In 2008, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the organization that administers the Medical College Admission Test, appointed an advisory board to recommend changes in the test. Although not scheduled to release their final report until 2012, the board has made some preliminary findings.
Past revisions to the test strengthened its ability to predict medical school grades, but it lacks a way to gauge the personal characteristics that make for a well-rounded physician. The board, which includes a Boston University MD/PhD student, suggests adding a new section on behavioral science to help students demonstrate knowledge of the social side of medicine. A revamped verbal section would emphasize ethics and cross-cultural competency.
The qualities of professionalism may be too ineffable to capture in a standardized test. Fortunately, the recommendations also call for expanding the qualitative elements of a medical school application. Taken together, the preliminary report suggests that preparing doctors is as much an art as it is a science.