- Professional Service
MCAT® Validity Research
From 2014 to 2023, the MCAT Validity Committee conducted research to evaluate the fairness, use, and predictive validity of the MCAT® exam.
The MCAT Validity Committee (MVC) was created nearly 10 years ago from a diverse pool of admissions professionals, educators, and prehealth advisors representing a broad range of medical school missions, curricula, institution types, and applicant pool characteristics. The MVC research program has followed multiple cohorts of medical students through graduation and studied how they did. Findings from this research have been turned into concrete, actionable resources to support schools in their admissions decision-making and student success. Learning from the MVC’s work will continue to drive development of resources to help students from sociodemographic groups underrepresented in medicine prepare for and succeed in medical school.
MVC Research Areas
Diversity, Fairness, and Academic Preparation
Research on diversity, fairness, and academic preparation aims to understand the examinees’ demographic characteristics, test preparation, test-taking behavior, and test scores in years before and after the introduction of the new MCAT exam. Results are used to inform and guide the AAMC's development and dissemination of free and low-cost test preparation information and resources to all aspirants, especially those who are educationally- and socioeconomically-disadvantaged.
- Diversity of aspiring physicians: Is the demographic diversity of individuals who take the new MCAT exam the same as or greater than those who took the old MCAT exam?
- Fairness in predicting success: Will scores from the new exam predict academic performance equally well for students from different sociodemographic backgrounds?
- Increased breadth of academic preparation: Will more individuals learn about psychology, sociology, and biochemistry in preparation for the MCAT exam? Will more individuals with coursework outside of the natural sciences (e.g., ethics, social justice, humanities, behavioral and social sciences) apply to medical school?
Research on admissions decision-making aims to understand how admissions officers and their committees use the new MCAT scores in the admissions process. Results are used to develop resources to ensure that admissions officers and their committees can use MCAT scores in good and balanced ways in medical school admissions.
- Acceptance of applicants with moderate scores: Will medical schools increase the percentage of applicants with total scores in the middle of the MCAT score scale who are invited to interview?
- Use of section scores: Will admissions committees use information about applicants’ strengths and weaknesses from the new MCAT score reports to identify applicants who best fit their academic missions and goals?
Predicting Academic Performance
Research on predicting academic performance aims to understand how well medical students’ MCAT scores predict their academic performance at different stages of their undergraduate medical education. Results provide evidence about how well scores on the new MCAT exam predict medical students’ academic performance at different stages of their undergraduate medical education and can help admissions officers and their committees make good use of MCAT scores and other application information in admissions decisions.
- Comparing predictive validity of the old and new exams: Do scores from the new exam correlate with the academic performance throughout medical school as well as or better than scores from the old exam?
- Examining the predictive validity of the newest test section: Will scores from the PSBB section correlate with performance in medical school courses that call on the behavioral and social sciences better than other sections of the exam?
- Comparing the predictive validity of the new exam to other predictors: Do scores from the new exam add value to the academic information applicants already provide about themselves through applications?
Institutions Participating in MCAT Validity Research
Beginning in 2012, representatives from medical schools in the United States and Canada came together to study the meaning and value of scores from the Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior section of the MCAT exam. Their early work laid the foundation for the work of the AAMC's MCAT Validity Committee (MVC), a research collaborative led by representatives from medical schools and prehealth advisors from undergraduate institutions to evaluate the validity, fairness, impact, and use of scores from the MCAT exam introduced in 2015.
The MVC included admissions and student affairs officers, education deans, and researchers from medical schools, as well as prehealth advisors in current and previous leadership positions of the National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions. The participating schools were selected from 65 institutions across North America that volunteered to participate in the MCAT validity research. The validity schools represented a wide range of institutional missions, geographic regions, and institution types (public or private). They were also diverse with respect to their applicant pool sizes and characteristics, curricula, instruction, and grading systems.
The institutions in the United States and Canada with representatives who participated in these early research initiatives and/or on the MVC are shown below.
- Boston University Aram V. Chobanian & Edward Avedisan School of Medicine
- Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons
- East Tennessee State University James H. Quillen College of Medicine
- Meharry Medical College School of Medicine
- Memorial University of Newfoundland Faculty of Medicine
- Morehouse School of Medicine
- Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
- Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
- Saint Louis University School of Medicine
- Stanford University School of Medicine
- The Ohio State University School of Medicine
- University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine
- Tulane University School of Medicine
- University of Arizona College of Medicine Tucson
- University of Calgary Cumming School of Medicine
- University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine
- University of Central Florida College of Medicine
- University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago
- University of Mississippi Medical Center School of Medicine
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine
- Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences F. Edward Herbert School of Medicine
- Prehealth advisors from Colgate University, the University of Hawaii, Meredith College, and Union College also participated in the the MCAT Validity Committee.
MVC Research Timeline
The MCAT Validity Research spanned approximately 10 years (from 2014 to 2023). The timeline for the study will support the evaluation of the new MCAT exam from its introduction to examinees in 2015, to the first use of MCAT scores in selecting students for the 2016 entering class, to the performance of these entering students, as well as students entering in 2017, from entry through graduation.
- 2017 - Medical School Admissions: Survey (Impact of new exam on admissions decision making) / Medical Student: Outcomes (Association of MCAT scores with performance in first year of medical school)
- 2018 - Medical Student: Outcomes (Association of MCAT scores with performance in second year of medical school)
- 2019 - Medical Student: Outcomes (Association of MCAT scores with USMLE Step 1 performance)
- 2020 - Medical Student: Outcomes (Association of MCAT scores with clerkship performance)
- 2021 - Medical Student: Outcomes (Association of MCAT scores with USMLE Step 2 CK performance and graduation in 4 years)
- 2022 - Medical Student: Outcomes (Association of MCAT scores with graduation in 5 years)
MCAT Validity Publications
The Validity of MCAT Scores in Predicting Students’ Performance and Progress in Medical School: Results from a Multisite Study (May 2022)
Read the latest article published by the AAMC MCAT Validity Committee on their research to examine the predictive validity of MCAT scores and undergraduate GPAs for performance in preclerkship and clerkship courses, on USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK examinations, and students’ progress in medical school.
Academic Medicine Collection (2020) (PDF)
Read research articles published by the AAMC MCAT Validity Committee on their research to evaluate the fairness, use, and predictive validity of the MCAT exam introduced in 2015.
MCAT Validity Report 2020 (PDF)
Read the latest findings on how well MCAT scores and other academic metrics predict students’ performance throughout medical school, from entry to graduation. The updated findings in this report show for the first time the validity of MCAT scores in predicting medical students’ Step 2 CK performance and graduation in four years.
Academic Medicine Collection (2013) (PDF)
This collection of articles describes the research that supports the design of the new MCAT exam launched in 2015.
MCAT Validity Research (PDF)
This resource describes the MCAT validity research agenda to evaluate the fairness, use, impact, and predictive validity of the new MCAT exam. It includes a comprehensive overview of the research agenda, objectives, timeline for data collection and release, and ways you and your committee can stay up-to-date.
Validity Research on the Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior Section (PDF)
The addition of the Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior section of the new MCAT exam underscores the important roles of behavioral and sociocultural factors in health and illness. Results from early research on this section provide admissions officers with data that show how this section adds value to the medical student selection process.
Annotated Bibliography of MCAT® Research
The bibliography presents a list of publications and presentations about research on the MCAT® exam since 1987. Among the areas explored are the relationship between performance on the test and performance at difference stages of medical education, test validity, reliability and equating issues, medical college selection procedures, and issues related to acceptance to medical school.