MCAT frenzy

Some students blocked out of May 22 test date due to high demand

Some students planning to take the May 22 Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) found themselves blocked when they were unable to register due to heavy demand.

The MCAT is the graduate level entrance examination all prospective medical students have to take.

“MCAT officials underestimated demand for the May session, and seats were filled in most of the United States by the end of the day,” said Case Western Reserve University Director of Health Care Advising Steven Scherger.

“While MCAT officials are looking into the situation, early messages from them indicate that they are not considering additional test dates,” he added. “However they will be looking at where demand for the test is highest and whether they might need to establish additional testing sites for the May 22 test date.”

The reason for the increase in demand could be because of the new MCAT format, which began this month. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the organization that manages and provides the MCAT, the length of the MCAT will increase from approximately four hours to eight hours. The exam will also cover much more material, including topics in psychology and sociology.

Junior biochemistry major Hirsh Shah took the MCAT in January to avoid taking the revised test.

“January was the last month the old exam was available, so I chose a date as near to the end as possible so I could have more time to prepare,” said Shah.

Even though Shah took the exam in January, he still presumed that there might be a chance the number of test takers might exceed the available number of test slots.

“For the old MCAT, I registered for the January 2015 date all the way back in June 2014,” he added. “I had a gut feeling that seats were going to be taken up fast. It turned out that way. The AAMC had to add a fair amount of test dates at the last minute because of the extremely high demand for the old exam. Before they added the dates, there were reports of students having to fly over 5,000 miles to Guam because everything in the continental U.S. was full.”

Many students spend hundreds of hours studying for the MCAT, so not being able to take the exam might be devastating.

Luckily junior biology major Mario Cabello was able to register for the MCAT on May 22.

“I was able to register for the MCAT in my home country of Puerto Rico,” Cabello said. “I know of students who were not able to register for the May 22 spot, but I do not know of any student who couldn’t manage to get a spot in any of the other test dates.”

Cabello, however, feels that scheduling the MCAT is the least of his worries.

“The feeling that your future career depends on an exam and a couple of applications intimidates me far beyond anything else in my college years,” Cabello said. “Most universities have students working hard day and night with classes, homework and exams. I think that feeling stressed for applying to medical school is a universal feeling amongst pre-med students, including those who have a near perfect record as a student.”