4 Things To Know About the MCAT in 2021 | During the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has made many aspects of life particularly challenging. Those applying to medical school programs found that many administrations of the MCAT were pushed back or canceled. If you’re a med school hopeful, this setback has likely already cost you time and energy.
You’ll want to be as prepared as possible when you are able to appear for the test this year. Taking the MCAT in 2021 should not be as uncertain or chaotic, but there are still points you should be sure you are aware of to get the best results possible.
It’s More Competitive Than Ever
The cancellation of many of last year’s exams, and the general uncertainty and stress, led many prospective students to postpone their MCAT. This means more people are taking the test this year. With all the extra competition, you’re under pressure to score in at least the 75th percentile in order to gain admission to a good medical school program.
In the last couple of years, the average GPA and MCAT score requirements for medical schools have increased significantly across the board. Even programs that you may have been confident about in the past have become more competitive. Aiming for the best possible score instead of the bare minimum will serve your best interests in 2021’s competitive MCAT scene. The percentile range of your score will be a deciding factor of which programs you can hope to be accepted to.
Med school programs are split into two categories: MD (allopathic) and DO (osteopathic). The MD is the more traditional route, whereas a DO program will take a more holistic, mind-body approach. Both are accredited, and programs for both require high MCAT scores and extensive studying.
The Full-Length MCAT Is Back
Many of last year’s full-length, in-person MCAT administrations were canceled due to social distancing protocols put in place during the pandemic. This year, full-length in-person tests are back again, subject to state, local and federal guidelines. Because some virus protocols are still evolving and uncertain, you should be sure to stay up-to-date with restrictions in your area, so you’ll know if they may affect your testing plan.
The test will be conducted as usual with a total exam time of 7-and-a-half hours, including a ten-minute tutorial, 50 minutes of break, and a brief survey. If there are any further changes in the future, you’ll be notified in advance.
Rescheduling and Cancellation Fees Will Still Be Waived
Due to the unavoidable scheduling conflicts often created by the consequences of the pandemic, the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) chose to waive rescheduling and cancellation fees in 2020. This waiver will continue to be applicable in 2021.
If you find yourself facing circumstances that conflict with your exam in any way, you can easily reschedule or cancel this year’s MCAT exam without additional costs. But before you opt for canceling or rescheduling, weigh all your options and decide whether the time you will lose waiting for the next registration is worth the wait in the current highly competitive environment.
You Have Plenty of Prep Options
There are many virtual test prep options online, many of which are free of charge. There are also many online groups and courses online where you can ask questions, get tips, and find study partners. In addition, you can find online tutors who can help you make a study plan, answer questions, and provide other resources for preparing for your MCAT. The spike in digital resources of all kinds caused by the pandemic has extended into this year, so there is more available online than ever.
Many people find they focus better when studying with tangible materials they can hold in their hands. Fortunately, there are also a plethora of physical resources available as well. Just make sure to use the best books to prep for the MCAT, so you know you are getting the best information.
Information Will Win You Half the Battle
Knowing when and how to prepare for your MCAT will play a significant part in determining how well you perform on the test. Medical school admissions promise to be fiercely competitive this year, so ensure you have an edge by staying aware of any changes to test administration in your area. Study smart, and avail yourself of all resources available. This will help you prepare better and improve your chances of getting a high score and gaining admission to the program of your dreams.