MCAT Conundrum

Hi everyone,

I took the MCAT for the first time in September and just received my final score this week. Of the schools I’m interested in applying to, a specific minimum percentile is listed for one, but for many of the others there is no range listed. I did better on the actual test than I did on my practice tests, but I’m still not sure if my score is competitive enough or if I should set myself up to retake it next year. Is there a “safe score” over which you’re unofficially considered a competitive applicant or is it more school-specific?

Before taking the MCAT, I was working full-time and taking care of my family, including my two little boys. I quit my job at the end of June, giving myself 2 months to study full-time before testing in September. I still have prerequisites to fulfill and now feel a bit foolish that I didn’t have more recent and a larger breadth of coursework under my belt before taking the test, but I had confidence in my ability to study hard and study well. I got a 504.

Any suggestions or advice anyone may have to offer is welcome. Is this something I should contact each school about? Since this is my first time taking the MCAT I just am not sure how to proceed from here with the score I received.


Unfortunately, nobody really knows yet. The current version of the MCAT has been available for less than a year, and it’s scoring system is completely different from the previous one that had been in use since 1997 (IIRC).

If memory serves, on the previous version, the average score was 25, while the average of accepted applicants was 30ish, so slightly less than 1 SD above the average. I would guess that trend would continue with the new version, but that’s really just a guess. It’s probably going to take a couple of years before everyone figures out what they want for the new version of the test.

Before the new MCAT was released, AAMC published that they were trying to scale the scores so that 500 was the top of the bell curve. So you’re on the good side of the curve if things go according to their planned statistics.

The old MCAT had a mean of around 25. According to AACOM, the mean score for DO matriculants (2013) was just under 27, with a median of 27 and a standard dev of around 3. Your chances are better if you have pretty even scores across all of the subject areas (ie didn’t bomb one and made up the points on another).

I’m not a statistician, but based on MCAT score alone, you’re theoretically in a MCAT pool of 21% of the matriculant pool for DOs as of 2 years ago. I didn’t look it up for MD because your score is a little low, though no one gets accepted on MCAT alone. View the MCAT as just one piece of the package and not an end all, be all thing. Some of my school admins pretty much said after a certain score (can’t remember what it is), the correlation with board pass rate is so high that it doesn’t really matter if you score that much better on the MCAT. But like everything, higher ‘looks’ better.

It’s not worth contacting schools about your score in my opinion. You made the decision to take the test, took the test, and didn’t void your score, which is all the admissions folks are going to care about at this point. You might think about retaking the test after you’ve completed the prereqs and studied more, but that’s totally up to you. In your essays/interviews, I would shy away from making an excuse for your score (it’s not a bad score, you’re better than half of the rest of the people taking it). If you do retake with better prep, you might mention how/why you improved, but not so much on why you scored lower on the first go around.

Thanks for the input, Prodigal and Kennymac. I think I am going to go forward with applying next summer as long as my courses are all in order and based on further discussions with my advisor. My score is a bit low, but as you said, Kennymac, it’s just part of the package and I have a strong GPA to back up my academic standing. I scored significantly better on 2 sections than I did on the other 2 sections of the MCAT, but I have enough confidence in where I will be, how it will “look,” and what I have to offer that I will only retake the MCAT if I feel like it is truly a hindrance after next summer’s cycle.