By Abby Weingarten
New College will offer a free Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) prep course for full academic credit this fall, making it the only college in the State University System of Florida to do so.
Presented by New College’s Center for Career Engagement and Opportunity (CEO), the “MCAT Essentials Live Online” course is designed to prepare pre-medical students for the rigorous undertaking of successfully completing the MCAT exam with a competitive score.
“This course is showing the commitment New College has for students’ career planning and preparation. Nowhere else in the state can you take a MCAT preparation course, for credit and at no additional cost,” said Dwayne Peterson, the director of the CEO. “Having an opportunity like this almost guarantees that our pre-medical students are going to score higher, increasing the competitiveness of their medical school applications.”
The MCAT is a standardized, computer-based, multiple-choice test that has been a part of the medical school admissions process for more than 90 years. Upwards of 85,000 students take the exam each year, and nearly all medical schools in the United States require MCAT scores. For New College’s course, a contracted Princeton Review instructor (and test expert) will teach up to 10 students online.
“If a student took this course on their own, it would cost them about $2,000. It’s 72 hours of instruction in preparation for the exam (three hours twice a week),” Peterson said.
The course provides students with textbooks, access to up to 15 practice tests, as well as a year of access to an online MCAT preparation portal (which contains hundreds of on-demand videos and drills, diagnostic tools that analyze testing strengths and weaknesses, and detailed score reports).
Lisandra Jimenez, assistant director and career coach for the CEO, designed New College’s MCAT course.
“We’ve seen an increase in interest in the medical field, and this is one way we can support students and help them continue on to medical school—particularly students who are not able to afford these kinds of prep courses on their own,” Jimenez said. “The medical school curriculum is extremely rigorous, and having a high MCAT score shows medical schools that students can succeed once admitted.”
To join the course, students must have completed several prerequisites, including Foundations of Biology I and II, General Chemistry I and II, as well as two of the following courses: Organic Chemistry I, Physics I, Biochemistry or Cell Biology (or permission from the instructor). Preference will be given to third-year students with these credentials.
Funding for the initiative comes from New College Foundation.
“New College has a history and growing number of students pursuing careers in the medical field,” said MaryAnne Young, the vice president of advancement and executive director for the Foundation. “The Foundation is pleased to support these kinds of tools, such as the MCAT prep course, to help our students succeed.”
New College’s strategic plan includes a goal of increasing the number of students that are admitted to medical and law schools (right now, an average of 15 New College students apply to medical school annually), Peterson said.
At other Florida colleges, where MCAT prep courses are available, the materials and instruction are not free. When students take prep courses directly (through companies like the Princeton Review), they pay for the instruction without the benefit of academic credit, while also attempting to juggle their intense regular curriculars. Giving New College students this opportunity is essential to the success of the students and the campus as a whole.
“Most medical schools take GPA and MCAT scores as a quantitative metric for admission but, because New College students don’t have a GPA, the MCAT score becomes critical to their ability to get admitted,” Peterson said. “This preparation course gives our students an advantage.”
The CEO is also working with its partners at the Princeton Review to create preparatory workshops for students for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE).
For more information on the CEO, visit ncf.edu/ceo
Abby Weingarten is the editor/writer in the Office of Communications & Marketing.