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AAMC Announces New MCAT Dates and a Shorter MCAT

Why didn’t anyone let the AAMC know the golden rule: never make a huge announcement on a Friday afternoon?

Today, they dropped not one, not two, but five bombs, including the highly-anticipated new MCAT test dates and a shorter MCAT. Unsurprisingly, their website was unable to handle the stampede of eager pre-meds trying to get answers to their big questions: When can I take the MCAT? Can I take the MCAT at home? Will med schools no longer require MCAT scores? Is the May 29 MCAT canceled?

~ Deep breath~ Let’s dive into today’s announcements.

Updated 2020-2021 MCAT Schedule

A few weeks ago, the AAMC canceled all the MCAT dates through May 28, 2020 in response to the growing COVID-19 pandemic and nationwide stay-at-home-orders. Some students rescheduled for later dates in the summer and early fall. However, others found themselves unable to secure seats as test centers filled up. In an effort to allow all med school applicants to sit for an MCAT, today the AAMC added three new test dates to the schedule: June 28, September 27, and September 28. Registration for these new MCAT dates opens May 7.

Sadly, you will not be able to take the MCAT remotely. All exams continue to be in person.

MCAT Rescheduling Fees Waived

All rescheduling fees for the remaining 2020 MCAT dates will be waived until further notice. Read: if you want to reschedule, take advantage as soon as you’re certain!

New MCAT Times

This one might be a welcome change for night owls and early birds alike! Tests will now be held at 6:30 AM, 12:15 PM, and 6 PM. Students will be allowed to test at night for the first time ever. Does this mean you will be testing at 1 AM? Well, not really.

Shorter MCAT

The AAMC shortened the MCAT day to 5 hours and 45 minutes from the normal 7.5 hours, effective immediately. Of course, they couldn’t make the MCAT shorter without altering it slightly. Yes, they did reduce or remove some administrative things, such as the tutorial, after-test survey, and some field-test (unscored) questions, but they also went one step further and shortened the MCAT sections. It would have been too cruel to expect you to finish the same amount of questions in less time.

Normal breakdown of MCAT questions:

  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems: 59 questions/95 minutes
  • CARS: 53 questions/90 minutes
  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems: 59 questions/95 minutes
  • Psychological/Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior: 59 questions/95 minutes

New breakdown of MCAT Questions (effective May 29, 2020):

  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems: 48 questions/76 minutes
  • CARS: 48 questions/81 minutes
  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems: 48 questions/76 minutes
  • Psychological/Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior: 48 questions/76 minutes

Here’s a look at how long the shorter MCAT is and how long each MCAT section is.

How long is the shorter MCAT 2020

Quicker Score Turnaround

The AAMC knows you need your score ASAP to apply to medical school. While it’s true some schools are being flexible with deadlines, you’ll be relieved to know the score turnaround time has been reduced from one month to two weeks for exams taking place June 19-August 1.

Ok. This is a lot to take in. Let’s look at how your MCAT plans might be affected.

Will a shortened MCAT score affect my application?
It is very likely that admissions committees will weigh the shortened MCAT equal to the regular MCAT. The AAMC is working closely with medical schools to keep the upcoming admissions cycle as fair as possible.

Will the shorter MCAT be easier?
No. The AAMC specifically stated that the shorter exam will not be easier than the normal full-length MCAT. You will still go through the four sections and the exam will probably keep the distribution of topics, difficulties, and reasoning skills identical between exam formats.

With the changes to the exam, how should students alter their studying?

The short answer is not much. The long answer is that you should take into account that the new MCAT features fewer passages per section and a shortening of the mid-exam break.

Having a few seconds less to solve each CARS question may not seem like much, but it does translate to a faster pace across 48 questions. Keep track of how much time you have left over when completing the CARS section; if you are finishing with less than five minutes on the clock, work on improving your pacing. You may want to allot yourself slightly less time per CARS question or work on strategies to improve your reading speed.

It’s always best to prep with most representative MCAT practice exams—we’ve restructured all the Blueprint MCAT practice exams to give students the option to take them in the shorter or standard format. However, continuing to take normal practice exams will not be a disadvantage in any way, so continue to include the official AAMC practice exams in your study plan (along with the additional Blueprint exams) for the best practice. If anything, taking normal-length practice exams will build up your testing endurance to crush the real deal.

The shortened mid-exam break means that you’ll only have 10 minutes to eat lunch instead of 30 minutes. For slow eaters or those who were planning on packing a steak dinner (literally, if you’re taking the MCAT at night), lighter fare might be the way to go. Think simple sandwiches, yogurt, and the like.

The AAMC might have thrown everyone a curveball today, but Blueprint MCAT (formerly Next Step) will continue to help premeds achieve their dream MCAT scores and keeping you informed of any MCAT changes, plus the best ways to pivot your MCAT prep strategies to accommodate them.