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  • Professional Service

    FAQs: The MCAT Exam and COVID-19

    Last Updated: November 4, 2020

    Read answers to frequently asked questions about the temporary changes to the MCAT exam during COVID-19 and on topics related to using MCAT scores from the shortened version of the exam.

    Testing Plans for 2021

    Why aren’t you keeping the shortened exam and continuing to expedite scores?

    2020 was an exceptional year and we adjusted to the unusual circumstances we all faced. The testing plan for 2021 is designed for our current context and allows flexibility in the event that conditions change.

    In 2021, we expect to administer tests on a normal full-year schedule, while preserving the flexibility to make changes in response to the changing context.  

    We have added an extra January test (33% more testing capacity) and will be reporting scores from the January exams in two weeks rather than four because we think that some 2021 applicants still want to test. But, after January, we will return to the typical 30- to 35-day score reporting schedule for exams administered in March and beyond.  

    We are basing these plans on the best information available to us at this time. If circumstances change, we have built in the flexibility to respond.

    Will the AAMC offer remote online proctored administrations? 

    No. The AAMC has studied this option carefully and we have concluded at this time that there is no way to ensure equal access and test integrity by administering an online proctored exam.

    As testing technology advances and issues of access are better addressed, we will continue to re-examine this issue. At this time, the only way to administer fair and accurate tests is in professional testing centers.

    Health and Safety

    What are you doing to ensure the health and safety of examinees when MCAT administrations resume?

    Examinee health and safety is our top priority. There will be multiple health and safety measures in place at all test centers, including

    • Requiring the use of face masks for all staff and MCAT examinees Limiting the number of people in each MCAT test session.
    • Observing social distance between individuals in the testing room.
    • Approving the use of gloves while testing (upon inspection)
    • Allowing personal hand sanitizer bottles in the test room (upon inspection)
    • Having hand sanitizer available during testing. Examinees will be asked to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer before they enter the testing room.
    • Cleaning and disinfecting regimens in between all testing appointments and throughout the day
    • Requiring examinees to acknowledge that they meet the below requirements and that they will follow health and safety guidelines while testing by providing their signature on the e-pad during check-in.
    • Utilize clear sneeze guards to create a barrier between test center staff and examinees during check in.

    We encourage you to learn more about the health and safety protocols in place at MCAT test centers.

    Score Reporting and Score Use

    Will scores be reported in two weeks for test dates in 2021?

    Again, as in past years, scores will be reported within a 30- to 35-day window following test dates with the exception of scores from the January exams, which will be reported in about two weeks. This will help medical schools that accept January 2021 scores manage their admissions timelines. This will also help students who still want to take the MCAT exam and submit scores in their 2021 applications. Please see the above FAQ about the 2021 testing year plans

    How can we use scores from the 2020 exam in 2021 and 2022 student selection?

    The key to 2021 selection is flexibility. You will undoubtedly receive MCAT scores later than usual for some of your applicants. It will be more important than ever to use your existing holistic review practices to consider students’ experiences, attributes, and opportunities to learn. Some of your 2021 applicants have had disrupted learning, finished their semesters at home and online, faced uncertainty in what these changes mean for the competitiveness of their applications, and faced multiple disruptions in preparing for the MCAT exam. These and other challenges provide important context for the MCAT scores applicants submit.

    Will the scores reported in two weeks have the same accuracy as scores reported in four weeks?

    The number of scored questions remains the same in the shortened exam. Students will receive the same section and total scores on the shortened exam as on the full-length exam. Scores will have the same precision and be reported with the same confidence bands as test scores from the longer exam. 

    Where can I access the guide to Using MCAT Scores in 2021 Student Selection?

    The Using MCAT Data in 2021 Medical Student Selection guide is available on our website. This guide presents information about how to interpret and use MCAT scores in the context of holistic review.