By: Petros Minasi
Now that scores for the April and May 2015 MCAT administrations are being released, there are a lot of questions swimming through the minds of pre-meds who are applying to medical school this year—specifically the question of: What is a good MCAT score?
The new “30”
In years past, it was easy to answer this question, since we could point to the average matriculant numbers for each med school, but since no med school has yet to admit a class with scores from the new MCAT, the average is not yet known, and the question almost impossible to answer.
We won’t really know what the new “30” is until next year, once the first cohort of students are admitted, but what we do know is that medical schools will continue to seek out students with the strongest performance on the exam.
Reviewing how the MCAT is scored
To refresh, the four section scores individually range from 118 to 132, with 125 being the average, or 50th, percentile. As such, the total score, or sum of the four sections, ranges from 472 to 528, with 500 representing the 50th percentile, or average. If you look at the old MCAT, you will see that the “30” fell around the 85th percentile, and one could posit that the new matriculant average will also fall around 85.
It must be imparted that worrying about scores occupies far too much brain space for students who are studying for the MCAT. If you’ve recently been down this road, you know that you had enough on your plate just internalizing the content and learning how to take the exam efficiently. The more you worry about your score while prepping, the more you can stress out about a specific percentile rather than internalizing the skills you need to be successful on the exam.
So what about now that I have my MCAT score? What’s next?
For those of you who have your MCAT scores, start by looking into the recent scores of matriculants at your prospective schools and programs—even though they took the previous version of the MCAT. You can always contact the schools directly, but using their published information from previous years will give you a good start in assessing the strength of your application. Then, compare your projected percentile using the guidelines above to the percentiles of matriculants at those top-choice schools.
Don’t forget: there is time to retake the exam and still apply this year if you’re not happy with your MCAT score. Plenty of students take the MCAT a second time, and there are still test dates in July, August, and September available.
Retaking the MCAT to shoot for a higher score?
If you do plan on taking the MCAT again, make sure that you will have time to devote to a structured study plan. The last thing you want to do is retake the exam without any additional preparation; that could introduce an unnecessary expenditure of money, time, and stress into your life—only to defeat the initial and sole purpose of raising your score.
In fact, since medical schools see all your scores, you will want to show a marked improvement from one MCAT administration to the next. If you didn’t fully commit to your study plan before, learn from your previous attempt and focus on really improving your study habits and discipline. Remember—it’s only temporary!
Life after the MCAT
As more information becomes available about the MCAT and average scores, rest assured that you will hear it from us. In the meantime, take a moment to reflect on your performance and assess your next steps. If you’re happy with your MCAT score, look toward your immediate next steps—it’s time to move on to your personal statement, letters of recommendation, and general application. Focus in the right place at the right time so you can get ever closer to wearing your white coat!
If you’re retaking the MCAT, time to hit the ground running with your prep for those upcoming test dates. Dig into our course options, and get started today. Don’t forget to sign up to the Med School Pulse to get the latest news and updates about the new MCAT score and percentile rankings.