Do I Have A Chance With a 496 MCAT?5

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OPM 331: Do I Have A Chance With a 496 MCAT?

Session 331

This student has a 496 MCAT but feels confident about the rest of the application. Should they apply now, or should they wait a year?

Questions answered here on the podcast are taken directly from Go ask your questions there and use #OPM or #nontrad.

Also, please be sure to check out all our other podcasts on Meded Media as we try to bring you as many resources as you need on this journey.

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

The MCAT Minute

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OldPreMeds Question of the Week

“I currently have a 3.6 science and a 3.5 cumulative GPA, and a 496 MCAT. Everything else about my application is at the standard I think – good LORs, average ECs, personal statement, etc. But the only major red flag is my MCAT score as a URM. Do I take my chance this cycle or should I wait a year and try the MCAT? Again, if I do wait a year, will doing an SMP be beneficial since my GPA isn’t the best or the worst? Or should I spend the year beefing up my EC hours and other things?”

The Definition of URM

Whether you’re changing careers or have a family, whatever the specific situation is, that adds a lot to the equation of what you have time for.

First, URM stands for underrepresented in medicine or underrepresented minority depending on the definition that you look at. There was a standard definition set by the AAMC many years ago, and that definition has now been pushed to the schools.

Race-Based Admissions

Every school sets its standards for who they’re looking for. And even in the age of affirmative action being disbarred or disbanded, whatever the language made illegal by the Supreme Court, basically, race-based admissions are still a thing. You can still talk about your race and how it affects you.

“Your experience as an underrepresented person and as a minority is still valuable, and still tells a story… it's even more imperative for you as a person to do that.”Click To Tweet

Correlation, not causation.

URM students generally have lower acceptance and lower matriculation MCAT scores. There’s a lot that goes into that though. You can’t just look at it as one variable and assume you have a lower MCAT score because you’re underrepresented.

You always want the best scores possible for you. Now, it’s very easy for schools to have cut-offs at 500 and you want to do better than that.

Should You Do an SMP?

Understanding Trends

If you say you have a 3.5 GPA from college, I don’t know what that means. You shouldn’t know what that means either. With all things being equal credits every semester across four years a 3.5 GPA could mean 4.0, 4.0, 3.0, and 3.0. That is a bad trend because you’re stumbling into medical school. Or your 3.5 could be a 3.0, 3.0, 4.0, and 4.0. In this case, you’ve raised the bar by creating an upward trend.

You are starting to show and possibly have shown academic ability, especially since those later years are the harder upper-division classes. 

Track Through Mappd

Whether you need to do an SMP or not actually depends. Instead, go to so you can actually track your GPA and see those trends. Then if you need some help interpreting those trends, we have Mappd Pro, which will allow you access to our advisors and ask questions right inside of the platform. See what your trends look like. Mappd Pro costs $90/year. Use the promo code OLDPREMEDS to get 60 days of free trial.

Extracurricular Activities

The nontraditional spin on this is all depends on what else you’re doing in life. Do you need to work a full-time job because you have mouths to feed and a roof to put over your head? Or do you have a supportive partner in this process, who could get the house covered?

Ultimately, it all depends on your specific situation, and what that process looks like for you. And I said FOR YOU because this process is individualized. There’s no right or wrong typically for most people, as long as you understand your strengths and weaknesses.

“This process is individualized. There's no right or wrong typically for most people, as long as you understand your strengths and weaknesses.”Click To Tweet

What’s important is that you understand your availability to do things and your flexibility in life, especially as a nontraditional student. You understand your journey and what to do to make things work for you.

The Importance of MCAT Scores in Med School Admissions

When it comes to the medical school admissions process, many students tend to overthink and stress about their performance. However, the reality is that being yourself and presenting a strong application is what truly matters. While demonstrating academic capability and the ability to handle challenging exams like the MCAT is important, it is essential to understand the significance of these scores.

The Validity of the MCAT

The MCAT, although I personally find it to be quite asinine, does hold some validity. It showcases your capacity to tackle a rigorous test, which is crucial because medical school itself entails facing several more demanding exams. Whether you pursue an MD or DO degree, you will encounter significant hurdles such as the USMLE board exams. In fact, if you choose the DO route, you may face six major exams due to the COMLEX series.

'You need to show academic capability... and you need to show that you can handle a really big test like the MCAT.'Click To Tweet

While the MCAT may not be identical to the board exams, it does serve as an indicator of your ability to perform well under pressure. Some might argue that the board exams, especially Step 1, are more challenging than the MCAT. However, in my opinion, the MCAT presents its own unique set of difficulties. Thus, performing well on the MCAT plays a significant role in this equation.

Meeting the Bare Minimum Requirement

For certain students, achieving a score of 496 on the MCAT may barely meet the minimum requirements of some schools. However, it is important to note that I have witnessed students with a 496 gain admission and excel in medical school.

A score does not determine your potential to become a fantastic doctor who positively impacts patients’ lives.

That being said, it is undeniable that a score of 496 may limit your options when it comes to medical school acceptance. Unfortunately, this score often closes doors to many institutions. This is the perspective I adopt when considering the impact of MCAT scores on admissions.


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