Elsewhere-Students brace for switch to new electronic MCAT format

Daily Californian (UC-Berkeley)

(U-WIRE) BERKELEY, Calif.-With the MCAT changing in format and length for test takers in January 2007, test-prep companies and pre-med students are bracing themselves for the adjustment.

Traditional testing materials will be replaced as the eight-hour exam transitions from paper-and-pencil to a computer-based format, said Ellen Julian, associate vice president of the Association of American Medical Colleges, which administers the exam.

The test’s length will also be reduced by 30 percent for each of its four sections, she said.

While this change is not scheduled to be put into effect until next January, association officials have been working on the transition for nearly a decade.

“We’ve been working on this forever,” Julian said. “There are even a small number of computer-based testing sites now.”

Julian said the association has been pushing for the computer format because of the benefits it will bring to students, including more chances to take the test and faster test score results.

“We will be able to offer 22 chances to test each year rather than just two weekends a year,” Julian said.

Students also will receive their scores in half the time it takes now, which is normally a 60-day waiting period, she said.

Despite enthusiasm for the change, Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions officials viewed the transition with cautious optimism.

According to a survey recently conducted by Kaplan among its test-prep students, 80 percent had never taken a computer-based test and 82 percent thought they would do worse on one.