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Do Medical Schools Look at Your Highest MCAT Score?

Do Medical Schools Look at Your Highest MCAT Score?

By Nikhil Jaganathan

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a beast of an exam, and calculated decisions and adequate knowledge about setting goals is fundamental. One of the most commonly asked questions regarding MCAT preparation is how medical school admissions offices view your MCAT score. We’ll break it down for you!

Med Schools See All Your MCAT Scores

For those of you new to the medical school application process, the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) requires students to report all MCAT scores unless a score has been voided. 

Ultimately, how a medical school gauges your MCAT exam scores varies based on the med school, so researching the options that you are interested in and their preferences is crucial for your medical education. 

How Do Med Schools Look at Multiple Scores?

Most medical schools  

1) use your highest MCAT score and the score breakdown from this highest score (which is a good thing), 

2) look at your most recent MCAT score report (which can have its drawbacks), or 

3) look at the trend in your MCAT performance. 

An approximately equal number of schools look at the highest MCAT score versus the most recent MCAT score report. Still, some schools look at multiple scores and evaluate how the scores have changed over time or even determine the average score. 

Do Medical Schools Use Superscores?

What is a superscore? A superscore is the highest score from each section of multiple tests taken over time. 

Typically, medical schools do not use superscores for evaluating the MCAT, so don’t rely on just improving one section when you retake the MCAT. Don’t neglect the other sections while focusing on a weak section because your score will likely drop in the other sections without frequent review, and just improving in one section will not impress medical schools. 

This means your goal when retaking the MCAT should be toward OVERALL and SUBSTANTIAL improvement, not just a couple points in a particular section. If your goal is to improve your MCAT score, it is doable! You just need to invest the time and effort to ensure that the time spent studying is toward meaningful improvement. 

What’s the Average MCAT Score? 

The average MCAT score for test-takers in 2023-2024 is 501. The current national average MCAT score for medical school (M.D.) matriculants is 511.9. Although this might seem like a good MCAT score at first glance, keep in mind that this score is not a definite cutoff that decides whether you get into med school. However, competitive medical school applicants should aim for a 515+ MCAT score

Consider which schools you plan on applying to. Countless factors, including extracurricular activities, medical school interviews, and essays, all factor in admissions, so consider whether to focus on dedicating countless hours on MCAT prep versus other pre-medical experiences. 

How Many Future Medical Students Retake the MCAT?

Based on Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) data, 38 percent of medical student hopefuls completing the MCAT between 2018 and 2020 were retaking the MCAT. Out of this group of MCAT test takers, for individuals who initially scored 517 or lower, the median or good MCAT score range improvement was 3-4 points. 

However, for individuals who initially scored above 517, the median score improvement was 0, so it may be wise to avoid retaking the MCAT if you scored above 517 and focus your efforts on improving your profile elsewhere. If you scored under 517, you have a solid chance at improving your score significantly, but, to do so, you must be willing to afford time and dedication to this task. 

Should You Retake the MCAT?

Even if you took the MCAT once and earned a great score or close to the average MCAT score, if you decide on an MCAT retake, consider both the pros and cons of doing so. The AAMC limits the number of times you can take the MCAT to 3 times in one year, 4 times in 2 years, and 7 times in your lifetime, so planning your MCAT exams can affect your medical school application cycle. 

Most importantly, take the MCAT seriously, whether this is your first, second, or even fourth time taking it. Ultimately, retaking the MCAT is not necessarily a negative, but avoiding a decline in your score through consistent and strategic practice is key. Practicing on an MCAT diagnostic test may be a better option before you do an MCAT retake or not retaking MCAT.

Remember, if you decide to retake the Medical School Admission Test, be confident in your decision! Be confident in your ability to improve! With dedication and focus, the sky’s the limit for growth. 

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