Following the 2012-2013 testing year, the AAMC did away with the writing sample portion of the MCAT. Since it’s been quite a while since premeds have needed to prepare for an MCAT writing sample, current students may be concerned as to whether the writing sample has snuck its way back into the lives of premeds everywhere, hidden between the passages of the CARS section. But alas, it hasn’t!
So there really is no MCAT Writing Sample?
There is no writing sample requirement on the new MCAT whatsoever. For anyone who may be unfamiliar with the writing sample, prior to the 2013 testing year, all test-takers were required to complete a fourth section of the MCAT, which was simply called—you guessed it—the Writing Sample. While being a good writer is definitely a necessary skill for medical students to have, the writing sample on the MCAT seemed to create quite a bit of uncertainty among students. Many students didn’t know if schools were even interested in the scores they received on this section and, as such, didn’t take it seriously. Furthermore, some test-takers felt that the writing sample section was more vulnerable to scoring inconsistencies. The writing sample was replaced with an optional trial section that tested out questions and topics for the 2015 MCAT, which is the current version of the exam.
Wonderful! One Less Thing to Worry About, Right?
Well, sort of. Even though the MCAT doesn’t test your writing, medical schools are still very interested in your ability to utilize the written word to relay ideas and concepts. So, even though the writing section was removed from the MCAT, an essay is still required as part of your medical school application. Both allopathic and osteopathic medical schools require this writing sample, better known as the personal statement. Your statement can be up to 5300 characters long for AMCAS and 4500 characters long for AACOMAS. Unlike the MCAT writing sample of ore, your personal statement is really an opportunity to shine. Your statement gives you a chance to let prospective medical schools know what sets you apart from the crowd and what fuels your passion for medicine in your own words. If you have any inconsistencies in your application (i.e. a below average MCAT score or low GPA) this is great opportunity to explain yourself and let med schools know that you’re up to the challenge.
Most graduate admissions exams (GRE, GMAT, and LSAT) contain a writing section. How about the MCAT? No or at least not for the current MCAT. Previous test takers had to complete an MCAT writing sample but it no longer exists. In 2008, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) created a committee to review the MCAT. One important finding from the committee was that the writing section of the MCAT was of low value to medical school admissions committee. As a result, the MCAT writing sample was removed from the exam in 2013. Writing skills are still important though. There is plenty of writing that you will have to do in your medical school application.
The MCAT Writing Sample
The MCAT writing sample was not a particularly stressful section of the old MCAT. Students had sixty minutes to respond to two essay prompts. The essay prompts would each come with a statement. Students had to write their interpretation of the statement, provide a counterexample to the statement, and formulate a resolution to the statement and the counterexample. The essays would each be read by two readers for a total of four readers. The readers would assign the essay a score between 1-6. The total score ranging between 4-24 would then be assigned an alphabetical score between J through T with T being the highest.
Only Multiple Choice Questions
As stated above, the MCAT writing sample no longer exists. In fact, there is no free response section on the entire exam. Students do not have to draw out arrow pushing diagrams for a chemical reaction or write out force calculations for a free body diagram. There are only multiple-choice questions. To learn more about how to strategically approach the MCAT as a multiple-choice test, read our previous post on Is the MCAT Multiple Choice?