August 20, 2003
Dear Pre-Med Advisor,
Pre-med students always have questions about the MCAT, and we hope that this brief letter contains some helpful information for you and your advisees.
The Blackout of 2003 that hit the Northeast affected some MCAT testing sites. As of this writing, the AAMC is preparing to schedule a re-testing as soon as possible for all students whose sites were closed due to the blackout; those examinees will be contacted directly by the AAMC with further information.
Overall, the August 2003 exam offered very few surprises and was comparable in difficulty to AAMC’s MCAT Practice Test 6R; but, as usual, different forms had varying difficulty levels for the subtests. We identified at least three test series—G, H, and K—with up to four forms in each. The Princeton Review’s course materials contained discussion and questions which helped to provide valuable confidence with, and practice for, the subject matter that appeared on the exam.
MCAT Section 1—Physical Sciences:
The passages and free-standing questions were pretty evenly split between G-Chem and Physics. Most of the G-Chem passages were reported as straightforward. Atomic structure, radioactivity, acid/base, and redox/electrochem were the most popular G-Chem topics this administration. The most popular Physics topics were kinematics, dynamics, energy and momentum, waves, and light. As usual, most of the questions were conceptual or required very simple math. With confidence, a mastery of the fundamentals, and POE (the ‘process of elimination’ technique), the passage questions could be successfully attacked. In addition, the free-standing questions were generally regarded as very fair.
MCAT Section 2—Verbal Reasoning:
All forms contained the usual nine passages, with passage lengths (about 70 lines)—and overall difficulty level—consistent with AAMC Practice Test 6R. Topics included literary criticism, political theory, ecology, history, anthropology, sociology, evolutionary biology, and film theory. In addition to the usual questions that relied on a firm grasp of the passage’s main idea, there were questions of the strengthen/weaken and retrieval variety; new information and inference questions were again very popular.
MCAT Section 4—Biological Sciences:
The split between Bio and O-Chem again favored Biology, and the free-standing questions leaned much more toward Biology than O-Chem and offered few surprises. The difficulty of the Biological Sciences section of this April’s MCAT was generally regarded as comparable to that of AAMC Practice Test 6R. The most popular Biology passage topics were gene expression, genetics, physiology, and cell biology. The O-Chem again looked intimidating, but the questions were generally considered fair. Multi-step syntheses of organic molecules and analysis of reaction mechanisms were again very popular, and a good understanding of molecular structure, stereochemistry, and functional groups was also important.
We hope that you and your students find this information helpful. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at 1-800-2REVIEW.
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