare access between classes. The lower classes usually can’t afford to go to the doctor. It’s just too expensive.

[17:45] How MCAT Would Be Testing the Concepts

With social capital vs. cultural capital, they could be doing a full discrete question or a pseudo-discrete question tied to the passage. They’re just testing to know if you understand these terms.

For instance, a priest really wants to build a house in this area. Because he’s a priest, he’s allowed to when normally, you’d have to have some qualifications that he no longer needs. What kind of capital is he using in order to make that happen? So the answer would be cultural capital.

Now if it were one of the parishioners who is the head of the HOA in that area then that would be social capital.

With health disparities and healthcare disparities, they can talk about the way a medical student, a resident, or a physician is treating certain people in certain scenarios.

Like there’s a big passage with lots of data and studies on this. For example, they’re ignoring overweight because of some implicit bias towards being distrustful of people who were overweight or poor or women or a certain race.

It’s really easy to find studies on those. As a result, those things are really easy to write in a passage because there are lots of data. So health disparities and healthcare disparities can begin with a big passage with a lot of questions to analyze the data.

'The MCAT really likes to do data-based passages.'Click To Tweet

Unlike with the social and cultural capital, health disparities and healthcare disparities can be a little more difficult. You have to be more comfortable with these ideas because these are the sorts of things the MCAT is going to want to give a lot of questions on.

[21:00] Final Thoughts

Just think about why we’re going through the Psych/Soc. It’s incredibly high-yield. Even with just the psychology section, you have more questions in psychology than chemistry and physics combined. There are about 38 psychology questions on test day versus 15 physics questions. 

'Psych/Soc is incredibly high-yield.'Click To Tweet

Phil thinks Psych is one of the easiest ways to increase your score quickly. A lot of people are underestimating Psych. They’re traumatized by organic chemistry and physics so they want to spend a lot of time on that stuff. As a result, a lot of students are not spending that much time on Psych.

'Because of the way the MCAT is scored, it's a way to differentiate yourself from your peers.'Click To Tweet

With the MCAT, you’re measured against your peers not just strictly on how many questions you got correctly or incorrectly.

If you could spend a little bit more time on an area that a lot fo students are neglecting it, you’re going to differentiate your score quite a bit more. So you might get more return on that time investment.


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