Students must take a standardized test as part of their application to health professions school. Each test differs somewhat in subject matter. They all test reading comprehension, critical thinking skills, problem-solving ability, and subject area knowledge.
Students should take the exams after they have taken classes in the subject areas covered. For example, medical applicants will have taken General Chemistry, and some or all of Biology, Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry and Physics before they take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Some students self-study for the Psychology and Sociology section of the exam and others choose to take classes. In addition, the MCAT tests critical analysis and reading skills -- if you feel like you need work in this areas, you are encouraged to take classes that will help you to build these skills.
In spring 2015, the MCAT changed to reflect changing competencies deemed important in future physicians by medical schools. We summarize this information briefly in a handout, a Question of the Week and our winter 2013 newsletter.
The AAMC creates and administers the MCAT, and provides the most up to date information about the exam on their webpage, including these highlighted pages:
AAMC MCAT Prep Materials
MCAT Test Prep Companies
About half of our applicants take prep courses, while the other half self study using resources such as those above. Beyond studying content, we recommend practicing with online problems and sample exams that replicate the actual MCAT testing conditions, analyzing your strengths and areas to improve with each set of practice material, and adjusting study and preparation strategies accordingly. To see how some of the test prep companies are handling the new MCAT, critically evaluate the information that they present online:
- Kaplan (offers free practice exam)
- Princeton Review (offers free practice exam)
- Gold Standard (offers free 1/3 length exam)
- Next Step (offers free diagnostic and one free full length exam)
- Altius (offers free practice exam)
*note that HPA does not officially promote, sponsor or recommend any test preparation company - we gather information for our students and make it available to them.
Standardized Tests for Other Health Professions
- Dental: Dental Admission Test (DAT)
- Veterinary, Public Health, Others: Graduate Record Exam (GRE)
- Optometry: Optometry Admission Test (OAT)
- Pharmacy: Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT)