Is Retaking the MCAT a Red Flag That Must Be Addressed?

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ADG 228: Is Retaking the MCAT a Red Flag That Must Be Addressed?

Session 228

This student had to retake the MCAT multiple times, they want to know if it’s something they should address in their application.

Ask Dr. Gray: Premed Q&A is brought to you by Blueprint MCAT. Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

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[00:20] Question of the Day

“I am wondering if I need to address that I had to take up the MCAT four times. The first one of them expired, so then I had to retake it. And then I scored a point lower than the one that expired.

Then I decided to take a year off before reapplying. I tried to study and retake it again, and I got the exact same score. It’s not ideal, but it’s also not terrible. But I’m just wondering if anywhere in my application, I should address that or if they’re going to interpret it how they’re going to interpret it?

A: When it comes to MCAT scores, different medical schools have varying policies. Some schools consider your latest score, while others take your highest score or even super score, similar to how SATs are handled.

It’s important to accept that each school has its own approach. Unfortunately, there are some schools that may discourage applicants who have taken the MCAT more than three times, which can be disappointing. Ultimately, you did your best and have what you have, so let the medical schools make their decisions based on their own criteria.

You could write something, but what is it going to do at the end of the day? Instead, think about what context will it give the reviewer to help them see your application. If the context is, you retook the test and got the same score several times. Then that’s not the context that changes anything. Because they can see your test and see that you got the same score multiple times. So it doesn’t add anything.

[02:52] Tips for Answering Casper and PREview Questions

Q: “The other thing coming close is preparing for the Casper and PREview tests because I when I took them last time, I scored very, very low. Maybe I need to improve my typing a bit. I also think I need to figure out how to better answer the questions. There were some questions where I just ran out of time, and I didn’t have much or any answers for them.”


Answering Casper Questions

Let’s use the sample one that they have on their website. You’re working in a group, but as part of your class project, and one of the students isn’t like, holding their own. And you see on their Instagram account or their social media, they’re off in the Caribbean hanging out on the beach or something. How do you respond to that situation?

This student answers that she’s going to try to get nosy about things. She would just pull her weight and if she needed to take up other people’s slack, she would. And there’s the mistake.

The mistake is just assuming that you just have to do whatever – versus real life. Of course, you would want to know what’s going on. You don’t have to say you need to have empathy. But you need to understand what’s going on. And so, you could ask the person that you noticed them not pulling their weight and ask if they’re okay. Come from a place of understanding, before you get to your answer of doing what’s necessary to make the project work. And so, by being “nosy,” you’ve got to try to understand what’s going on.

“The least proper way to answer Casper questions is by just stating the answer. How you get maximum scores on Casper is by going through your thought process.”Click To Tweet

Answering PREview Questions

PREview is completely different because you can’t talk about your thought process. You just have to assume how to answer the question like a faculty member at the medical school would.

With, Casper you can give your thought process. You may end up a little bit different in terms of final response. But the thought process checks all the boxes. And so, you get as many points as possible. Whereas with PREview, you have to know the answer, which is actually absurd.

It’s a horrible situational judgment test because that’s not how the real world works in terms of what you do and how you respond. It’s based on your lived experience.

Everything in our life is based on what is the answer, and Casper flips that on its head. They don’t really care about the answer, but they want you to show your work.

[08:47] Getting Your LORs

Q: “I sent out letters of recommendation over a month ago, and about half of them have gotten back. And they’ve been using myLORS, which has been great. Also, I appreciate the QA check, because I’ve had a couple of letters come back. I got half of them back. But the other half, I reached out and still haven’t heard anything. But I was just wondering, what timeframe Should I ask letters to be in so that it doesn’t hinder the application timeline?”

A: Ideally, as soon as possible, for your peace of mind. And so, you’re not stressing about it, especially the ones that are pivotal to meeting the requirements of a medical school. But at the end of the day, if letters are done, and complete, it’s going to depend on the application service. TMDAS and AACOMAS are a little bit earlier, probably mid-June for those. But for AMCAS, it’s probably mid-July, so you have a little bit more flexibility. A lot of pre-health committees at universities will send in their committee letter in mid-August. And that’s just when we submit it.

And so, the earlier, the better just for peace of mind. But mid-June, mid-July, and even a little bit later is probably still fine in the grand scheme of things.

Most medical schools look at applications in a way to say is the application complete. If it’s complete and passes whatever filters they have, then they’re going to look at it. Complete means primary application, secondary application, MCAT score (not pending), and LORs. And so, typically, it’s those four things. And then potentially Casper and PREview, depending on how they use Casper and/or PREview in their application process.

“Primary, secondary, MCAT score, and LORs – if those four things are in, the application is marked complete. Then someone will review it, assuming it passes all the other processes.”Click To Tweet




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