Experts: Librarians Can Help Students Pass MCAT

Marc Songini, JoVE Writer | 5 min read
Marc Songini, JoVE Writer | 5 min read

Pre-med students face great burdens and challenges when preparing for the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). The process can be overwhelming. Purchasing preparation materials or hiring private tutors can be expensive and out of the reach of lower income students.

That’s why JoVE recently sponsored a webinar: “How Libraries Can Support Pre Health Students & Advisors.” The event was hosted by Colin Treanor, customer success manager at JoVE, and featured two experts, Pre-Health Advisor Manager at Georgia Tech Francisco Castelan, and Director of Academic Advising in the Office of Academic Advising at Rice University in Houston, Texas, Aliya Bhimani.

Both schools have students interested in medical careers as doctors, dentists, osteopaths, and so on.

MCAT Challenges

The experts discussed the challenges. For instance, it takes more than seven hours to complete the test. In recent years, new requirements were added, for biochemistry, statistics, psychology and sociology. This is “an additional four courses of content that is now part of that extensive test and so that typically creates a unique challenge,” said Castelan.

To help them prepare, students are delaying taking the MCAT. “We're actually encouraging students not to take the MCAT until they have fully prepared and oftentimes that is not until your junior year,” said Bhimani. Medical schools “welcome gap years as long as they are productive ones.”  

What Librarians Can Do

Because of the situation, STEM librarians can rise to the challenge. Students expect their schools to offer them guidance and resources for MCAT preparation. According to the event speakers, among the programs and resources librarians can offer are:

  • Workshops/classes on MCAT prep
  • Physical space for MCAT advisors to interact with students
  • Outreach to subject matter experts via newsletters and the like      
  • Making students aware of existing library resources (books, test prep materials)
  • The promotion of learning/collaboration platforms, such as Piazza
  • Sponsoring library resource days to highlight what the school offers

Consider JoVE for MCAT

There is also the JoVE MCAT playlist, as Treanor explained. It’s a collection of videos selected by JoVE experts that match the MCAT requirements, on such topics as chemistry or cell biology. “This is something that JoVE’s customer success team built and developed as a way for libraries to supplement some of the other MCAT prep resources that they have,” he said.

JoVE is free to students at subscribing institutions. “You know paying for textbooks and college itself is already a pretty high financial burden,” he said. “Adding something as expensive as that [prep material] on top of it can really be a challenge for students.”

Bhimani said: “There are a lot of resources out there, and sifting through what to use is often a question that comes up here, and I think on campuses across the country. It is hard. It's been helpful to have resources that are free and available. So things like the JoVE playlist have been incredibly helpful for our students when access is part of it."

The full webinar is available, for free, on YouTube.

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