MCAT Scoring: What is an Acceptable Range?

The MCAT is composed of the following four sections:

  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems (CPBS)
    • MCAT General Chemistry: Everything You Need to Know
    • MCAT Organic Chemistry: Everything You Need to Know
    • MCAT Physics: Everything You Need to Know
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS)
    • MCAT CARS: Strategies from a 528 Scorer
  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems (BBLS)
    • MCAT Biology: Everything You Need to Know
    • MCAT Biochemistry: Everything You Need to Know
  • Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior (PSBB)
    • MCAT Psychology and Sociology: Everything You Need to Know

Your MCAT results from all four parts will yield a scaled score that takes into account the difficulty of questions answered correctly and poorly. In other words, properly answering two distinct sets of 30 questions will result in different scaled scores.

The MCAT was developed to take item difficulty into consideration in order to better evaluate your “real mastery” of the content being examined. You will get more “mastery points” if you successfully answer harder questions as opposed to easy questions. In contrast, if you miss easy questions, you will be penalised more severely than if you miss more difficult ones.

What is the MCAT out of?

MCAT scoring

Your MCAT total score will vary from 472 to 528, with 500 being the norm. Each of the four MCAT parts is scored between 118 and 132, with 125 representing the average (50th percentile) score for each component.

What is the highest MCAT score?

The highest possible MCAT score is 528, which corresponds to the 99.9%ile. Anything above 520 is a 99th percentile or better score.

What score should I aim for on the MCAT?

528! Why not aim lower?

We’re just partly kidding—clearly, it’s more difficult than that! When deciding on a target score, you must consider two factors: the prerequisites of the institutions you are considering, as well as the link between your undergraduate GPA and your MCAT score.

Having a high MCAT score will obviously help you wherever you apply. However, each institution has its own set of criteria. Examine the data from a school’s incoming class while constructing a school list. This will give you a fair sense of what you should strive for on the MCAT. A score in the 75th percentile of a particular school’s accepted class is ideal, but a score no lower than the 50th percentile will suffice.

Adcoms evaluate your academic aptitude based on a mix of your MCAT score and GPA. This kind of thinking might help you figure out what MCAT score you need. If your GPA is in the 50th percentile or lower, you should strive for an MCAT score in the 75th percentile. However, if your GPA is in the 75th percentile, a lower MCAT score may not be a deal-breaker.

Getting a 528, on the other hand, implies you don’t even have to ask the question. We urge you to establish a high standard for yourself in order to succeed in the test.

What is a Good MCAT Score?

MCAT scoring

The actual answer to this question, like so many others in the medical school admissions process, is, “It depends.”

When evaluating applicants, admissions committees use a “holistic review,” which means they consider all of your medical school requirements, including grades (including undergraduate institution attended), extracurricular activities and achievements (i.e., AMCAS Work and Activities section), journey to medicine (via personal statement), fit (via secondary application essays), and letters of recommendation.

Furthermore, each medical school receives applications from applicants with various levels of academic achievement, MCAT scores, and experience. As a result, MCAT results that are competitive at one institution may not be competitive at another. For example, depending on your GPA, a 514 MCAT score may be adequate for UT Southwestern Medical School (515 average MCAT score) and other Texas medical schools, but not for NYU Medical School (522 average MCAT score).

A “good and acceptable MCAT score” will thus be determined by the strength of the other components of your application, as well as the institutions to which you plan to apply (e.g., top-25 only vs. top-50; M.D. only vs. D.O. only vs. M.D. and D.O.).

Which Medical Schools to Apply to School Based on Your Numbers?

Assuming a good cumulative GPA (i.e., 3.5-3.6) and well-written application essays, we suggest the following rough program breakdowns depending on your MCAT total score:

  • 510+: 100% M.D. programs; 0% D.O. programs
  • 505-509: 75% M.D. programs, 25% D.O. programs
  • 500-504: 25-50% M.D. programs; 50-75% D.O. programs
  • Below 500: 0-25% M.D. programs; 75-100% D.O. programs

Of course, these percentages should be adjusted based on your GPA. In particular, if your total GPA is 3.7 or above, you should apply to a greater percentage of M.D. schools. If, on the other hand, your cumulative GPA is 3.4 or lower, you should apply to a greater percentage of D.O. programs.

These recommendations are based on the assumption that you want to pursue a medical degree. If you find that this assumption does not apply to you, please adjust the percentages accordingly.

Furthermore, while M.D. schools are usually more difficult than D.O. programs in terms of GPA and MCAT scores, some D.O. programs may have higher stats requirements than others. If this is the case for any of the institutions on your list, you should adjust the proposed percentages appropriately. In conclusion, depending on how conservative you want to be, you should modify the competitiveness of your total school list.

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