MEDICAL

What is a Good MCAT Score

The average MCAT score for the year 2019 – 2020 is about 500 of the total score that ranges from 472 to 528.

Now you’re probably wondering: What is a good MCAT score? What is the highest MCAT score?

Know that the average MCAT scores for medical schools can vary every year.

In this article, apart from understanding what is a good MCAT score, you’ll also learn that achieving the highest MCAT score is possible with focus and determination.

You should also know that there are other aspects to consider if you want to be accepted in medical school other than your MCAT score.

MCAT Score Range

As mentioned above, the MCAT score range lies between 472 and 528. Check out the MCAT percentiles data below:

MCAT score range

From May 1, 2019 – April 30, 2020, the average MCAT score is roughly 500. Each of the sections also has an average MCAT score, which you’ll see in the next section below.

Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS)

MCAT score percentiles for the CARS

The MCAT score percentiles for the CARS section of the exam ranges from 118 – 132.  

Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior

Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems

The MCAT score percentiles for the PSBB section and Biological & Biochemical section are nearly similar in both range and mean score.

To understand MCAT percentiles, the ‘Percentile Rank’ column tells you the percentage of test-takers that achieved the same section scores or lower section scores than you did.

For example, the ‘Percentile Rank’ 74 in the Biological and Biochemical section tells us that 74% of test-takers achieved a score equal to or lower than 127.

What Is The Highest MCAT Score Possible?

The maximum MCAT score attainable is 528. However, from the MCAT score distribution table, 521 places you at the 99th percentile.

This is already considered the best MCAT score a student can receive, or at the very least, one of the highest scores in the highest percentile.

A Good MCAT Score

There is no concrete answer to what a good MCAT score is, and it varies for every university.

The total number of applicants shows a mean MCAT score between 502.8 and 510.5. That’s roughly 503 and 511.

The total number of matriculants (those who were accepted), in contrast, scores between 510 and 515. 

The data above shows the MCAT test-takers for the years 2016, 2017, and 2018.

Although the applicants’ mean MCAT score is lower than the matriculants’ mean MCAT score, this shouldn’t lead you to assume that a score of 503 or 508 means zero chances.

Scoring in the 60th or 70th percentile might lessen the chances compared to higher percentile ranges, but overall, a good MCAT score is a collective set of attributes rather than just sole academic performance.

In other words, the person with the lowest MCAT score accepted into med school may have ranked even at the 20th percentile.

An MCAT score breakdown will give you a better glimpse instead of relying on what is the average MCAT score.

Here are 6 essential points to look out for:

  1. GPA

An MCAT passing score is a good chance to enter medical schools.

However, you should know that your GPA (1) has a direct correlation to your MCAT score and reflects your academic performance overall compared to just the MCAT.

We can use a table supplied by AAMC to better illustrate this:

Let’s narrow it down to different GPA’s:

We already know a high GPA and high MCAT score increases the acceptance rate into medical school.

What about a high GPA and a low MCAT score?

The red outline reveals that even an MCAT score that is lesser than 486 but with a GPA between 3.60 and 3.79 above still has a chance.

Using this to benchmark the lowest acceptance rate medical school programs will tolerate confirms that an MCAT score isn’t everything you need to rely on to get into the med-school of your choice.

Let’s use one last example.

If your GPA falls between 2.40 and 3.19, the chances of your acceptance rate while landing an MCAT score lower than 486 is something to steer clear of.

An MCAT score of 486 to 489 has slim chances, yet, it’s still possible.

The two examples and the table shows that a high GPA can indeed affect your acceptance rate even with a lower MCAT score or percentile score.

  1.             Clinical Experience

MCAT scores and percentiles aren’t the only measures to getting accepted. Academically related attributes also contribute 1/3 of your acceptance rate.

Clinical experience, for one, reinforces your MCAT knowledge through your reasoning skills, analysis, and foundation because you’re now applying what you’ve read into real-world applications.

  1.             Letters of Recommendation

Credibility is essential in any medical school. After all, it is the integrity of your work that matters even more. A good letter of recommendation can subjectively alter what kind of fit you will be for the school. It also sets a positive impact among your colleagues and mentors.

  1.             Extracurricular Activities

If you’re a book junkie, that’s not a problem at all. However, it is always best to try something different apart from textbook knowledge.

A good MCAT score might come from 60 to 70% of textbook knowledge, but the remaining 30 to 40% depends on how well you can take the test in terms of pacing, comprehension, and understanding.

Test-taking strategies aren’t found in textbooks; they’re found in the real world.

  1.             Personal Statement

Why is this important? And how does it contribute to a good MCAT score?

Essentially, your personal statement is a reflection of your personality.

The average MCAT scores by school or average GPA and MCAT for medical schools isn’t going to matter if you lack in skills that show how unique you are and why you deserve to be accepted in the medical school of your choice.

In short, the admission committee isn’t only interested in your score. They’re also interested in what inspired you to become a doctor, the experiences that shaped you, and how you can stay motivated among highly competitive students.

  1.             Interview

Finally, the interview process. Even if all your submissions and answers look superb on paper, it tells a totally different story in person.

Your sincerity, wit, and knowledge are significant impressions that can change even what looks poor on paper.

How Do I Get A Good MCAT Score?

Believe it or not, your academic standing is only 1 out of 3 components necessary to get a good MCAT score.

Academic standing depends on:

  • The diversity or variety of resource materials you use such as combining Kaplan, AAMC, and Examkrackers reviewer tools
  • Taking as many practice tests as you can; 10 – 15 is a sufficient number
  • Your MCAT study plan; generally 4 -5 months is the best range
  • Understanding the best way you learn: self-paced, live online, in-person/tutoring

The other 2 components you should pay attention to are:

  1. Personal Experiences

Admission committees don’t want to hear you recite complete text pages or even name all the parts of the human heart. They want to know how well you understand working with a patient, how to diagnose and decide assertively, and how much you have been exposed to such experiences.

This boils down to your clinical experience and experience overall as a medical student. That is the meat to your MCAT score.

  1.               Personal Attributes

If you have both a good MCAT score and colorful experiences to offer, the last deciding factor is your attributes. Doctors have to follow a strict ethical code because dealing with lives is something you take seriously every step of the way.

Things like leadership skills, teamwork, your ability to mediate or diffuse stressful situations, and professionalism are one of the many attributes admission committees look out for.

Table of Contents

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I retake the MCAT?

By all means, retaking the MCAT is a sound decision. Considering what went wrong in your first attempt is valuable feedback. Maybe you had an anxiety attack. Maybe you didn’t study hard enough and were complacent.

These can affect your score significantly so a second attempt shouldn’t extend further harm.

What is the limit of MCAT attempts I can take?

3 MCAT attempts should be the limit. Anything beyond that signals a red flag. Also, carefully consider how you approached each MCAT attempt. If you gave your best at each MCAT attempt, but your scores didn’t change, it’s time to rethink what you should do next.

How is the MCAT scored?

The MCAT is scored by first counting the number of questions answered correctly. This is your raw score. AAMC converts your raw score to an MCAT scaled score for each of the four sections.

An AAMC sample test score conversion would be, if the numbers correct for one of the sections ranges from 46 to 48, your MCAT scaled score could be 128.

Conclusion

A good MCAT score is a collective sum of metrics that don’t rely on academic performance alone. Rather than focusing simply on what is a perfect MCAT score to attain, don’t limit your study plan to just textbooks.

Draw knowledge from various sources you have access to as much as you can starting as early as your pre-med years.

Ultimately, if you want to know how to do well on the MCAT, preparing ahead of time, building experiences, and improving yourself are fundamental guides throughout your MCAT prep journey.

References