Update on sociology becoming part of the MCAT in January 2015

ASA’s Footnotes for December 2012 includes an article with more details on sociological material being included on the MCAT in upcoming years:

An important change in the MCAT® (the Medical College Admission Test) has the potential to have a significant impact on sociology departments across the country. In February 2012, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) “approved changes… that will require aspiring doctors to have an understanding of the social and behavioral sciences.” (Mann, 2012). The new version of the test, which will be in place by January of 2015, includes an entire section on the social and behavioral sciences. One implication of this change is that pre-medical curricula across the country may start requiring that students take an introductory sociology course (as well as an introductory course in psychology) in preparation for taking the MCAT (see, for example, Brenner and Ringe 2012)…

The exact content of sociology and psychology test questions is not yet finalized. Starting in January 2014 the new social science section of the MCAT will be included as an “optional” section. The cohort of students who take that first updated version of the MCAT are already enrolled in college. Students who choose to complete it will be compensated in some way. These trial runs will be used to modify the section before it “counts” as part of the MCAT score. Starting in January 2015 the test will include the required section on social and behavioral sciences.

The new section of the MCAT that tests sociology and psychology is described in a Preview Guide to the MCAT2015 Exam. The descriptions contained in that guide detail specific content areas within sociology (including “understanding social structure,” “demographic characteristics and processes,” “social stratification,” and “social inequality”) that will be covered on the test (AAMC 2012:12).

Two quick thoughts:

1. I’ve mentioned this change in my Intro classes a few times and I think some pre-med students were aware of what was happening. I can’t say for sure that I’ve had an uptick in students interested in medical fields but this article suggests this could happen in coming years.

2. While I think this makes a lot of sense for medical practitioners to have some knowledge of society and social life, I am amazed at times that more fields don’t explicitly train their students or ask them to take classes in social life. For example, isn’t business often about interacting with people as well as managing employees? Wouldn’t sociology provide insights into this?

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