Question of the Week: Preparing for the AAMC PREview exam

Jan. 27, 2023

Q: I’ve heard there’s a new test called PREview that I’ll have to take when I apply to med school. How should I prepare for it?
A: The PREview professional readiness exam is designed to gauge your judgment in professional situations. It seeks to understand how you’re developing some of the AAMC core competencies (specifically, service orientation; social skills; cultural competence; teamwork; ethical responsibility to self and others; resilience and adaptability; reliability and dependability; and capacity for improvement). There’s another situational judgment test that’s required by some medical schools called the CASPer, which has a different format but measures some of the same characteristics.
The best way to prepare in the years prior to applying to medical school is to place yourself in situations where you’re interacting with others as part of a team and developing your professional judgment. This isn’t a content-based exam like the MCAT – you aren’t expected to memorize facts. It’s an exam where familiarity with how people may effectively approach difficult situations can be helpful. In the years before you apply, you could read through or take the practice exam to get a feel for the format and the questions that are asked.
In the spring before you apply to medical school, you should familiarize yourself with the exam format, expectations, and logistics of taking it (which will be in the spring/summer you apply to medical school). Read all of the free PREview resources posted online and attend the webinar that introduces the exam (register through the PREview website). There’s an examinee preparation guide that goes over the test goals, structure, and format, and a practice exam with a scoring key and explanations of the rationale behind each correct response.

It’s clear that medical schools are eager to understand your ethical decision-making, professionalism, and maturity in addition to your scientific knowledge, and your ability and interest in serving others with health needs. They're continually trying to determine ways to quantify these qualities. There’s debate about how effective these tools are in meeting this goal, how much bias is embedded in them, and the added stress that these assessments add to applying to medical school, but for now, they’re part of the process, so understanding what they’re trying to measure and how they’re trying to measure it will help you prepare. Like everything else (experiences, attributes, GPA, MCAT, etc.), these tests are one piece of many being considered as part of holistic review in admissions, so take them seriously, but try not to lose sleep over them.

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