What does the MCAT have to do w/ being a Doctor?

Oh, one little thing - before I moount my soapbox - Kaplan & TPR, please don’t make the erroneous assumption that they are tutors in the sense of topical preparation. They are excellent resources in the area of test preparation & familiarization; however, they do not assume the responsiblity of subject tutoring…although they frequently have lines on persons who can do a superb job in subject tutoring too. Test prep is an entirely different animal in that it focuses on how best to attact the specific style of exam that the MCAT is & repeatedly exposes you to those formats through mock exams & volumes of MCAT-styled study questions.
Success on the MCAT depends on much much more than your ability to regurgitate factoids. In fact, in my humble opinion, the biggest mistake people make in preparing for the MCAT is to do so as if it were a factual recall exam, just as the preponderance of all of our other exams are. The MCAT does require a significant element of factual recall; however, the emphasis is on your capacity to read & extract information couple it with your fund of knowledge & apply this in such a way that directs you to the correct answer. Typically, the passages provide an excess of detail that were you to attempt to slog through it all, you would never complete the exam.
The challenge of the MCAT goes far beyond retention of a ludicrous volume of factoids. I used to think, as does most everyone, that this exam was as useless as it could be & had little to do with being a doctor. In fact, the actual material you are being tested upon has minimal to do with the day-to-day goings on of a physician. However, the way the exam makes you take the knowledge you possess, gathered data & requires you to draw logic-driven conclusions from this information is what a physician does all day long (and all night if you are on call). The data gathering, data filtering & application of logic filtered through experience is a critical element of success as a physician.

Yeah, I’d have to agree w/Dave. If I sat down with the MCAT now I’m sure I’d do way worse than I did six years ago - but you know what, I’d probably do BETTER than one would expect given my distance from the basic science courses that are the source of the “factoid” aspects of the MCAT, and that’s because what I do every day is pull in a bunch of information, much of which is unfamiliar to me, quickly digest it, synthesize it, and make conclusions and plans from it.
In other words, the MCAT is trying to assess how you think. That is a tall order for any test, but from this side of the fence, I have to say that, first of all, it’s a good thing to TRY and do, and secondly, I think it does a better job than one would expect.
I knew a doctor who liked to say that the MCAT was “the worst test I ever took.” In his opinion, the various licensure boards and certification exams weren’t nearly as bad. At the time I thought he was kidding me although I tried to take heart from the statement - now I have to say I see his point. Although in my personal experience, my biochem exams were worse.

Hi Folks,
I will agree with what had been said above. The MCAT is definitely NOT a test of regurgitation. To go into this important exam believing that you can memorize every little fact and ace this test is a huge mistake. Rather the MCAT is a test of how you solve problems. Can you take your knowledge from your pre-med courses and solve problems.
This test actually has more to do with how you approach a patient than actually testing medical factoids. Every patient presents with a problem (or problems) and it is up to you, as the physician, to figure out how to solve them. With practice (and this is what Kaplan and TPR offer) you can get used to this type of test. You solve the problem that is presented to you.
Most undergraduates have little experience in actual problem-solving. This is why many people just cannot seem to get a handle on the MCAT the first time through. Most undergraduate coursework asks for regurgitation of memorized facts (totally the opposite of the MCAT).
After making sure that you have a solid fund of knowledge, your next task is to practice problem-solving to the point that no matter what you are asked, you have the confidence to figure out the answer. This is what is commonly phrased as “owning the test”. No matter what you are confronted with, you systematically assess the situation and calmly figure out what you need. Even if you narrow the solutions down to one or two answers, you at least have a 50% chance of getting the question right.
If I could narrow all of my diagnoses down to just two things, I would be a happy physician and more efficient too. So, don’t look at the MCAT at torture but a chance to look at what you will be doing for the rest of your life as a physician. The interesting thing is that patients don’t come with answer books!