Students looking to attend medical school must take the MCAT—Medical School Admissions Test. This test checks whether you have what it takes to become a doctor, and it includes areas like knowledge of science, understanding of complicated ideas, and solving problems — things doctors need to be good at.

Medical schools look at your MCAT score to decide if you’re ready to become a doctor, and you get more than one try to succeed. However, knowing how to approach retaking the test can make a difference in your performance. The goal is to improve with each try, and we’re here to tell you how.

If you’re wondering “How many times can you take the MCAT?” then you’ve landed on the right page. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore this topic as well as what to consider as a retester.

How Many Times Can You Take the MCAT in a Year?

The MCAT, a test for medical school admission, can typically be taken up to three times a year, four times across two calendar years. It is a policy regulated by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), which develops and monitors the test. Though it might seem limiting, this standardized test requires heavy preparation, which means that aspiring students need to dedicate quite a bit of time to passing. 

This limit makes it essential to plan and prepare carefully before retaking the test. Each attempt should be made with the intention to improve and achieve the best possible score, considering the time and effort involved in preparation. Strategic planning includes understanding your weak areas, practicing with purpose, and seeking additional resources or guidance. Breaking down all sections of MCAT and knowing each of their focus can also guide you towards better results. Doing well on the MCAT is crucial for medical school applications, so maximizing each opportunity to take the test is important.

How Many Times Can You Take the MCAT in a Lifetime?

You are allowed to take the MCAT up to seven times in a lifetime. This cap means you have to be thoughtful about when and how often you attempt it. With attempts running out, the pressure to exercise properly is even more intense. If you reach the seven-tries limit, you cannot take the test again, which could affect your chances of getting into medical school if your scores aren’t competitive. 

Therefore, it’s crucial to prepare thoroughly for each attempt, aiming for the best score possible every time. This doesn’t mean hitting the books harder, but having a strategic approach to studying and test-taking. Exceeding this lifetime limit without achieving a strong score could limit your medical school options and impact your future career in medicine.

That’s why it’s about making intelligent choices about when to retake the test, how to prepare differently, and knowing when you’re truly ready to improve your score. This careful planning and preparation can significantly impact your medical school journey and future career in the healthcare field.

How Do Retesters’ Scores Change When They Retake the MCAT?

With each attempt to succeed in your MCAT, you should aim to surpass your previous score. When people retake the test, their scores can go up or down or stay the same. How much someone’s score changes usually depends on a few factors, with each influencing the overall outcome.

One big factor is additional preparation. If someone studies more or in a better way than before, focusing on their weak spots and practicing a lot, their score is likely to improve. Getting help from tutors or taking prep courses can also make a big difference. Knowing how to study for the MCAT paves the way to satisfactory achievements.

Another important factor is test-taking strategies. Learning how to manage time during the test, approach difficult questions, and stay calm can help increase scores. This is a skill that can be learned over time, especially for MCAT retakers. Sometimes, just being familiar with the test format and knowing what to expect can improve performance.

However, scores can also drop if someone doesn’t prepare enough, is stressed on test day, or has a bad test experience. That’s why it’s crucial to create a study plan and study the material effectively, as well as work on test-taking skills and stress management. Given the limits on how many times you can take the MCAT, making each try count is essential.

How Admissions Officers Handle MCAT Scores From Retesters


College admissions officers handle retesters’ MCAT scores in different ways. While some focus solely on a particular attempt, others look at the bigger picture to gauge the applicants’ abilities and growth.

For instance, some committees use all exam scores across every attempt, along with information on the behind-the-scenes process that led the student to this result. It means they take into account the academic preparation behind those attempts to understand why your scores might have changed. Other schools might only look at your latest score or just pick your highest score to consider. There are also some schools that add up all your scores and find the average to decide. At the end of the day, each committee evaluates applicants’ scores their own way.

Your performance in the MCAT says a lot about you. If your scores improve with each attempt, it shows that you can identify your weaknesses, work hard, and improve. However, if your scores vary a lot between attempts or if there’s a significant drop, admissions officers will notice that too. It doesn’t automatically mean you won’t get in, but it might raise questions. This is why it’s important to explain any big differences in your scores when you apply.

Overall, medical schools want to see that you’re not only smart but also resilient and capable of improvement. Therefore, it is crucial to understand what is a good MCAT score and work towards attaining that result. 

When to Consider Retaking the MCAT

Deciding when to take the MCAT is a big decision for future doctors. You might think about it if you know you can really do better, or if your first score was lower than what most medical schools expect. If you feel like you didn’t show your best self the first time, maybe because you were super nervous or didn’t study a certain part enough, then trying again could be a good idea.

Before you jump back in, it’s crucial to figure out if you’re ready to tackle the test again. This means taking a good look at where you didn’t do so well before and making a solid plan to improve. Maybe you need to study certain topics more, get some help from a tutor, or work on test-taking strategies to manage your time and stress better.

Improving your score can really boost your chances of getting into medical school, but only if you’re truly prepared to do better. Jumping into a retake without fixing your weak spots or changing how you study won’t help much. So, take the time to prepare and make sure you’re ready before your MCAT test date.


The MCAT has strict retake limits: three times a year, four times over two years, and seven times a lifetime. Hitting the cap without competitive scores can narrow your medical school options, emphasizing the need for strategic preparation for each attempt. Give yourself time! Before deciding to retake the MCAT, assess your readiness and address any weaknesses. Engage with pre-health advisors or mentors for tailored advice and support. Let this guide inspire you to approach MCAT preparation with a well-thought-out plan.

Ready to improve your score? Start planning your strategy today and make each attempt count. And once you’re beyond this point, take some time to explore our MD program for further advancement in medicine. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

How long should I wait before retaking the MCAT if I’m not satisfied with my score?

It’s advisable to wait at least several months before retaking the MCAT to allow ample time for thorough preparation and addressing any weak areas. This period also helps in mentally resetting after the previous attempt.

Will medical schools view multiple MCAT attempts as a lack of preparedness or dedication?

Medical schools typically understand that retaking the MCAT can reflect dedication to improving one’s score; however, multiple attempts without significant improvement might raise concerns about preparedness and test-taking strategy.