With a new testing center, comes new changes to the MCAT user interface. Things won’t be drastically different, but we thought you should know as you prepare.
We have a new book coming up called The Premed Playbook: Guide to the MCAT. Go to mcatbook.com to be notified when it comes out! This book is published with the Blueprint MCAT (formerly Next Step Test Prep).
This book is the third installment, along with my other books, The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Interview (released in 2017) The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Personal Statement (coming out in 2018).
Meanwhile, check out all our other podcasts on MedEd Media Network.
[01:55] The User Interface Changes on the New MCAT: The Good News
Bryan dishes out the good news and bad news to this. Good news: even though change is scary, there’s not going to be any surprises. All of the AAMC practice tests, Q Banks, section pack, etc. have all been updated to this new interface looking feel.
Students listening to this podcast in January 2018 when this has just happened, you will be able to get a lot of practice in.
While for Next Step, they’re going to roll out big updates after the January MCAT, to all of their practice tests. So that by Feb. 01, 2018, all of their tests will have the same look and feel as the AAMC.
So there are plenty of practice opportunities to familiarize yourself with the new interface.
[03:05] The Bad News
The bad news, as Bryan says it, is everything else about the User Interface. The basic functions remain the same. You can strike things out, highlight things, navigate back and forth, and through the questions. You can “flag” a question and review questions you’ve left blank. When you get to the review screen at the end, you can review all of the questions you flagged. So the actual physical functions have not been changed.
For keyword shortcuts, they didn’t not add Ctrl F where you can just find stuff. Unfortunately, no. They didn’t do that. There was nothing physically about the mechanics has changed at all.
The bad news is the actual implementation which is awkward. Bryan describes it as a weird mishmash of having a drop-down menu. You select highlight or remove highlighting or select strike out. You can now strike out and highlight anything, anywhere. It sounds good at first. But it can get in the way if you make a mistake. There is no need to highlight or lowlight in the question. So it’s not helpful.
The keyboard shortcuts where you can pick CTRL H to add highlighting is a nice addition. Some students have already expressed dissatisfaction with using the new interface.
[05:30] You’ll Get Used to It
It’s not really a monumental change. But it’s a change. You can just adapt with it very quickly. Bryan encourages students to familiarize themselves with it.
If you’re taking the January 2018 MCAT, use the official AAMC resources to do so. But if you’re preparing for any other MCAT in the future, use either Blueprint MCAT (formerly Next Step Test Prep) or official AAMC resources to get the hang of it.
[06:25] The Reasons Behind the Change
Not that this is something students should care about, but the actual company that physically administers the MCAT switched over from being Prometric to Pearson. And the UI update was announced at the same time.
Bryan has been to Pearson testing centers and he has taken other Pearson tests. He was surprised that a lot of the icons and color schemes all looked like how Pearson administers the GRE and PCAT. So Bryan suspects this is just the Pearson tech guys working with the AAMC to fold the MCAT into the company’s infrastructure. Whether that’s true or not, we don’t know.
[07:30] Next Step Platform’s New UI
The Next Step platform has rolled out the New UI to go with the new UI from the AAMC and Pearson. If you are taking full-length practice tests, go to Blueprint MCAT (formerly Next Step Test Prep). They have ten full-length practice tests. Use the promo code MCATPOD to save 10% off their full-length tests.
Time and time again, we get feedback from students saying that the Next Step full-length exams are the most accurate. It’s second to the AAMC (of course, the gold standard since they’re the ones making the exam).
The Premed Playbook: Guide to the MCAT. Go to mcatbook.com
The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Interview (released in 2017)
The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Personal Statement (coming out in 2018)