Scientific Inquiry and Reasoning Skills Intro
It's easy enough to memorize a chart using all the mnemonic devices you know. It's simple to recall scientific information and spit it out on a multiple-choice exam. It's something else entirely to reason, apply, analyze and evaluate, which are skills that you'll need to be able to demonstrate in med school. Heck! Forget medical school; these skills are important when you're actually in practice as a physician (which is the goal, right?) Scientists from every arena use these kinds of skills daily, so it's natural that the AAMC would want you to be able to showcase these skills, not just the content, on the MCAT 2015.
The MCAT 2015 Tests Two Things:
- What you know
- How you can use that knowledge
The "What you know" portion of the exam comes from the content associated with four separate test sections:
- Biological and Biochemical
Foundations of Living Systems
- Chemical and Physical
Foundations of Living Systems,
- Psychological, Social and Biological
Foundations of Behavior
- Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills.
The "How you can use that knowledge" portion comes from the scientific inquiry and reasoning skills you've picked up along the way in your undergraduate pre-med work. *Note: Although there are four test sections, only the science sections assess the skills mentioned here. The Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section assesses a completely different set of skills. Get more information about them by clicking the link above.
Why Scientific Inquiry and Reasoning Skills?
Demonstrating the Scientific Inquiry and Reasoning Skills allows you to display your understanding of scientific concepts, your ability to use scientific principles for problem-solving, and your skill with the usage of scientific data and methods. These are the four major categories of skills tested:
- Skill 1: Knowledge of Scientific Concepts and Principles
- Skill 2: Scientific Reasoning and Problem Solving
- Skill 3: Reasoning about the Design and Execution of Research
- Skill 4: Data-Based and Statistical Reasoning
The Usage of the Scientific Inquiry and Reasoning Skills
These skills will be tested throughout the three science sections. (The Critical Analysis test section uses a different, separate set of skills.) You will not be given sets of questions underneath each skill, unfortunately. That would be nice for testing strategy purposes! Instead, the questions that assess each skill will be scattered throughout the content of the exam, so each Foundational Concept will be tested using all four of the scientific skills.
Scientific Inquiry and Reasoning Skills Wrap-Up
Click the links for each of the skills above to get more information about what you'll be required to demo on the MCAT 2015. You'll see a sample question and specific abilities necessary under each heading. Then, get practicing. Although you've already used these skills in your undergraduate work, expressing them on a standardized exam is much different! Plan at least six months ahead of your test date so you can score the highest you possibly can.