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Extra Time During MCAT Linked to Less Success in Med School

No impact on medical school admission rate, but lower rate of passing Step examinations

WEDNESDAY, June 10, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Medical school applicants with Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) scores obtained with extra test administration time have lower rates of success in medical schools, according to a study published in the June 9 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Cynthia A. Searcy, Ph.D., from the Association of American Medical Colleges in Washington, D.C., and colleagues conducted a retrospective study involving U.S. medical school applicants. Participants were applicants for the 2011 to 2013 entering classes who reported MCAT scores obtained with standard time (133,962 students) versus extra time (435 students), and students who matriculated from 2000 to 2004 and obtained MCAT scores with standard time (76,262 students) versus extra time (449 students).

The researchers found that acceptance rates did not differ significantly for those with MCAT scores obtained with standard (44.5 percent) or extra time (43.9 percent). The rate of passing the United States Medical Licensing Examination Step examinations on first attempt was significantly lower for students who tested with extra time. Students who tested with extra time also graduated from medical school at significantly lower rates (within four to eight years after matriculation). After controlling for MCAT scores and undergraduate grade point averages, these differences persisted.

“These findings raise questions about the types of learning environments and support systems needed by students who test with extra time on the MCAT to enable them to succeed in medical school,” the authors write.

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