Last month, I blogged about a pre-med student who recently took the MCAT and found emotionally-charged pro-evolution-biased language on reading comprehension questions. As he concluded, the MCAT exam is “just supposed to be a way to evaluate how you process information, and they don’t want to influence your reasoning by making you answer emotionally charged questions. This passage was distracting while I was taking the test. It was distracting because it’s about an emotionally controversial topic, and I don’t agree with everything they said. This crosses the line.”
Following that post, another pre-med student (who is about to matriculate into medical school) contacted me and had this to say about the distracting pro-evolution bias on the MCAT:
I sat for the MCAT 3 times over the past few years. And on every MCAT examination there was more than one occasion where the topic of evolution was stated in either passage format (for the verbal reasoning section) or in the biology section. (Note: There are only a few verbal reasoning passages on each exam, and they are pulled from innumerable potential sources. Nonetheless, on one exam the MCAT-writers found room for TWO passages on evolution in the verbal reasoning section.) In every case, Darwinian evolution was presented as non-disputed fact.
I find this not only poor science for those that are preparing to enter the medical field, but it also makes a very poor basis for assessing a person’s competence in biology. Not only that, this is an incredibly stressful and tense test. I understand them testing our knowledge of evolution (as a hypothesis) on the biology section and I would not object to that. But why do they insist on using it unnecessarily in the verbal reasoning section on an exam, and always treating it as a widely accepted fact? It seems that they are using my acceptance of evolution as a measure of my competence as a doctor, and I find that to be both bad science and bad medicine. My ability to treat patients with care, compassion, and competence in no way relates to my beliefs about Darwinism.
Test me on dihybrid crosses, or the velocity of an object on an inclined plane. These are questions that have answers that are proven facts. But please don’t treat speculations and hypotheses in a dogmatic fashion on an exam that bears so much weight for my future. The MCAT testers do just that with regards to evolution, exposing their agenda.