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Premedical Office
Xavier University
1 Drexel Drive
Box 120C
New Orleans, LA 70125

Full-Time Staff
Quo Vadis Maria Webster, MA, LPC
Premedical Adviser
xupremed@yahoo.com
(504) - 520-7437
Part-Time Staff
 
JW Carmichael, Jr.
Director of Premed Program
Professor of Chemistry
 
 
 
 

 

Premed

How to Prepare for the MCAT, DAT, etc. (updated 7/23/13)

This document is intended to provide basic information about the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), the Dental Admission Test (DAT), and how best to prepare for those exams. It is organized around questions typically asked by premedical and predental students at Xavier. Information regarding other admission tests is also included in this document.

Which schools require an admission test? Almost all of them!! The following is a brief list of different professional schools followed by the different tests required for entry into each.

  • Medical (M.D.)--Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), owned by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and administered by Thomson Prometric
  • Medical (D.O.)--Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)
  • Dental--Dental Admission Test (DAT)
  • Veterinary Medicine--MCAT or GRE (check with individual schools to see which test is accepted)
  • Optometry--Optometry Admission Test (OAT)
  • Podiatry--Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)
  • Public Health--GRE or MCAT (check with individual schools to see which test is accepted)
  • Graduate School--Graduate Record Exam (GRE)

What Is Covered on the Exams? The following are brief overviews of the DAT and MCAT (the two tests of most interest to XU students). The OAT is similar to the DAT. Websites which provide more detailed information about these tests (as well as the the DAT and the MCAT) are included in this document. NOTE: The MCAT was recently revised and future administrations of the test are in the process of being changed. Please go to https://www.aamc.org/students/applying/mcat/ for more details.

  • MCAT (Currently Administered): 4 Parts [Total "seated" time for MCAT (including tutorial & breaks) is 5 hours and 10 minutes]
    • [1]Biological Sciences (52 questions from General Biology and Organic Chemistry), 70 minutes,
    • [2]Physical Sciences (52 questions from General Chemistry and General Physics), 70 minutes,
    • [3]Verbal Reasoning (40 questions drawn from humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Designed to examine students' abilities to comprehend, reason, and think critically), 60 minutes, and
    • [4]Trial Section (optional; test out questions for future MCAT), 35 minutes.
  • MCAT (future administrations beginning in 2015): There will be four parts to the 2015 MCAT and the currently proposed breakdown is as follows...
    • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems (67 questions from General Biology, Biochemistry I, Organic Chemistry, and General Chemistry), 95 minutes,
    • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems (67 questions from General Chemistry, Biochemistry I, General Physics, Organic Chemistry, General Biology), 95 minutes,
    • Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior (67 questions from Introductory Psychology, Introductory Sociology, and General Biology), 95 minutes, and
    • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (60 questions from a wide range of disciplines in the social sciences and humanities), 90 minutes.
  • DAT: 4 Parts [Total "seated" time for DAT (including tutorial, breaks, and survey) is 5 hours]
    • [1] Natural Sciences (40 questions from General Biology, 30 from General Chemistry, 30 from Organic Chemistry), 90 minutes,
    • [2] Quant. Reasoning (40 math and applied math problems), 45 minutes,
    • [3] Reading Comprehension (3 reading passages on various topics with 50 questions total), 60 minutes, and
    • [4] Perceptual Ability (90 items to test spatial visualization skills and ability to interpret 2-D representations of 3-D objects), 60 minutes.

How Are The Exams Scored?

  • MCAT: Three scores are currently reported on the MCAT for each of the three separate sections (FYI, a fourth section---the Writing Sample---was removed from the test beginning in 2013; it has been temporarily replaced with the unscored Trial Section in preparation for MCAT2015). The three sections are scored on scale between 1 (lowest) and 15 (highest) with a recent national average among test-takers between "8" and "9". Past experience has indicated that anything lower than a "6" in any area will likely keep you out no matter how high your grades are. MCAT and GPA ranges for students accepted into allopathic (M.D.) medical schools can be found in the most recent edition of the Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR), a publication from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). A copy of the current MSAR is available for review in the Premed Office. You should note that the number of applications to medical school has increased dramatically in the past few years, a factor which seems to be translating into the need for higher MCAT scores to get in. Students who wish to receive feedback on their scores from the Premedical Office should be sure to release their scores to XU's Premedical Adviser when asked to do so during the MCAT registration process. Go to https://www.aamc.org/students/applying/mcat/ for details regarding the MCAT and MCAT Exam Statistics. Go to https://www.aamc.org/data/facts/ to view comprehensive data on U.S. allopathic (M.D.) medical school applicants and matriculants.
  • DAT: Five scores are reported for the DAT, one for each of the four areas tested (above) as well as the Total Science score for the science sections. Each score is based on a scale of 1-30 with "17" being average. Generally, a "14" on each section is the absolute minimum needed to gain acceptance into dental school. In addition, the Total Science score should be no lower than 16 to be considered for acceptance into dental school. DAT and GPA ranges for matriculants at each dental school in the U.S. can be found in ADEA Official Guide to Dental Schools, a publication from the American Dental Education Association (ADEA). A copy of the current publication is available for review in the Premed Office. Students who wish to receive feedback on their scores from the Premedical Office should be sure to release their scores to XU's Premedical Adviser when asked to do so during the DAT registration process.


EXTRA INFO ABOUT THE MCAT:

The MCAT is VERY difficult because, unlike most other tests college students encounter, it is designed to test one's ability to a) extract pertinent from extraneous information and b) make inferences when given incomplete data to arrive at the BEST answer out of four seemingly plausible answer choices. It is designed this way because physicians constantly face similar circumstances when dealing with patients. Thus, we sometimes see students who have made good grades in science courses and did well on the usual, more straight-forward type of exams, have difficulty scoring well on the MCAT because even the science sections are based on READING COMPREHENSION AND CRITICAL THINKING. As a result of this, we recommend that XU students start preparing for the MCAT in their freshman year by a) taking a practice version of the Verbal Reasoning/Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section (which doesn't depend on content which they may not yet have had) and b) read, read, read while at XU so they improve their ability to comprehend and critically analyze complex material. NOTE: WE ARE NOT TALKING ABOUT READING SCIENCE TEXTBOOKS. WE MEAN NOVELS, MAGAZINES, etc. (e.g. Newsweek, The Economist, Time) and other resources that draw from a variety of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences (e.g. art, history, ethics, geography, psychology, religion, pop culture, etc.). The Princeton Review recommends these books for supplemental reading to prepare for the Verbal Reasoning section of the MCAT. Additionally, students who plan on taking the MCAT are encouraged to routinely complete practice passages in Verbal Reasoning/Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills beginning freshman year.


How Much Does It Cost to Register for the MCAT/DAT? The current registration fee to take the MCAT is $270. The current registration fee to take the DAT is $385. Students may who are experiencing severe financial hardship may be eligible to apply for fee waivers to help defray the cost of taking these admission tests.

How Many Times Can You Take the MCAT? The MCAT, a computerized test, is currently offered a number of times per year at approved testing sites. Students are allowed to take the test no more than three (3) times per year. Be advised, however, that if you take it more than twice, admissions committees may wonder whether or not you have what it takes to perform well on the MCAT and thus medical licensure exams.. Students should not take the MCAT on a whim just to "see" how they are going to perform. The MCAT must be taken seriously as if you have only one shot at taking it. If you do need to retake the MCAT, it is IMPERATIVE that you study very hard so that you improve your scores (and don't go down in any section from your previous test administration). Multiple test scores are interpreted differently by each medical school. Some schools evaluate only the most recent scores; others evaluate all scores, noting improvement (and/or a decrease in scores); and others may choose to review MCAT scores where the student scored highest in an individual section OR the MCAT with the highest composite score.

How Many Times Can You Take the DAT? The DAT is a computer-based test that is offered year round at approved testing sites. Although you can register to take the DAT as many times as you want, taking it more than twice makes one wonder if you actually have what it takes to make it through the rigorous dental school curriculum. Further, you must wait 90 days from your most recent test administration to retake the DAT. If you need to retake the DAT after having already taken the test three or more times, you must apply for permission to retake.

When Should A Student Take the MCAT for the 1st Time? Generally, in the Spring (i.e. April or May) of your junior year. You should definitely plan to review for the test and take a lighter load (no more than 14 semester hours) that semester so you have time to study for it. In addition, you should definitely plan to participate in an MCAT review course. Kaplan and Princeton MCAT reviews are offered on XU's campus in the Spring at a discounted rate for Xavier students. The Premedical Office does not endorse one review over another. As the consumer, YOU should take the time to learn as much as possible about ALL of your review options to determine which one is best for you. FYI, what works for one student in terms of MCAT prep may not necessarily work for another.

When Should A Student Take the DAT for the 1st Time? In the spring of your junior year OR the summer between your junior and senior year (preferably between April-June).

When Should A Student Take the MCAT the 2nd Time (if needed)? The fall semester (August/September) of your senior year. Please note that this is also the final chance to take it for entry into the following year's class. NOTE: Please check with the medical schools to which you are applying to make sure September MCAT scores are accepted.

When Should A Student Take the DAT the 2nd Time (if needed)? The fall semester of your senior year. NOTE: Please check with the dental schools to which you are applying to inquire about DAT score deadlines.

How to Study for the MCAT or DAT?

  • To study for the DAT: The science sections of the DAT are similar in format to the tests you take in college science courses. Therefore, you can probably study for them alone in the same way you study for science classes. Our recommended materials are:
    • [1] Your class notes from General Biology, General Chemistry, and Organic Chemistry,
    • [2] The latest edition of the Kaplan Review's Basic Prep Option for the DAT available at www.kaptest.com or check Barnes and Noble at www.bn.com.
    • [3] Dental Admissions Test Preparation and Registration information (including sample DAT) available at http://www.ada.org/dat.aspx.
    • [4] Sample Tests & Study Guide for the Computerized DAT Top Score Pro for the Dental Admission Test by ScholarWare. For more information, go to www.scholarware.com.
    • [5] Several Xavier students have reported that various online video series, which review MCAT, DAT, and OAT content, have been good supplemental tools for test preparation. Examples are Coursesaver at http://www.coursesaver.com/index.php and Khan Academy at http://www.khanacademy.org/.
  • To study for the MCAT: The MCAT is not like tests you take in college. It requires much more reading and interpretation than does the typical college science test. You definitely need to study for it in a structured way. We believe the best way to study is to enroll in an MCAT review course such as the Kaplan, Princeton, or Examkrackers Review (Kaplan and Princeton are both held on XU's campus January-March at a DISCOUNTED rate) and use their materials, classroom instruction, and studying outside of the review course. Some students do opt to study on their own for the MCAT, and some have been successful doing so. However, keep in mind that the MCAT is a HIGH STAKES test, and you should commit to a very structured and disciplined regimen for test preparation whether you are enrolled in a review course or not. Here are some study materials you should consider utilizing outside of your review class:
    • [1] Your class notes from General Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and General Physics and other courses related to MCAT content.
    • [2] Review the "Preparing for the MCAT Exam" page at https://www.aamc.org/students/applying/mcat/preparing/ for details regarding MCAT content areas, practice test resources, etc.
    • [3] 10 Actual, Official LSAT PrepTests, a publication of the Law School Admission Council. The Reading Comprehension section can be used as practice for the verbal reasoning/critical analysis portion of the MCAT. You may purchase the book from Barnes and Noble or any major bookstore. NOTE: You can begin preparing for Verbal Reasoning/Critical Analysis & Reasoning Skills well BEFORE junior year!!!
    • [4] MCAT Practice Tests. They are available at http://www.aamc.org/students/mcat/. One full-length MCAT is available for FREE; you may purchase access to additional tests.
    • [5] Examkrackers 101 Passages in MCAT Verbal Reasoning. It is available available at https://www.examkrackers.com/store/ or any major bookstore. NOTE: You can begin preparing for Verbal Reasoning/Critical Analysis & Reasoning Skills well BEFORE junior year!!!
    • [6] Several Xavier students have reported that various online video series, which review MCAT, DAT, and OAT content, have been good supplemental tools for test preparation. Examples are Coursesaver at http://www.coursesaver.com/index.php and Khan Academy at http://www.khanacademy.org/.
    • [7] Read books listed on the Princeton Review's Hyperlearning MCAT: Verbal Reasoning Suggested Supplemental Reading List .
  • To study for the OAT: This test similar to the DAT. You can probably study on your own using the materials listed above for the DAT and any OAT-specific materials available from review courses or testing agencies. Please visit www.opted.org for more information regarding the Optometry Admission Test (OAT). You might also utilize the computerized testing preparation software available at www.scholarware.com . NOTE: A statistics course is usually REQUIRED for application to optometry school. Make sure you enroll in such a course to satisfy this requirement before applying.
  • To study for the GRE:Visit the GradStar Office at XU or go to www.gre.org.

Where can a student get additional information about the MCAT Review options available in New Orleans?

  • The Kaplan Review Testing Center: Call 504-866-TEST(8378) or visit www.kaptest.com. The Kaplan MCAT Review is usually offered during the Spring semester at Xavier (at a reduced cost).
  • The Princeton Review Testing Center: Call 1-800-2REVIEW x1400 or www.princetonreview.com. The Princeton MCAT Review is usually offered during the Spring semester at Xavier (at a reduced cost).
  • Examkrackers MCAT Preparation: Call 1-888-572-2536 or http://www.examkrackers.com/MCAT/. Examkrackers is currently NOT offered on XU's Campus at a reduced course, although representatives sometimes visit XU to share course information.
 
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