New Resources Help to Prepare Students for MCAT

March 9, 2015

The Medical College Admission Test, or MCAT, is changing for the first time in more than 20 years. This test, which thousands of pre-med students annually take as part of their application to medical school, now contains sections covering topics in psychology, sociology, and social psychology. The Association of American Medical Colleges, which administers the MCAT, says the new seven-hour test is “designed to help better prepare future physicians for the rapidly advancing and transforming healthcare system.” College of Arts and Sciences faculty members decided to create a set of academic resources to help NYIT students master the new material. The new MCAT will be administered for the first time next month. Associate Dean Dan Quigley explains the changes and new resources for students.

How can NYIT undergraduate students prepare for the changes?

Many of our students already in a pre-med program (BS/DO, Biology, etc) do not have enough free electives to add courses in these areas. In addition, the NYIT behavioral science faculty members examined the changes in the MCAT and realized that the topics covered were spread out over parts of three different courses. The students didn't need all three courses, but certain sections of all three.

What did the NYIT faculty team do to help students?

Last spring, Department of Behavioral Science Chair Maria Lapadula, Ph.D., consulted with three of faculty members: Blair Hoplight, Ph.D., Dina Karafantis, Ph.D., and Emily Restivo, Ph.D., all of whom had expertise in the topics covered in the new exam.  With support from Dean Roger Yu, Ph.D., the three spent the summer recording screen capture lectures using Camtasia (software for creating video tutorials) covering the topics. In addition to the e-lectures, the faculty provided PowerPoint slides and imbedded quizzes into each of the e-lectures. Once these were complete, we worked closely with Brian Maroldo and Arthur Krewat from IT to set up a Blackboard shell to house the materials and made it available to all students majoring in programs that might lead to medical school and who might be taking the MCAT exams. Lapadula recorded a welcome video that served as an invitation to make use of this "mini-MOOC" and to show students how to access it.

What does the final product look like?

We kept the Blackboard shell rather simple and straight forward.  There are three master folders, each with a series of e-lectures, PowerPoints, and quizzes in them.  Students find the link to the review course listed with all their other Blackboard courses once they log into MyNYIT.

Are there plans to follow through and see how this worked? If so, what are they?

We chose Blackboard as the home for this project so we could gather statistics on student use of the material in the review course. We can use that data when we learn how well students did on the new MCAT, particularly the sociology and psychology sections. We also plan to survey students once the tests are done for year to see what they thought. We'll take what we learn and make adjustments for next year.