If you’re applying to a medical school in the US, you will likely need to know how to prepare for the AAMC PREview, a situational judgment test used to evaluate a candidate’s non-cognitive pre-professional skills across 8 Core Competencies. It does this through a series of scenarios dealing with ethical and professional dilemmas. Medical schools use AAMC PREview to find the candidates they believe are best suited to their program.

So, if you have done your research on the easiest medical schools to get into, as well medical school acceptance rates, read on to learn how to prepare for the AAMC PREview exam.

Disclaimer: AAMC PREview is a registered trademark of the AAMC. BeMo and AAMC do not endorse or affiliate with one another.

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15 min read

What Is the AAMC PREview? How Is the AAMC PREview Scored? Strategies for How to Prepare for the AAMC PREview Sample AAMC PREview Situations, Responses, and Ratings FAQs

What Is the AAMC PREview?

The AAMC PREview by the Association of American Medical Colleges is an online exam that tests a potential candidate on eight core pre-professional competencies that they consider necessary for becoming a physician. Understanding what these entail will help you prepare for your AAMC PREview.

The 8 Core Competencies are:

PREview includes 30 scenarios with 4 to 8 responses in each for a total of 186 questions. The candidate must rate these responses on the basis of how effective they would be for resolving the issue in that particular scenario. A four-point scale is used to rate these responses: very ineffective, ineffective, effective, and very effective.

Want to learn strategies to ace the AAMC PREview test? Watch this video:

How Is the AAMC PREview Scored?

Understanding how the AAMC PREview is scored will also help you prepare for it.

The AAMC PREview Total Score ranges from 1 (lowest) to 9 (highest).

Your effectiveness ratings of the responses are evaluated against medical educators’ ratings of the same responses. If your rating matches what the medical educator put for that scenario, you will get a full credit. If your rating is close to what the educator gave, you will be given a partial credit. Then, a conversion system called equating is applied to translate raw scores into scaled scores.

A confidence band is reported with your total score to indicate the range in which your “true score” lies. The total score also comes with a percentile rank that shows how your score fared against those of other examinees.

Candidates get their total score, confidence band, percentile rank, and any notes if they choose to score their exam. There is also an option to void the exam, but it is important to note that you only get one chance to take the AAMC PREview per application year, so the option to void the exam should only be used as a last resort. 

Strategies for How to Prepare for the AAMC PREview

Now that you have an idea of what the exam is and how it is scored, you can start to prepare for the AAMC PREview.

Strategy #1: Confirm the Technical Requirements

The test is administered through a secure, online testing environment, which means you can choose your own location and use your own equipment, provided your workspace and computer meet the required technical and security requirements. These are quite specific and extensive, so once you know you need to take the PREview for one or more schools as part of your medical school application timeline, you should set everything up well in advance.

The following devices and systems are not supported:

  • Google Chromebooks
  • Tablets (Nexus, iPad, Tab, Note, etc.)
  • Cell phones
  • Linux operating systems
  • Windows 10 in S mode or Surface RT
  • Running inside a virtual machine

Strategy #2: Familiarize Yourself with Situational Judgment Tests

Situational judgment tests (SJTs) claim to assess your dispositions, personal attributes, qualities, and even values as non-cognitive professional skills. In addition to the AAMC PREview, you will come across other types of SJTs as you’re learning how to prepare for your medical school application, including CASPer and various MMI questions. Understanding how SJTs work and what they involve is definitely a great way to prepare for the AAMC PREView, as the CASPer Test & Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) seem to be highly coachable.

Strategy #3: Learn the 8 AAMC Competencies

When you are highly familiar with the 8 AAMC Competencies and have examples in mind of each one in action, it will be easier to rate responses from least to most effective. Prepare for your practice test by listing experiences you have had or events that have occurred in your life – academic, professional, and personal – that involved making a decision based on some of the skills on this list. Once you have taken a practice test, note down the areas where you struggled to choose an appropriate response. To find better answers to these questions, you can do online research and speak to faculty, physicians, senior peers, or other experts to collect their opinions.

Strategy #4: Take the AAMC PREview Practice Exam

The AAMC PREview Practice Exam was developed by the AAMC with a panel of medical educators. It uses the same format as the actual exam and comprises scenarios that are similar to what you will see on test day. It will also help you familiarize yourself with the timing and structure of the test.

Strategy #5: Learn How to Rate AAMC PREview Responses

Identify which of the 8 Core Competencies are highlighted

Identify the kind of issue you are facing in each scenario and which competencies are highlighted  that is, whether it involves service orientation, social skills, teamwork, cultural competence, an ethical dilemma, and so on. This way, you will be able to orient yourself in the right direction and make sure you take the correct next steps.

Identify the pressing issue and parties impacted

The second step is very important, as it involves identifying the most pressing issue and the parties impacted. Consider everyone involved in the scenario and try to point out the most vulnerable or negatively affected party. You'll want to know how to prepare for ethical questions in a medical school interview to deal with some of the situations you'll be presented with. One of the parties could be a patient in your care, so you need to make sure that your judgment of the scenario is unbiased. This will prevent you from negating any of the responses outright or incorrectly giving a high rating to a negative response. Go through each response carefully and examine whether it helps the affected party and if it is within the ethical and legal boundaries of your specific situation. There may even be situations where you feel personally offended, but remember to remain calm, objective, and unbiased.

Establish priorities

You will also need to rate the responses based on how they prioritize the various actions that you should take if you were faced with a similar scenario. You might need to consider which party is most impacted among several. You might need to take certain actions before others, so do pay attention to the order of elements in a response. For example, if there is a threat or danger present in the scenario, you will need to first create a safe space so that you don’t worsen the situation by rushing into an intervention and ignoring the potential for greater harm.

Rate the responses

When you’re ready to rate the responses, you will have to consider how each response affects all the parties involved. From the available responses, analyze which one best addresses the issue at hand without causing harm to any of the parties. As noted above, also consider which actions you should prioritize for the most effective response.

You will then rate the responses provided, based on the following:

Four-Point Scale

Strategy #6: Get Expert Feedback

At BeMo, when you engage in AAMC PREview prep with us, we start by showing you how to recognize various types of AAMC PREview questions and answers and how to develop a specific strategy for each. No one can predict exactly what questions you will see on your exam, but if you know a quick and simple method to respond to various prompts, it doesn't matter what scenarios you are presented with on your exam because you will be able to identify the best response to any potential question quickly.

BeMo Diagnostic of Your Response Ratings

Strategy #7: Try Realistic Practice

Once you understand how to respond to various kinds of prompts, it’s time to put theory into practice. To help you overcome your fear of the unknown and begin preparing for your exam, we will set you up with realistic AAMC PREview simulations. After you finish each AAMC PREview practice test, our PREview specialists will evaluate your responses and give you personalized feedback. We will specifically point out what you are doing well and what needs to be improved. We want to equip you with all the knowledge and abilities you need to improve both as a practicing professional and as a person.

Sample AAMC PREview Situations, Responses, and Ratings

Now that you have a better idea of how to approach AAMC PREview responses, take a look at some samples, along with recommended AAMC ratings and our BeMo rationale:

Sample 1

You just received a lower course grade than you expected. You worked extremely hard and don’t believe your course grade accurately reflects your performance in the course. You are also worried this grade will reflect poorly on you when you apply to residency, so you are meeting with your professor to discuss your grade. 

Core competencies: capacity for improvement, social skills

Pressing issue: your own academic performance

Impacted parties: yourself

Please rate the effectiveness of each response to this situation:

Very Ineffective / Ineffective / Effective / Very Effective

  1. Speak with your classmates to identify whether your understanding of the grading rubric matches theirs.
  2. Question the professor’s application of the grading rubric.
  3. Ask the professor for feedback on the reason for your lower grade.
  4. Tell the professor that you deserve a better grade for this course. 
  5. Ask the professor for help on how you can improve your performance in the future.
  6. Ask the professor if you can raise your grade by working on any additional assignments. 
  7. Explain why you feel the grade you were given does not reflect your performance.
  8. Ask the professor to make an exception for you based on the amount of effort you put in.

Ideal Ratings and Rationale Based on our BeMo Diagnostic:

Response 1

Effective – This response could help but will not significantly improve the situation. You demonstrate some of the core competencies highlighted in the scenario, such as social skills, but your approach does not address the pressing issue (your grade) optimally. You make an effort to comprehend the grading criteria as they relate to your own work by asking for feedback from your peers, which shows that you are keen to improve. However, your actions do not offer a solution to the parties involved (yourself), as they focus on simply seeking more information from peers, who may have an incomplete understanding of the grading criteria. Therefore, the result is not guaranteed. Moreover, given the professor’s function as an evaluator, you should also speak with the professor next. No one is negatively impacted.

Response 2

Very ineffective – This response will cause additional problems or make the situation worse. You have demonstrated the opposite of the core competencies being highlighted in the scenario. Your approach does not address the pressing issue(s). One or more parties involved are negatively impacted. There is no indication that you are willing to accept criticism, take advice, or learn from the professor’s assessment. You show disrespect for your professor by thinking you are more qualified to assess your work than the professor.

Response 3

Very effective – As a next move, you ask your professor for input on your course grade. This response reveals your wish to evaluate your performance and improve it in the future. You show capacity for improvement and good social skills by reaching out and directly address the pressing issue of your academic performance.

Response 4

Very ineffective – You do not engage in the discussion with an open mind or appropriately express your point of view. Your actions also show that you are unable to embrace or grow from this failure; thus, you show a low capacity for improvement. Further, you show poor social skills by making demands of your professor. This may make the situation worse, as it will not improve your academic performance and will make a bad impression.

Response 5

Very effective – Even though the course is over, you actively ask your professor for advice on how you can do better in the future. This reveals your desire to continue to advance your medical education, a sign of your capacity for improvement. You use your social skills to contact the professor and stand to improve your future academic performance, which is the pressing issue.

Response 6

Ineffective – While you are looking for ways to raise your grade, this response does not show that you are ready to reflect on how you performed in class. You should instead seek an explanation for why you got a grade that was lower than anticipated. This would show a stronger capacity for improvement and focus on the future to better address the pressing issue of your academic performance.

Response 7

Ineffective – While it may be advisable to express your viewpoint to the professor, you should approach the discussion with a more open mind regarding the professor’s assessment of your work. While you may engage your social skills here, you do not show any interest in learning ways to improve, and simply discussing your grade will not have any impact on your academic performance.

Response 8

Very ineffective – This makes you appear unwilling to accept responsibility for your grade. You don’t express any interest in receiving more criticism, hearing the professor’s viewpoint, or taking something away from their assessment. This response shows poor social skills, as you expect to be treated better than other students. It does not show any capacity for improvement and will certainly not improve your academic performance. Further, it may make the situation worse by damaging your relationship with your professor and possibly your peers.

Sample 2

You are part of a team assigned to a group project. During your first group meeting, you and most of your team members discuss how you want to do extra work on the project in an effort to get a higher grade. However, one team member says they don’t have time to do extra work due to their volunteer commitments.

Core competencies: teamwork, social skills

Pressing issue: achieving a high grade as a team

Impacted parties: you and your team members, especially the member who has less available time

Please rate the effectiveness of each response to this situation:

Very Ineffective / Ineffective / Effective / Very Effective

  1. Suggest that the team member speak with the instructor and arrange for a new team that would be able to accommodate their situation. 
  2. Suggest to the team that fewer tasks be assigned to that team member.
  3. Ask the team member if they can alter their volunteering commitments to find time for the group project. 
  4. Try to understand what work that team member will be able to complete for the project by discussing it with them.
  5. Tell the team member that you will inform the instructor if they don’t do the right amount of work on the project.
  6. As a team, discuss which parts of the group project each person can complete.

Ideal Ratings and Rationale Based on our BeMo Diagnostic:

Response 1

Very ineffective – You stop communicating with the team member entirely. Your request not only goes against the initial group assignment and is unlikely to be approved by the professor, but it is also disrespectful to the team member. This shows very poor social skills and an unwillingness to accommodate or work as a team.

Response 2

Effective –You engage your social skills and concern for teamwork in this response. You show that you are willing to make accommodations for your team member, given their busy schedule. You propose a solution that aims to meet the objectives of the rest of the team. However, because you don’t take the time to learn about your team member’s other duties or how they would like to assist on the assignment, the behavior is not “very effective.” Therefore, you may not solve the pressing issue, which is to improve your team’s grade.

Response 3

Effective – This demonstrates your willingness to approach a teammate and ask how they can modify their approach to support the team’s objective, which shows strong social skills. It is not “very effective,” though, because the team member must consider altering their schedule without first reflecting on what they can or are willing to do to assist with the project. This places the onus on the individual, not the team. This could also have a negative impact if the team member is still unable to fully contribute and could potentially mean you do not solve the pressing issue, which is team excellence.

Response 4

Very effective – You acknowledge your team member’s situation and propose a workaround that takes into account the team member’s schedule while still achieving team objectives. This shows strong social skills and a willingness to engage in real teamwork. If everyone contributes to the best of their ability, you are also more likely to excel as a team and get a better grade, which is the pressing issue.

Response 5

Very ineffective – This indicates an unwillingness to collaborate with or pay attention to a team member in order to come up with a workable solution. Instead, you behave disrespectfully by implying that you will report the team member and fail to show understanding of the requirements and interests of your teammates. As a threat, this shows extremely poor social skills and a lack of teamwork and will not solve the pressing issue; in fact, it will certainly make the situation worse.

Response 6

Very effective – You show initiative by assigning project tasks to team members in order to accomplish your collective objective (i.e., completing the project). This response recognizes the value of teamwork and the significance of setting team goals as priorities. As a result, you will very likely achieve your goal of excellent teamwork and a better grade.

Sample 3

You are assisting a physician at a local hospital. Upon entering a patient's room, you forget to wash your hands because you are nervous. In front of the patient, the doctor explains that you did not follow protocol because you did not wash your hands. 

Core competencies: service orientation, capacity for improvement

Pressing issue: proper hygiene and service protocols to ensure adequate patient care

Impacted parties: the patient, you, the doctor 

Please rate the effectiveness of each response to this situation:

Very Ineffective / Ineffective / Effective / Very Effective

  1. Tell the doctor that you did not get a chance to do it yet.
  2. Wash your hands immediately.
  3. Tell the truth and explain to the doctor that your nervousness made you forget to wash your hands.
  4. Assure the patient your hands are clean.
  5. Apologize for the mistake and assure the doctor it will not happen again.

Ideal Ratings and Rationale Based on our BeMo Diagnostic:

Response 1

Very ineffective – You don’t accept responsibility for your error. Additionally, this response could signify a lack of interest in the doctor’s advice, which would be detrimental to your future growth and learning, as it shows a poor capacity for improvement. By disrespecting the doctor in front of the patient, you may also cause more negative consequences for your patient and yourself. The patient’s sense of security may be impacted, thus affecting the service orientation of the health care facility, and you will have made a bad impression on both the patient and the doctor.

Response 2

Very effective – This response is “very effective” because you show that you take the doctor’s criticism into account and follow the hand-washing protocol. By changing your behavior, you demonstrate accountability for your error and a strong capacity for improvement. You show that you are keen to learn the proper hygiene and service protocols to ensure adequate patient care, which is the pressing issue.

Response 3

Effective – You respond to the doctor’s observation by acknowledging it and explaining why you made the mistake. However, you don’t accept responsibility for your actions or immediately correct the error, so the answer isn’t “very effective.” In this way, you don’t show a strong capacity for improvement or a willingness to address the pressing issue by learning proper hygiene and service protocols to ensure adequate patient care. Consequently, this could impact the service orientation of the health care facility.

Response 4

Very ineffective – This lack of personal accountability makes this response “very ineffective.” Additionally, your behavior suggests a breach of the hand-washing protocol set in the scenario, indicating a lack of ethical responsibility toward oneself and others. You do not show that you are willing to learn the proper hygiene and service protocols to ensure adequate patient care. Therefore, in this response, you fail to demonstrate a service orientation or capacity for improvement. Moreover, you may damage the health care facility’s reputation by addressing the patient directly and ignoring the doctor.

Response 5

Very effective – You apologize for your error while also acknowledging the doctor’s remark. Moreover, you express your commitment to preventing similar errors in the future in an effort to gain the doctor’s trust. This ensures a strong service orientation, is reassuring for the patient, shows respect for the doctor, and demonstrates your willingness to learn the appropriate protocols to ensure patient care.

For more help as you prepare for the AAMC PREview, you can set up a free strategy call with BeMo to speak to a medical school advisor.

Source: Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC)


1. What is the AAMC PREview?

AAMC PREview is a situational judgment test used by many medical schools in the US to assess a candidate’s non-cognitive professional skills and behavior across eight core competencies. It does so through a series of scenarios dealing with ethical and professional dilemmas. 

2. What rating system does the AAMC PREview use?

The AAMC PREview uses a four-point scale rating system: very ineffective, ineffective, effective, and very effective. Based on the candidate’s responses, the admissions committee can assess how they would respond when presented with a professional dilemma.

3. Can I give the same rating to multiple responses?

Yes, in fact, you will have to give the same ratings to multiple responses because in several scenarios, there will be more than four responses, but there are only four rating points. Don’t worry about having to give the same rating to multiple responses in an AAMC PREview scenario.

4. Will I have to use all four rating points in every scenario?

It is not mandatory to use all four rating points. There may be scenarios where none of the responses warrant a particular rating, so don’t worry about having to use all four rating points.

5. What is the format of the AAMC PREview?

It is a 75-minute online test, and you can use your own computer. Please make sure your device meets the technical and security requirements. Note that you will not be able to access the internet, applications, software, and other files on your computer while taking the exam. You will be presented with 30 scenarios with 4 to 8 responses each, and you will have to rate those responses based on their effectiveness.

6. What if I don’t want the score on my AAMC PREview because I feel I performed poorly?

You can choose to void your score after the exam, but note that you can only take the AAMC PREview once per application cycle.

7. Can any medical student take the AAMC PREview exam?

Yes, any aspiring medical student applying to one of the participating schools can take the AAMC PREview exam. 

8. Is there a fee for the AAMC PREview exam?

Yes, the AAMC PREview exam costs $100 (US).

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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