MCAT APRIL 2004

I was curious how the scoring goes according to the version of test you are given. For me it was “ag”. Also how does this relate to the tests that we all took 3r-7r for practice. What version of practice test do they release?

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I was curious how the scoring goes according to the version of test you are given. For me it was “ag”. Also how does this relate to the tests that we all took 3r-7r for practice. What version of practice test do they release?


Keith, in a previous life I worked for an agency that gave a standardized certification exam, and at one time I sorta understood how they “standardize” among questions. However, psychometrics was never my strong suit and so at this point I couldn’t explain it on a bet. Just know that they do a LOT of number-crunching and massaging. The form designation means that your particular form contained a specific set of passages. However, people with other forms had SOME of those same passages - just not the exact same set. Undoubtedly some people had a form that contained none of the same passages you had, but I think it’s safe to say that you probably had one passage in common, anyway, with many if not most other test-takers. So part of the number-crunching is to pull out the performance on a particular passage by all candidates, not just form XZ. In other words, your score isn’t form-dependent.
I am pretty sure the MCAT is not “graded on a curve,” but instead is “criterion-referenced,” which means that each question (possibly each passage) has a difficulty rating, and your performance is held up against these difficulty ratings (it’s more impressive to get the hardest questions right, essentially). Damn I wish I could explain this better, but instead will quote Bill Murray in Ghostbusters: "It’s technical - just one of our little toys."
Your second question: I have no idea how they pick what to release!
Finally, relax! and don’t think about it any more. They’ve fine-tuned the MCAT scoring process over a long time and it’s considered to be an industry standard - a lot of Ph.D.s spend lots of time making sure that all 25,000 of you get scored fairly and accurately. Honest.

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I am pretty sure the MCAT is not “graded on a curve,” but instead is “criterion-referenced,” which means that each question (possibly each passage) has a difficulty rating, and your performance is held up against these difficulty ratings (it’s more impressive to get the hardest questions right, essentially).


Howdy Mary!
FWIW, I understood the MCAT to be norm-referenced as opposed to criterion referenced. The key with criterion referencing is that there is an objective (criterion) being assessed. If every student taking the test gets that question correct, then they will all get the highest score (assuming a test of one question, of course). Norm referencing gets your raw score and plots it agains the raw scores of everyone else who took the same version of the test at the same time. If all goes well, the resulting graph should be the beloved normal distribution curve. The average is then determined at arbitrarily set at a certain score (say, 24). The remaining scores are determined by their standard deviation from that average. At least, that’s the way I understood it.
Take care,
Jeff

Thanks for the input ! There was a great difference in the degree of difficuty between the practice aamc exams and the actual one I just took. I hope my scores remain constant with the practice exams…

Jeff, that sounds right to me, and makes sense. See, I knew someone could explain it better than me.





Keith, I had access to far fewer practice AAMC (yeah, sonny, that was back in the dark ages, why, we could send our AMCAS application in on paper!)… but FWIW my AAMC scores were VERY close to my actual scores. How pathetic that I will probably always remember them, eh?

Mary, apparently some of that psychometrics stuff I had to learn way back when stuck (unlike most of the medicine I learned during the first two years).
Keith, the thing to keep in mind about the MCAT (and pretty much all exams from now on for you, especially USMLE) is that the exam is specifically designed to kick your ass. Literally. Especially the USMLE. Remember that their goal is to get a normal distribution of scores. Also remember that there is a significant selection bias involved in determining who will be taking these tests (pretty much the best of the best test takers). In order to get a curve that dosen’t have a HUGE right shift they need many, many damn near unanswereable questions.
In other words, just take solice in the fact that the test was that hard for everyone. The mantra that I kept repeating over and over is that I don’t have to outrun the bear, I just have to outrun the slowest runner in the bunch. Not a very charitable viewpoint but then these exams aren’t exactly designed to foster peace, love and harmony either.
Take care and good luck!
Jeff

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The mantra that I kept repeating over and over is that I don’t have to outrun the bear, I just have to outrun the slowest runner in the bunch. Not a very charitable viewpoint but then these exams aren’t exactly designed to foster peace, love and harmony either.


That is so beautiful & poignant that it simply needed to be posted again!