The MCAT Computer Based Test
Beginning in January 2007, the Medical College Admissions Test is only be administered via computer. There are a number of reasons why this new system for test administration is preferable. For one thing, it allows the test to be administered 22 times every calendar year, whereas before it was only administered twice. The greater availability of the exam means that students can take the exam up to three times a year, and will receive their results in 30 days rather than 60. Moreover, the reduced paperwork means that the testing session itself will last about half as long as before.
The exam administrators have also determined that the MCAT can be just as predictive of ability with one-third less questions. The computer administration of the MCAT is managed by Thomson Prometric at locations around the world. Testing centers are designed to be quiet and comfortable, and candidates can take advantage of amenities like noise-cancelling headphones and ergonomic chairs.
Those candidates who are familiar with computer-based testing should be advised that the MCAT is not an adaptive test; that is, the difficulty of the test items will not vary depending on the candidate’s performance. The content of the MCAT is fixed, and will remain the same even though the overall length of the exam has decreased. Candidates will be issued scratch paper, and will be allowed to go back and change answers within the ongoing section. During the Writing Sample section of the exam, candidates will be able to perform some common word-processing function, as for instance cutting, pasting, and copying sections of text. There will be no spell-check function, however.
The scoring of the computer-based exam will be the same as for the paper-based exam. Special computer skills will not be required to take this version of the exam. All of the computers used in testing have been equipped with a special recover function so that, in the event of technical malfunction, candidates can continue the exam without losing any work.
Information provided by Morrison Media LLC