Medical School Application Process
Different types of professional schools require a specific test for admission. The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) for medical, osteopathic, podiatric and some veterinary schools, the Dental Admission Test (DAT), Optometry Admission Test (OAT), and the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) are the major ones. There are some schools (such as veterinary medicine) that also might require you to take the Graduate Records Exam (GRE). These tests are a nationally administered general analysis of your academic achievement and intellectual ability. At the time that you take an admission test, please request that a copy of your scores be sent to the Coordinator of Pre-Professional Health Advising at Xavier University, so that we can be better informed of all aspects of your application. The DAT and the GRE are now administered on computer with same day scoring results. In 2007 the MCAT is also now only available as a computer-based test with 22 possible testing sessions a year. Scores for the 2007 MCAT are also reported in 30 days, instead of 60 days. Please refer to the official MCAT web site for a schedule of testing dates, times and more information about the computerized test.
Standardized admissions tests are usually taken in the spring of the junior year, and registration information is available online at each test's official web site. The Coordinator of Pre-Professional Health Advising can help you find out more information and refer you to the appropriate online resources. Most of the tests have a registration deadline at least a month before the test is administered, so it is important to get your registration completed in a timely manner. Postponing the test to the late summer/fall of the junior year should only be done in very unusual circumstances, since it postpones consideration of your application to a very busy time for admission committees.
Each of these tests covers science knowledge in the areas of biology, chemistry, and physics, as well as the application of this information to problem solving. This content is usually covered in General Biology and General Zoology, General and Organic Chemistry and College Physics. Reading comprehension and reasoning skills are also examined. Each test may include still other areas of particular importance to the profession. The DAT, for example, has no physics section, but contains a component devoted to perceptual motor ability that deals with two and three dimensional problem solving.
You will, of course want to be as well prepared for these tests as possible. Doing well will verify your good grades or help counteract mediocre grades. There is nothing that can take the place of three (or more) years of good study habits, but early in your junior year you should undertake a serious and thorough review of the subject covered by the test of your health profession. Books can be purchased that claim to give adequate preparation, but you must be warned that not all of them contain relevant subject matter or test format. More expensive commercial review courses provide structured organization and a timetable for review, but also must be scrutinized for their value. Practice tests, whether part of a formal review course or not, are generally considered to be worth your while. No matter how you choose to prepare yourself, the bottom line is how much effort you put into your test preparation.
If you do not do well on the test, it can be repeated in late summer/early fall. This is only suggested for those who are certain that they can do significantly better the second time. Two sets of low scores are very difficult for an admissions committee to overlook.