What Is the Average MCAT Score?
- Jun 28, 2022
- MCAT Blog
- Reviewed By: Liz Flagge
So you’re preparing to take the MCAT. Great! But when it comes to preparing for med school you might have a lot of questions regarding the MCAT exam, like when to take the MCAT, whether you can submit your application before receiving your score, what’s the difference between the MCAT and LSAT, etc.
One question everyone asks is “what is an average score?” How does that factor in to your chance at being accepted into your favorite school?
Read on to learn what’s considered a “good” MCAT score and how MCAT prep can help you reach it.
How Does MCAT Scoring Work?
There are a few things you need to know about the MCAT scoring system before we jump in to discussing the averages. The highest possible score on the MCAT is 528, and the scale is set so that 500 is the average MCAT score. This scaling means that when you take the test, you’ll have two different numbers: your raw score and your scaled score.
Your raw score is based solely on the number of questions you got right. This number is then put into the scale to determine your actual score.The exact formula for scaling will be different for each section and each sitting of the test, because each administration of the test is a little bit different. What you can count on is that each section is scored on a scale of 118 to 132, and your total MCAT score will be somewhere between 472 and 528 (hopefully towards the high end)!
Along with your raw and scaled scores, you’ll receive a percentile for each section and for the exam as a whole. This describes your performance in relation to other students who took the test. For example, a 520 score in the 2018-2019 academic year would be in the 98th percentile rank, meaning a higher score than 98 percent of other test takers.
What Does an MCAT Score Mean?
That’s a lot of numbers and information to get from just one test. But your MCAT isn’t the only thing admissions teams consider when you’re applying to medical school. The strength of your admissions packet, combined with the requirements of the schools you’re applying to, will determine what your goal score should be. So let’s look at what your score means and how you should determine a goal score.
What Is the Average MCAT Score?
500 is the center of the scaled curve, so the median MCAT score will always be 500. Keep in mind, this is the scaled score, not the raw score. Now, the AAMC suggests that admissions committees consider applicants near the middle of the range, rather than only admitting students with scores closer to 528. For context, Ivy League schools are often looking for a 516 or higher, although they do regularly admit students with lower scores.
How Does My Score Factor into Admissions?
Getting into a medical school isn’t solely determined by your MCAT score, although a great score can help. Admissions committees look at your entire application package. This includes your GPA, MCAT scores, personal statements, references, and experiences.
When preparing to study for the MCAT, take a look at your admissions package, especially your GPA. There are other factors that you can consider, but if you have a lower GPA, you’ll want to aim a little bit higher with your MCAT score.
Matriculant averages for different schools are available through the AAMC Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) database, so that you can decide what sort of score you need to be a viable applicant at your schools of choice.
Aiming for a score of 511 or higher will generally rank you above the 80th percentile, which is where highly competitive scores tend to begin. But, your references, variety of experiences, and the average GPA/score combination of a specific school’s matriculants are going to be your best indicator of where you should aim for a final result. Once you know that, how do you prepare for the MCAT?
How to Prepare for the MCAT
Alright, you understand how MCAT scores work, you’ve critically evaluated your application package, you’ve researched the scores for the schools you’re interested in, and you’ve picked your goal score. It’s time to finally start preparing for the MCAT. Where do you start?
Taking MCAT Practice Exams
MCAT prep is a significant part of reaching your goal score, and practice exams provide you with a test-like study experience. A good place to start can be taking a diagnostic exam right out of the gate. Don’t worry about trying to ace it. This test is just to give you an idea of your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to the MCAT.
Remember that the MCAT isn’t actually a knowledge test at its core, so don’t focus on memorizing hundreds of different individual facts right out the gate. When you begin studying, focus on how to work with the test itself, and review the required content gradually, over time. Once you choose a prep plan, the practice tests keep coming, and (hopefully) your score will increase as you practice and review!
Identifying Strengths and Weaknesses
There are a couple of ways to figure out where you’re strongest as you’re studying and practicing for the MCAT. You should not only be taking practice tests, but you should find review and prep resources that can guide you through individual sections of the test and the strategies they require. You’ll sit down with practice, work through it, then take the time to understand, not just what you got wrong but what reasoning led you to those conclusions and how to improve on that process. Lather, rinse, repeat, and your goal score will be around the corner!
And just as important as understanding your weaknesses is getting a sense of where your strengths lie on the MCAT. Not only will this help you decide where you can spend less time studying, but the MCAT often wants you to be able to look at elements of several different topics at the same time. This means that you can use your strength in the CARS section of the test to better understand the passages you have to read in chemistry or use your understanding of physics to bolster your understanding of biological systems. On the MCAT, just like in your body, everything’s connected.
Calling in Experts with Free and Paid Resources
Preparing for and taking the MCAT exam is a stressful process. Students spend anywhere from a couple of months to a year preparing for the test, and most students take it more than once. Having a support system is key. This can start with friends and family, but should also include those who understand this journey you’re on—fellow students who are preparing for the MCAT, trusted professors, tutors, and other resources. Having people and systems in place to help you optimize your studying, and to ensure that you take breaks, get rest, and stay healthy while you’re doing it, are incredibly important to your success. So be sure to get help making the plans you need to rocket past those MCAT averages to your goal score and the acceptance of your dreams!
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