The Validity of Scores From the New MCAT Exam in Predicting Student Performance: Results From a Multisite Study

Acad Med. 2020 Mar;95(3):387-395. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000002942.


Purpose: The new Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) was introduced in April 2015. This report presents findings from the first study of the validity of scores from the new MCAT exam in predicting student performance in the first year of medical school (M1).

Method: The authors analyzed data from the national population of 2016 matriculants with scores from the new MCAT exam (N = 7,970) and the sample of 2016 matriculants (N = 955) from 16 medical schools who volunteered to participate in the validity research. They examined correlations of students' MCAT total scores and total undergraduate grade point averages (UGPAs), alone and together, with their summative performance in M1, and the success rate of students with different MCAT scores in their on-time progression to the second year of medical school (M2). They assessed whether MCAT scores provided comparable prediction of performance in M1 by students' race/ethnicity, socioeconomic background, and gender.

Results: Correlations of MCAT scores with summative performance in M1 ranged from medium to large. Although MCAT scores and UGPAs provided similar prediction of performance in M1, using both metrics provided better prediction than either alone. Additionally, students with a wide range of MCAT scores progressed to M2 on time. Finally, MCAT scores provided comparable prediction of performance in M1 for students from different sociodemographic backgrounds.

Conclusions: This study provides early evidence that scores from the new MCAT exam predict student performance in M1. Future research will examine the validity of MCAT scores in predicting performance in later years.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Academic Performance / standards*
  • Academic Performance / statistics & numerical data
  • Adult
  • College Admission Test / statistics & numerical data*
  • Educational Measurement / standards*
  • Educational Measurement / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Licensure, Medical / standards*
  • Licensure, Medical / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Schools, Medical / standards*
  • Schools, Medical / statistics & numerical data
  • United States
  • Young Adult