So, you’ve got your sights set on med school, which means tackling the MCAT. MCAT is the gatekeeper to your future in medicine. But what about all the fuss about the MCAT score? Is it just a number, or does it hold the keys to your dream career?

Whether you’re gearing up to take the test or just curious about what all the hype’s about, come along for the ride. Let’s find out what is a good MCAT score for medical school and more.

What is the MCAT?

doctor with good MCAT score

The MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) is a standardized examination required for admission to medical schools in the United States and Canada.

It assesses a candidate’s knowledge and skills in biological and biochemical foundations of living systems, chemical and physical foundations of biological systems, psychological, social, and biological foundations of behavior, and critical analysis and reasoning skills.

What is a Good MCAT Score for Medical School

A good MCAT score for medical schools is one that places you near or above the average percentile for matriculants at your target medical schools. For comparison, the average MCAT score for students admitted to an MD program in the United States in 2022–2023 is between 511 and 512, with an average GPA of 3.75.

Medical school admission experts recommend aiming for a total score of 511 or above, which, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), places you in the 81st percentile of MCAT scores.

The highest possible MCAT score is 528. Each section is scored on a scale of 118–132, and the total score ranges from 472–528. It’s important to note that the scale can vary slightly between different test versions due to varying difficulty levels.

MCAT Percentiles 2023–2024

Upon receiving your MCAT score, you’ll also be provided with a percentile rank, which helps you compare your performance with that of fellow test takers. 

Remember, the higher your MCAT percentile, the stronger your performance stands among your peers.

Here is the latest MCAT percentile ranks released by AAMC:

MCAT TOTAL SCOREMCAT PERCENTILE RANK
524–528100
522–52399
52198
52097
51996
51895
51794
51692
51590
51488
51386
51283
51181
51078
50975
50872
50769
50666
50562
50459
50356
50252
50149
50046
49943
49736
49633
49531
49428
49325
49223
49120
49018
48916
48814
48712
48611
4859
4848
4836
4825
4814
480–4793
4782
477–4751
474–472<1

How to Study for a Good MCAT Score?

Excelling in the MCAT requires a strategic approach that goes beyond mere memorization. To pave your path towards a remarkable MCAT score, consider implementing these essential strategies:

  • Find Your Baseline – Start by taking a full-length practice test to assess your current level and identify areas for improvement. This will help you focus your study efforts more effectively
  • Don’t Sacrifice Practice for Content Review – While knowing your science content is crucial, the MCAT also tests your ability to apply knowledge to new situations and reason out arguments. Balance content review with practice to improve these skills.
  • Focus on Accuracy Over Speed – Begin with untimed practice to improve accuracy. As you become more familiar with the material, start timing your practice to work on speed without sacrificing accuracy.
  • Build Stamina – Prepare for the test day by gradually increasing the duration of your practice sessions with shorter breaks. This will help you maintain concentration for the full length of the test.
  • Take as Many Full-length Practice Tests as Possible – Experience is vital to building confidence. The more practice tests you take, the more comfortable you’ll become with the format and types of questions.
  • Simulate Real MCAT Conditions – Practice under conditions similar to the actual test, including taking breaks between sections and not having food or water during the test unless on a break. 
  • Practice Dealing With Distractions – Test your ability to focus in less-than-ideal conditions, such as in a noisy coffee shop or a busy library. It will help you manage distractions on test day.
  • Manage Your Stress – Ensure you have time for relaxation and physical activity in your study schedule. Burnout can hinder your ability to perform well on the test.
  • Evaluate Your Work – After each practice test, analyze your performance. Identify patterns in the questions you miss, the types of passages that slow you down, and the answer traps you fall into. Use this information to refine your study strategy.
  • Analyze Even Your Correct Answers – Don’t just focus on the questions you got wrong. Analyze your correct answers to understand your strengths and areas where you might avoid common traps. 

How Important is a Good MCAT Score?

A good MCAT score is crucial for medical school applicants as it significantly influences admission outcomes. The importance of a good MCAT score varies depending on the medical schools you are applying to.

However, while a good MCAT score is essential, it is not the only factor medical schools consider. Your overall academic record, including your GPA, letters of recommendation, experiences related to the medical field, extracurricular activities, and personal statement, also play significant roles in the admissions process.

If your GPA is not as strong, aiming for a higher MCAT score can help compensate for this. Conversely, a slightly lower MCAT score might still be acceptable if your GPA is high.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the MCAT plays a critical role in the medical school admissions process, serving as a standardized measure of an applicant’s readiness for the rigors of medical education. A good MCAT score, typically around or above 511, places applicants in a competitive position among their peers. However, it’s important to recognize that while a strong MCAT score is vital, it is just one component of a comprehensive application.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Should I retake the MCAT?

The decision about whether to retake the MCAT is a personal one based on your target schools, self-efficacy, and educational goals. Each MCAT exam is a time-consuming and costly investment, so it is important to weigh the decision carefully before retaking the exam. You may want to retake the MCAT if:

  • You believe you have the ability to score considerably higher on your next test and you have the time and resources to help you achieve a higher score.
  • Your current MCAT score is significantly below average for most of the medical schools you are targeting.
  • The other elements of your application, including GPA, letters of recommendation, and previous experience, are not as competitive as you would like in compensating for a lower MCAT score.

How many times can I take the MCAT exam?

Fortunately, even if you don’t score as highly as you would like on your first attempt, you can take the MCAT more than once. AAMC rules allow students to take the MCAT up to 3 times in a single year, 4 times in two consecutive years, or 7 times in a lifetime. Given these restrictions and how schools tend to view multiple test attempts, you should carefully consider your options for retaking the exam and use your retesting attempts wisely.

What is the most difficult section of the MCAT?

While the answer to this question is primarily an opinion, more students tend to have lower scores in the CARS and psychological/social sections of the test. This is likely because many medical school applicants come from science-based undergraduate programs and have higher levels of familiarity and efficacy in the more science-heavy sections of the test. The best approach to raising your MCAT score is to use practice tests to identify the section(s) that are most difficult for you personally, then study to raise your score on those sections.