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What is a 'good' MCAT score?

Friday, October 12, 2018
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What is a 'good' MCAT score?
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Students pursuing advanced degrees in Medicine typically take the Medical College Admission Test, more commonly known as the MCAT. Most medical schools require MCAT scores to be eligible for admission. Although universities take applicants' MCAT scores into consideration, this result isn't the end-all-be-all of getting into medical school.

All about the MCAT
The MCAT is a difficult process. It is highly unlikely for any student to get a decent score without seriously hitting the books. Once the exam starts, test-takers should expect to take approximately seven and a half hours to complete it. The material includes questions on specific scientific disciplines in addition to complex questions that involve critical reading skills.

There are four different sections of the exam. Each section is scored on a scale of 118-132 points. The sum of these sections makes up your total MCAT score, at a range between 472-528. A weaker performance in one section shouldn't be a problem if you make up for your shortcomings in the other sections. However, lopsided section scores can be a red flag for admissions officers, so it's best to be equally prepared for all portions. The different sections of the MCAT include:

  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • Critical Analysis and Reading Skills
  • Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior

Although this doesn't sound like a particularly enjoyable experience, the rewards of a strong MCAT score are highly beneficial. Students with strong MCAT results can improve their chances of admission to selective medical schools. In addition, they might receive more merit-based aid to their choice med school, lessening the burden of tuition costs.

woman wearing glasses taking testThe MCAT is challenging, but the sense of accomplishment you will feel after finishing is worth the hard work.

Defining a "good" score
Not surprisingly, a "good" MCAT score is equal to or higher than the average MCAT scores of students accepted to various medical scores. However, a "good" score for one med school might be exponentially lower than a "good" score for a top-tier university.

To look into specific medical schools' maximum and minimum MCAT scores of acceptance, take a look at the AAMC's Medical School Admissions Requirements database. The MSAR can be a helpful tool when figuring out what schools to apply to based on your criteria.

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the mean total MCAT score for students accepted to U.S. medical scores through 2017-2018 was approximately 510. This score makes up the 80th percentile of total scores.

When a score is lower than average
If you fall below the average MCAT score of accepted students into your desired medical schools, don't fret. Med schools take other factors into consideration alongside MCAT scores. If your GPA, recommendation letters and professional experience impresses the admissions counselors, they might overlook your low test scores.

In addition, if you plan on entering a medical field that has doctor shortages, you might be more likely to gain acceptance despite a low MCAT score. The AAMC reported that shortages in primary care, medical specialties, surgical specialties and other specialties will be problematic by 2030. The main cause of this shortage is due to the projection that along with an increased need for care from an aging population, one-third of doctors will be older than 65 in the upcoming decade. By the time they retire, medical schools hope to usher in the next generation of medical professionals.

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