AAMC PREview Exam: Key Info + Prep Tips

August 18, 2022


Reviewed by:

Akhil Katakam

Third-Year Medical Student, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University

Reviewed: 5/13/22

The AAMC PREview exam is an important part of any medical school application. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know to ace the test.

The AAMC PREview exam (previously referred to as the AAMC SJT) is a standardized test demonstrating students’ readiness for medical school. 

Medical schools have found that academic achievement doesn’t always predict who is best suited to become a doctor. With the creation of the AAMC PREview exam, medical schools have a better view of how students think and, therefore, can better understand who would be successful in the medical profession.

By reading this article, you will learn everything you need to know about the AAMC PREview exam. We’ll go over sample scenarios and possible responses so that you can prepare for the test accordingly.

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The AAMC PREview Exam: What You Need to Know

The AAMC PREview exam, formally known as the AAMC SJT or Situational Judgement Test, was implemented in 2020 as a way for medical schools to look beyond academic achievement when deciding on acceptances. 

Although only a few schools adopted this form of the test at first, once the AAMC SJT proved helpful, more institutions showed interest. By collaborating with professionals in the field, the AAMC adapted the test to what it is today. 

The newer test, the AAMC PREview Exam, looks at eight core professional competencies that students should understand before entering medical school. The competencies are:

  • Service orientation
  • Social skills
  • Cultural competencies
  • Teamwork
  • Ethical responsibility to self and others
  • Resilience and adaptability
  • Reliability and dependency
  • Capacity for improvement

The medical professionals consulted during the test’s development thought these competencies were integral for any student wishing to succeed in medical school and their profession.

The Structure of the AAMC PREview Exam

The structure of the PREview test is based on hypothetical scenarios that students may encounter in school. Each AAMC PREview exam question asks you to rate how effective responses to the different scenarios would be on a scale from one to four, one being the least effective and four being the most.

AAMC table on PREview structure
Source: AAMC PREview Exam

Each scenario reflects potential situations medical students may deal with during their training. How you respond to these questions will show how you will likely deal with difficult situations.

Unlike the SJT, the AAMC PREview exam also has a few “field-test” or experimental scenarios that are common once you’ve actually become a doctor. These questions will not be scored but can be used to further understand a student’s readiness to enter the profession.

The AAMC SJT takes 75 minutes to write, with time slated for administrative activities. The following chart represents the timing suggested by the AAMC for the exam.

AAMC PREview exam time
Source: AAMC

The exam is taken virtually, so students need to be in a place where there will be no interruptions of internet service. Through the AAMC’s exam portal, each student is able to access the exam with their own device or at their school/workplace. 

For more information on this, you can download the AAMC PREview Exam Essentials document on their website.

How the AAMC PREview Exam is Scored

The AAMC SJT is given a score out of nine based on your answers to the questions and how they align with a medical educator’s ratings. When creating the exam, the AAMC gets medical educators to take the exam and use those answers when determining scores. 

When your answer closely aligns with the medical professional, high scores are awarded. If you have the same answers, then you will receive full credit. However, if your answers don’t align, then you will likely receive a low score. The raw score is then scaled to fit the overall range of one to nine, and this is the score then sent to schools.

How to Prepare For the AAMC PREview Exam

The first step in preparing for the AAMC PREview exam is to go to the AAMC website, where you will find a comprehensive guide on everything you will need to know for the exam. You will want to concentrate on the following preparation methods:

  • Review the AAMC PREview Exam Guide
  • Read through the policies and procedures so that you are familiar with what will happen on the test date.
  • If needed, complete the tutorial on what the test portal looks like and how to use it.
  • Do practice tests (see a sample question and response below).

Making sure that you are prepared for both the technology and the exam questions will make it easier for you to finish the exam in the time allotted without feeling rushed. 

If you are someone who has a difficult time navigating websites, the AAMC also provides webinars that you can sign up for and ask any questions you may have. The AAMC has provided every possible resource you might need for you to write the exam successfully, so take some time to look through their resources before you sit for the test.

Another way to help prepare for the AAMC PREview exam is to study with other people who will be writing the test. Since the test relies on your judgment, it can be helpful to talk through the sample questions to see how others’ interpretations differ from your own. 

This can broaden your viewpoint and allow you to get used to answering scenario-type questions.

Sample AAMC PREview Exam Scenarios and Responses

The following AAMC SJT sample question is for students looking to practice taking the exam. Below the question, you will see the appropriate responses and then an explanation of why these are the correct answer.

Question: “During class, your professor observes you participating in a roleplay exercise with one of your classmates. You are acting as a doctor, and your classmate is acting as an angry patient. The roleplay is tense but stays on course. You think you performed well, but after class, your classmate gives you unexpected negative feedback that you missed several opportunities to comfort the patient and calm the situation. You are now expected to attend a debriefing session with your professor and classmate. Please rate the effectiveness of each response to this situation.”

"1 = Very Ineffective    2 = Ineffective      3 = Effective      4 = Very Effective 

Answer options:

1. Tell your classmate that only the professor is qualified to provide feedback. 1

2. Tell the professor you understand that you missed some opportunities during the exercise. 2

3. Ask your classmate about how you could improve your performance in the future. 4

4. Explain to your professor why you were satisfied with your performance. 2

5. Ask your classmate if they would be willing to practice roleplaying in advance of your next exercise. 4

6. Ask your classmate not to bring up the negative feedback during your debriefing session. 1”

Explanation of Answers

The most pressing issue in this scenario is that your classmate gave you negative feedback, and the test wants to know how you would deal with this.

Response numbers (1) and (6) would be very ineffective as it shows that you are not willing to learn and that you lack teamwork skills.

Response numbers (2) and (4) show that you are able to explain your thoughts but are unable to adapt to other ways of thinking.

Response numbers (3) and (5) show that you are able to communicate well with teammates and are willing to work on improving.

The scenarios will always have something to do with the eight-core pre-professional competencies, so when answering the questions, try to always have these in mind. For more sample questions, go to the AAMC website.

Which Medical Schools Require the AAMC PREview Exam?

Though not all medical schools require the AAMC PREview exam, a lot have recommended applicants take it. The following list goes through which schools require the test and which ones recommend it.

Schools that require the AAMC PREview exam
Source: AAMC PREview Exam

Final Thoughts

Though the AAMC PREview exam is required for all medical schools, it has been quickly adopted by many, meaning it will become more important as it has proven to be effective. 

By taking the exam, you are able to show your commitment to the profession and how well you will fit into medical school. If you want to increase your chances of gaining acceptance, you should definitely consider writing the AAMC PREview exam.

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