Course-Mapping Tool for the MCAT® Exam FAQs

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A list of frequently asked questions to help pre-health advisors use the Course-Mapping Tool for the new MCAT® exam.

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Using the Tool

Although the Course-Mapping Tool was designed to be flexible in its use, its intended use is described below.

  • The tool should be used in conjunction with the tool "What's on the MCAT Exam?" so advisors can see the full picture and context of the foundational concepts, scientific inquiry and reasoning skills, content categories, and topics.
  • The tool should be posted on a shared drive, server or virtual location so all faculty and advisors are working off of one spreadsheet.
  • Advisors should enter typical premed courses in columns N-BK on the tab “Your Course-Mapping Tool” where topics are likely to be taught. As a guide, they may use the courses the "What's on the MCAT Exam?" lists in which undergraduate students at many colleges and universities learn about the topics and subtopics as well as known typical pre-med courses.
  • When viewing the spreadsheet on the “Your Course-Mapping Tool” tab, faculty may filter by course levels in columns G-M so they may view the topics identified by "What's on the MCAT Exam?" tool as possibly being taught in that course level i.e. view topics taught in a typical two-semester sequence of introductory biology.
    • Note that in some topics, the knowledge of the subtopics is at a different course level compared to its corresponding topic. These “exception” topics are shaded in orange and noted in the comment in each cell.
      • Nearly all topics have subtopics. To view the subtopics, click on the spreadsheet and place your cursor over the cell and the comment will appear.
      • The Scientific Inquiry and Reasoning Skills, foundational concepts, content categories, and topic columns all have comments in the cell which provide more information about each heading.
  • Faculty should review the topics and subtopics in assigned/designated course levels and mark an X in the corresponding cell indicating in which course that topic is taught.
    • If a topic is not fully taught or the corresponding subtopics are not taught in that course, faculty can make note of this by adding a comment in the cell.
    • Faculty may also add other courses if the topics are not taught in the courses listed. Courses may be added in columns N-BK.
  • Once an X is placed in one of the course columns, the cell will turn yellow and the cell in the corresponding row in column E (Topic taught at your school) will change from red to white and will say Yes instead of NO!
  • When all faculty have completed the mapping tool, advisors will be able to see any gaps in the curriculum (using the data in column E) to view what topics are not taught at their school.

The tool, an Excel spreadsheet, can be used with faculty to identify in what courses the topics on the new MCAT exam may or may not be taught.

  • Advisors can add a series of suggested courses at their school and ask faculty to indicate if the topics and associated subtopics in column D are taught in the courses listed in columns N-BK.
    • If a topic is not taught in the course suggested by an advisor but is taught in another course, the faculty may add the course to the spreadsheet in columns N-BK
    • If the topic is not fully taught or the corresponding subtopics (shown in the comments with each topic) are not taught in the course, faculty can make note of this by adding a comment in the cell.
  • When faculty have completed the spreadsheet, the advisor will be able to view from column E if the topic is not taught at the school.

The column headings correspond to the different sections of the MCAT2015 exam as indicated in the tool "What's on the MCAT Exam?" and the course mapping list. The headings are:

  • Skills: Scientific Inquiry and Reasoning Skills—the inquiry and reasoning skills that are required to solve scientific problems
  • Foundational Concept: the big ideas in the sciences that provide the foundation for learning in medical school
  • Content Category: the topics and subtopics that are needed to understand foundational concepts
  • Topic—the topics within the context of the content category which may be tested on the new MCAT exam
  • Topic taught at your school—Indicates if this topic is taught at your school. As the tool is completed, those topics which have been marked as taught in a course will change from Red to White and from NO! to Yes
  • Topic on Current MCAT—Indicates if this topic appeared on the old MCAT: Although the topic may have been on the content outlines for the current exam, it may be covered at a different level on the new MCAT exam. You must refer to the tool "What's on the MCAT Exam?" and the old exam content outlines for more details.
  • BIO—two-semester introductory sequence of biology
  • BC—first semester biochemistry
  • OC—two-semester sequence of organic chemistry
  • GC—two-semester sequence of general chemistry
  • PHY—two-semester sequence of introductory physics
  • PSY—one-semester of introductory psychology
  • SOC—one-semester of introductory sociology

The Course-Mapping Tool for the MCAT2015 Exam obtained its content from the tool
What’s on the MCAT Exam?.  It was developed to allow for a more interactive way to determine in what course certain topics are taught and if there are any gaps.  The tool should not be used exclusively but should be used in conjunction with the tool What’s on the MCAT Exam? to see the topics and information in context.

The AAMC compared the topic lists for the new MCAT exam with the content lists for the old MCAT exam and marked if a topic on the new MCAT exam was also a topic on the old exam. This information may be helpful for you to see how the exam has changed. However, this information should not be used alone in advising students what courses to take as a topic that was tested on the old MCAT exam may be asked at a different course level on the new MCAT exam. For instance, a topic that is tested on the old exam at the two-semester introduction to biology sequence level may be tested on the new MCAT exam at the first-semester biochemistry level.

For most topics, its subtopics are taught typically in the same course sequence as its corresponding topic. However, for some subtopics, the knowledge of the subtopic is at a different course level compared to its corresponding topic i.e. topic taught in two-semester sequence of introductory biology and the subtopic is taught at the first semester of biochemistry level. Those topics whose subtopics may be taught at a different level as identified by the "What's on the MCAT Exam" tool are shaded in orange.

The end goal of the tool is to develop a schedule for students on what courses they should take at your school to prepare for the new MCAT exam. The tool can identify a possible pre-med curriculum and identify any gaps (as indicated in column E) where topics are not currently taught in a course at your school.

The tool is only as good as the data entered and should not be used independent of the comprehensive list of content tested on the exam available on the What's on the MCAT Examtool. In order to be most accurate in mapping content to courses, the full topic list found in What's on the MCAT Exam should be used. Using the topic name alone may lead to inaccuracies or incomplete lists.
If advisors and faculty work off of multiple spreadsheets, be cautious about copying and pasting cells into a new spreadsheet as well as deleting columns or rows. The following should not be deleted:

  • All rows
  • Columns A-M

If information is accidentally deleted, we recommend you download a new spreadsheet from theAdvisor Hub.

In the key tab of the tool all eight entering medical school competencies from the SFFP report are listed. The competencies align with certain foundational concepts. Column B explains what foundational concepts align with what entering medical school competencies. For more information on the competencies, view the full report. 

Four scientific inquiry and reasoning skills are tested on the natural, social, and behavioral sciences sections. Although the skills tested are not tied to specific courses, there may be courses at your school that you would recommend students take to gain experience applying these skills. The Scientific Inquiry and Reasoning Skills are listed in rows 157-160 and courses can be entered in columns N-BK on the Your Course-Mapping Tool tab.

Yes. The tool was developed in Excel 2007 so if your computer supports Excel, the tool should function. If you need assistance, you can use the Help feature (the question mark in the upper-right hand corner) with Excel.

If you need assistance in using Excel, you can use the Help feature (the question mark in the upper-right hand corner).

Yes. Click on the Page Layout tab, click on the arrow under Page Setup, click on the Sheet tab, and then in the box next to comments, click “At end of sheet.” The comments should print at the end of the page.

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