"Turbans No Longer Banned at MCAT Exams, Rules AAMC"
By SUNITA SOHRABJI, US INDIAN NEWS, indiawest.com, October 29, 2008
In its letter to a Sikh professional organization dated Oct. 2, the Association of American Medical Colleges announced it would no longer ban turbans at MCAT exam sites.
The MCAT — the Medical College Admissions Test — is an exam required for admission to U.S. medical schools. The AAMC, which administers the test through Thomson Prometrics, previously had a policy stating that anyone wearing a head covering could be asked to remove it at the MCAT examination room.
Neha Singh, western region director of the Sikh Coalition, told India-West that if the AAMC’s old policy had been designed to thwart cheating, shoes and pockets should also have been routinely checked for all test-takers. “A turban is wound pretty tightly. It’s pretty difficult to fit anything inside,” she said.
“For a Sikh, covering the head is as important as putting on pants,” said Singh, adding, “A lot of people assume its optional, but it’s not.”
Dr. Baljit Singh Sidhu, president of NASMDA, told India-West his son and his friends took the MCAT last year, and while his son was not asked to remove his turban before taking the test, several of his friends were. Sidhu said a similar policy was occasionally being applied with the Graduate Record Examination — the GRE — and even with high school students taking the Scholastic Aptitude Test – SATs.
“You can hide test materials in your turban, but you can also hide them in your bra, your underwear or your baggy pants,” said Sidhu. “It’s discriminatory to only search people wearing turbans,” he said.