Retake the MCAT: The factors you should consider

Written by Jack Westin on Sep 26, 2015

Whether or not you should retake the MCAT really depends on multiple factors. If you scored a 127 on each section, definitely do not retake. Medical schools want to see that you can break a 508. (That’s the old “30” on the old MCAT). If you scored 508 by receiving 127/127/127/127 that tells schools that you passed each section with a “B”. Will a B get you into Harvard? Not likely, unless you have a stellar application (personal statement and activities, specifically a great research background), interview well and a 3.8 GPA or above. But not every student wants to go to Harvard or a top school. If you just want to get into a US medical school, a 508 should get you into at least one or two as long as you apply broadly. Broadly is the keyword here. So definitely do not retake the MCAT or rewrite the MCAT if you scored a 508 or higher and received a 127 or higher on each section.

508 MCAT Score – The new 30

Typically, students who averaged 508 and still want to retake the MCAT argue that their GPA is not as high or that they really don’t have many good activities. This is a fair argument to make. If your GPA is 3.5 or higher, do not retake the MCAT. Focus on other parts of your application. I say this because you have made a majority if not all of the screening cutoffs for secondaries with your current score. Retaking the MCAT and doing a little better is not worth your time. Your scores are only a portion of what admissions committees will look at in order to determine your fate. Just because you have a 4.0 and a 520 doesn’t mean you’re going to automatically be accepted. Obviously those scores are impressive but admissions does not consider such score differences significant enough to offer the higher scorer an admission. What matters at that point is the rest of your application. But if your GPA is below a 3.5 but above 3.3, consider retaking only if you know your application is not going to be strong. Definitely retake if your GPA is 3.3 or lower and try to get a 512 or higher.

If you scored below a 127 on two or more sections, definitely rewrite the MCAT, regardless of how strong your application is. However, if you are applying to DO schools, you will OK as long as your application is at least mediocre.

If you happened to get 127 or above for every section except one, whether or not you should retake the MCAT really depends. Is the score for that section lower than a 125? If so, you should most likely retake. Medical schools like to see a roughly equivalent, high number (127 or above) for each section.

I would say a 125 or higher isn’t so bad if you scored a 127 or higher on the other sections. If you scored below a 127 in only one section, you most likely scored lowest in the CARS section. As an MCAT tutor who specializes in CARS, I see this often with my students. If this is you, I have good and not so good news for you. The good news is that you can definitely improve your CARS score. The fact that you are capable of scoring 127 or higher on the other sections of the exam tells me you are more than capable of getting a 127 or higher on CARS. If you can improve your CARS score, your other sections will improve too. The entire exam is passage-based. When you learn how to approach CARS the right way, you’ll easily see improvement on the other sections. This has happened to hundreds of my students. The not so good news is that you will need to retake the MCAT, and that alone is a struggle.

Retaking the MCAT is tough. You originally set aside so much time to study for the MCAT the first time around to find yourself restudying for it. You told all your friends and family you were studying and now you have to somehow tell them you have to retake the MCAT. You planned out the rest of your year thinking the MCAT was a one time deal / experience. But then you saw your score. At first, you’re shocked. Then, you get depressed for a couple of hours. But eventually, you realize that it’s not the end of the world. And it really isn’t. Restudying for the MCAT is actually something a majority of students have to do. It makes you smarter and it also makes you a better student.

Retake the MCAT with confidence

Some students who ask themselves, “Should I retake the MCAT?” become worried. They see retaking the MCAT as a burden because they are still in school or they don’t want to lose a whole year and have to apply a year later. Others have work or research obligations- various plans they set up for the entire year. I recommend that you do not cancel these arrangements. Just finish what you planned, (especially graduation) and study for the MCAT when you have at least 3-4 months uninterrupted time to study. Retake the MCAT with confidence. As long as you focus on your weaknesses and maintain your strengths, you will improve.

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