In today’s episode, we answer a question from a student who got a 504 on the MCAT and doesn’t know whether to retake the exam or not.
We discuss how to decide whether to retake the MCAT, as well as the minimum MCAT scores and section scores required by different medical schools.
Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.
OldPreMeds Question of the Week
As usual on the OldPreMeds Podcast, our question is taken from the Nontrad Premed Forum.
Our poster today is a student who is working full time and with two boys. She took the MCAT for the first time in September (which is a bit late), and received her score in October.
She got an MCAT score of 504, and she’s trying to figure out what to do next. She’s been looking at the medical schools she’s interested in applying to, but only one of them had a minimum percentile listed.
The ultimate rule for the MCAT:
Do not take the MCAT until you are ready. How do you determine when you’re ready to take the MCAT?
To start with, you should have completed the prerequisites to have a sound foundation in the basic sciences and other subjects. You also have to get a hang of the timing for the exam. You have to take practice tests in a realistic way, timing yourself and doing the full exam.
In the end, it needs to come down to what you’re scoring on your practice tests. When you are scoring near your goal scores on your practice tests, or at least you are scoring well enough that you would apply to medical school with those scores, that’s when you should take the MCAT.In the end, whether you're ready to take the MCAT comes down to what you're scoring on your practice tests.Click To Tweet
For more on how to determine if you’re ready to take the MCAT, listen to episode 37 of The MCAT Podcast.
How medical schools screen MCAT scores:
Most schools don’t have a strict minimum score that they accept for the MCAT. But when they screen the applicants, some schools do have a minimum score to send you a secondary application.Most schools don't have a strict minimum score that they accept for the MCAT. Click To Tweet
Other schools may have a formula that takes your GPA and MCAT together, and they review applications based on a minimum score from that calculation.
An application that does not make their minimum scores can still be manually reviewed. This is why I often tell students to contact the medical schools and advocate for yourself, especially if you have a GPA below 3.0, as that is a common filter.
[Related episode: Should I Meet with Admissions Committees Before I Apply?]
What is the minimum MCAT score for students accepted to medical school?
Scoring around 124 or 125 in each subsection of the MCAT should be considered about the minimum. If you listen to episode 51 of The MCAT Podcast, we talk about what makes a competitive MCAT score. Then when new statistics came out the next year, we had to update that in episode 93.
The average MCAT score for students who are successfully matriculating into medical school is 511, as of the 2017-18 data. But 511 is not the minimum MCAT score—that’s the average for accepted students.
I’ve seen students get into medical school with MCAT scores below 500, but it’s obviously less common. Some schools are going to filter out your application if your MCAT score is below 500.Some medical schools are going to filter out your application if your MCAT score is below 500. Click To Tweet
With a 504 MCAT score, you should get through the filters, but if you have a very low section score below 124 or 125, that could be more of a problem.
[Related episode: How Will an Unbalanced MCAT Score Affect Me?]
How do you succeed on your MCAT retake?
- Consider quitting your job to study full-time for the MCAT.
- Do your MCAT prep over a longer period this time.
- Whatever method you pick, have a disciplined study routine.
- You can use Cram Fighter to make a study plan.
- Next Step Test Prep also includes a study-planning tool with their MCAT course.
- Do not take the MCAT until you’re ready.
- Make sure you’re solid two weeks before the exam and ready to go.
- Then dial it in with these last minute MCAT tips.
Major takeaway from this episode:
Take the MCAT only when you’re ready. You probably don’t need to retake the MCAT if you got a 504, but that’s just our opinion. If you do retake the MCAT, make sure your score improves! You need to be prepared. Respect the MCAT, have a plan, and follow through.You probably don't need to retake the MCAT if you got a 504, but that's just our opinion.Click To Tweet
Links and Other Resources
- Check out my Premed Playbook series of books (available on Amazon), with installments on the personal statement, the medical school interview, and the MCAT.
- Related episode: MCAT Retakes: Change and Improve to Get the Score You Want.
- Related episode: How Can I Improve My CARS MCAT Score?
- Need MCAT Prep? Save on tutoring, classes, and full-length practice tests by using promo code “MSHQ” at Next Step Test Prep!
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