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What’s Going to Be on the MCAT in 2023?

For individuals preparing for the upcoming 2023 MCAT, a question at the forefront of their minds is likely, “What is going to be on the MCAT 2023 exam?” It is understandable to be curious about what will be different or newly challenging about next year’s exam or any of the exams offered in the future. It’s often discussed that the Association of American Medical Colleges’ (AAMC’s) scoring scale is adjusted each year, and this leads many to expect that next year’s test will be harder or more competitive than the ones preceding it. 

How does AAMC generate and adjust percentile ranks?

Fortunately, the AAMC goes into great detail about their scoring practices and how they generate and adjust percentile ranks each year. If you are seeking more detail about these specifics, their website is a great place to get the most up to date and accurate information about how your upcoming exam will be scored, which will greatly help your test information. 

However, we know you are probably busy with more important things, like actually studying for your MCAT, for example! Here is a quick breakdown of how the MCAT 2023 and all future MCATs compare to exams from previous years.

The AAMC transparently claims that upcoming exams will change as time goes on. These alterations are intentional to ensure that the exam remains fair for all test takers. More importantly, the content must change in order to appropriately capture and test changes within science, medicine, and a culturally competent understanding of patient populations. The AAMC emphasizes that the MCAT is a preparatory exam for future doctors, so their test intentionally writes new questions to reflect the developments and changes which doctors will face one day.

How will you be scored?

So, what is the average MCAT score? Although the questions themselves will change, the 2023 exam scores will still range from 472 to 528. The numerical score is generated based on the amount of correctly answered questions in each section. Each test taker will take different “forms” or sets of questions within a pool of possible questions available for each of the four sections. 

This means that the individual question sets one examinee encounters may differ from the ones another examinee saw even in the same testing administration.  Still, individual question differences are accounted for during the scoring process, so no one exam is more challenging than another. These variable question sets ensure the actual MCAT test date or time of year does not impact the difficulty. 

So, make sure the practice questions you use are also up to date. The variation in difficulty between different question sets is accounted for by the AAMC scorers. During the scoring process, the questions are scaled and equated so that scores have the same meaning regardless of the time you took your exam or who was retaking MCAT or taking the MCAT exam for the first time that day. Although they may have answered different questions, one examinee’s CARS 124 remains identical to another’s CARS 124. 

Will you solely be scored for your MCAT performance?

It is important to clarify that the Medical College Admission Test, or MCAT, utilizes a scaled scoring system, not a curved one. Because of this scaled system, the time of year, the group of examinees you test with, nor the testers who have taken the exam before you have any impact on your exam score. Your performance on the questions on your exam are what create your score, nothing more. So, be sure to review MCAT practice test questions frequently.

The only metrics that take into account the performance of other test takers are the percentile ranks. These percentages show how many other examinees scored the same or lower than you in order to give you an idea of how your MCAT score compares to others. 

Don’t worry, even if test takers did amazingly well one year, these percentages have no bearing on your actual MCAT score, and the percentile ranks are created with data combined from the previous three years of tests. The ranks are updated annually every May 1, and since they utilize combined data it means that any alteration is a meaningful change, not a fleeting fluctuation. 

Throughout your MCAT prep and when assessing percentile rank data, it is more beneficial to focus on how you are doing and to put your best effort in, rather than being overly concerned with other test takers’ performance. The 2023 MCAT is another updated variation of the MCAT exam, and the exam will favor prepared test takers. Start your prep with our free MCAT resources

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