Students rate UCSD 15th worst MCAT site

    Kaplan Test Prep has rated UCSD among the 15 worst locations in the nation for students to take the August sitting of the Medical College Admission Test.

    Kaplan’s 2003 “Test Site Rater” surveyed 2,124 students taking the August 2003 MCATs for proctors, comfort, noise, desk space and overall experience.

    UCSD was ranked 172 out of 187, up from fourth-worst location in August 2002.

    San Diego State University ranked much higher, coming in at 69th place.

    Other UC campuses lagged further behind San Diego State but still ranked higher than UCSD, with UCLA at 164th, UC Berkeley at 129th and UC Davis ranking highest of the UC campuses at 124th.

    Students taking the MCAT at UCSD’s August sitting were placed in Peterson Hall in both lecture halls and smaller rooms.

    “It was really loud … and the desks were small,” Earl Warren College senior Matthew Rustici said. “It would be nice to have a big desk because you’re flipping back and forth a lot between the Scantron and the booklet.”

    The small desks at Peterson Hall contributed to only 60 percent satisfaction with the UCSD site’s desk space.

    “The ideal test conditions for a test site would be a comfortable desk with adequate space in a quiet room at a comfortable temperature,” said Justin Serrano, executive director of Kaplan Test Preparation. “The validity of standardized testing rests on standard test conditions. This is why students need to educate themselves about their choices of location.”

    For Thurgood Marshall College senior Kendra Lesar, who was placed in one of the smaller rooms, desk space was not the worst problem.

    “My biggest complaint was that someone’s phone rang in the middle,” she said. “The proctors were pretty nice, but they weren’t incredibly strict, which is probably why somebody’s phone rang.”

    Proctors were rated 3.8 out of five from 2.9 in 2002, when there were many complaints about disorganized proctors.

    “The proctors this year were fair and nice,” said Thurgood Marshall College senior Amir Nejad. “They were a little bit behind schedule, but not anything [too detrimental].”

    Nejad, who took the MCAT twice — once at San Diego State University in April 2003 and once at UCSD in August 2003 — said he preferred his experience at UCSD.

    “Everybody wanted to go to SDSU because they had heard it was better … but it ended up being tiny tables with construction going on outside,” he said. “At UCSD, the chairs were hard and the desks were also small, but at least it was quiet.”

    Nejad added that although UCSD desks were a bit smaller, they were spaced out, so students felt like they had more room.

    UCSD was rated 3.1 out of five for quiet and comfort and 3.4 for overall experience.

    “Overall, good planning is key to improve conditions of testing sites,” Serrano said. “Also, hold the test in a comfortable location and make sure that there won’t be major distractions … around the test site.”

    Serrano stressed the importance of students choosing high-quality testing sites as essential in the process of applying to medical school.

    “A 90th-plus percentile score can make up for an average GPA, but not enough for a lower GPA than a school normally accepts,” Serrano said. “There is almost always enough time to prepare for the test, whereas when you are ready to take the exam, there is not much more to do for you GPA.”

    Kaplan also rated LSAT sites in its Test Site Rater. While UCSD is not an LSAT test site, the LSATs were offered in October 2003 at other San Diego area locations, including San Diego State University and California Western School of Law. Out of 307, San Diego State University ranked 214, while California Western School of Law ranked higher at 178.

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