What Is A Good MCAT Score? |See The Breakdown On How to Get It

what-is-a-good-mcat-score

What Is A Good MCAT Score: Are you interested in studying medicine? and perhaps, you are preparing for your MCAT exams?

well, I’m sure you will want to know What Is A Good MCAT Score ? as this can keep your mind on task when preparing for the exams.

Owing to the fact, that there is numerous false information when it comes to MCAT scoring.

In this article, we’re going to cover not only everything about how MCAT is scored, but most importantly, how you can use this information shared to build your Score Goal if you are preparing for your MCAT exams and then show you how to get it.

First off, we’d like to quickly say that it is very wise of you to do this research in advance! You are way ahead of most other MCAT test-takers.

Over the years we have studied countless MCAT scorers above 90 percentiles, and they have always made such efforts to prepare for MCAT intelligently, not just by hard work.

Smart preparation means familiarizing yourself with the structure of the MCAT assessment so you can get a feel for what you are dealing with.

This shows that you are thinking of a higher score as the average MCAT test candidate goes straight to the MCAT study. without preparation and planning.

As I said, great work! Now let’s take a look at exactly how the MCAT is scored, find out exactly how to achieve the MCAT score you want, and how to effectively achieve that goal without going through all of the stress most premeds go through.

Why Is The MCAT Score Important?

Well, the importance of your MCAT score can not be overemphasized as it is like your key to the kingdom.

Usually, medical schools are looking to find a complete student. A student that has all boxes ticked in their requirement book.

First, they look at your MCAT score and your GPA. Other things they look for are your extracurricular activities, your medical experiences such as volunteer work and research, your leadership, and your overall exposure.

They also review your personal statement, letters of recommendation, and assess you in admissions interviews.

At the top of this list, your MCAT score plays an important role in your admission to medical school, as committees are selective, prompting some programs to have minimum MCAT score requirements.

After all, it provides insight into how you will fare in medical school and your licensing exams in the future.

Now, before you can continue creating your MCAT study plan, any candidate must first understand that the key to passing this exam is to aim for a good MCAT score. Having a good score gives you more chances and therefore more choices of medical schools that you can attend.

But to get that good score, we need to understand how MCAT scoring works and how MCAT is scored.

How The MCAT Is Scored

One good question any pre-med student should ask is How Does MCAT Scoring Work?

perhaps, you are coming from a family of doctors and you may have wondered walking in their shoes means you having to ask them some of these tough questions.

But sometimes they end up not giving you a satisfactory answer.

The Medical College Admissions Test, also known as MCAT, is a standardized test that weighs heavily on your overall application.

While it’s not the only thing that medical schools look into, it does have the distinction of being one of the only ways to compare your capabilities to that of other students objectively. MCAT Scoring Work?

All other med school requirements are subjective due to different schools, courses, and learning styles.

Thanks to the standardized nature of the MCAT, schools can get a better picture of your knowledge and academic skills. Your score is the first barrier to entry and ultimately it will play a role in whether or not you advance to the next stage of the admissions process.

Most students are familiar with the concept of standardized testing. However, the MCAT follows a unique grading system. It does not assign letter-based grades and does not even follow the usual notation conventions from zero to 100.

Four Sections MCAT Exams is Scored On

The MCAT is a tiered exam and is graded based on the difficulty of answering questions. That brings us to an understanding of the score ranges for each section and for the MCAT as a whole.

Nonetheless, the MCAT is currently composed of the following four sections:

  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems (BBLS) 
  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems (CPBS)
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS)
  • Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior (PSBB).

#1. Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems (BBLS)

This section is simply called “Bio/Biochem.” what this means is that as a pre-med student you are supposed good knowledge of biology and biochemistry.

Thus, this section of your MCAT exams will test your biological and biochemistry understanding.

it will also include some parts that will test your ability to apply analytical skills, statistical skills, reasoning, and scientific inquiry to find solutions.

#2. Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems (CPBS)

The section focuses on physical and chemical sciences while also testing your ability to solve problems.

Generally, the first two sections of the MCAT exams are referred to as the “Natural Sciences” section. However, they both get individual scores.

#3. Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS)

This particular section is known to the test-takers as the CARS section. it is different from all other sections.

Instead of testing your knowledge on specific areas of study, it will rather evaluate your CT (Critical Thinking) and reasoning skills.

it will have text passages about subjects like ethics, population health, philosophy, and more.

#4. Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior (PSBB).

well, this final part focuses on testing your comprehension of the named scientific principles, it focuses heavily on the importance of psychology and behavioral determinants of health in medicine.

Once you have completed your quiz, each section will be graded individually. As with all standardized tests, your score will depend on the number of correct answers.

The good news is that the wrong and unanswered questions get the same scores, so you can make educated guesses without worrying about penalties.

The MCAT score does not follow a traditional 100-point scale. Instead, the markers use your correct answers to convert your score to a scale between 118 and 132. You will also be given a percentile rank to see where you are in the range of other applicants’ scores.

NOTE

Each of the MCAT sections receives a score of 118 to 132. The MCAT will then add the four scores together to get your cumulative total.

Understand MCAT Score Ranges

I know you might be asking “Why is the MCAT scoring system so weird?”

Well, the truth is the scoring system may seem confusing at first, but it’s pretty easy to understand when you break the test down into four separate sections.

The MCAT is a massive test that takes several hours. Studying the contents of each unit can make the test easier to use and less intimidating.

Following a 15-point scale, each of the four sections is scored between 118 and 132 which are the lowest and highest possible score, respectively. 

When combined, it makes the total score range from 472 to 528. The exam is centered so that the mean and median lie at 500.

Understand MCAT Score Ranges
Understand MCAT Score Ranges

This strange grading system was born out of the need to level the playing field, as different sets of questions are offered every year and some may be more difficult than other versions.

For this reason, raw scores are converted to scaled scores through a process called equating, which compensates for slight variations in difficulty

Sometimes students wonder if their grades are affected by when they take the test or who is writing with them in the test center.

Nonetheless, For the 2021-2022 year, the midpoint score of 500 puts you in the 45th percentile. That means that you did better than 45 percent of all test-takers for that year. Ranks continually rise along with the cumulative number range, indicating a more competitive score.

How to Interpret Your MCAT Score Report

There are basically 4 sections you will see when you receive your MCAT Score Report namely;

  • Score
  • Percentile Rank
  • Confidence Band
  • Score Profile.
Sample MCAT Score Report
Sample MCAT Score Report

#1. The Score Column on the MCAT Score Report:

The “Score” column shows you your graded score for each section. The evaluation for MCAT is based on correctly answered questions.

Wrong answers have no additional penalty and are scored in the same way as unanswered questions. They don’t affect your score, so it’s a good idea to make an educated guess about questions that you’re not sure about!

#2. The Percentile Rank Column on the MCAT Score Report

On the other hand, the “percentile rank” shows how your score compares to your competitors and shows you their percentage that was higher or lower than you.

#3. The Confidence Band Column on the MCAT Score Report

The “confidence band” describes the range of accuracy of your section and your scores. It recognizes the inherent inaccuracies of standardized tests as the results can be influenced by various factors.

The AAMC states that it aims to “avoid differences between candidates with similar results”.

A confidence band of 122-124 means that your score was actually between 122-124 after taking into account the shortcomings of the scoring system.

This removes the doubt about the difference between applicants’ raw grades, whether they scored 122 or 124. This in turn smoothes the prerequisites for admission to medical studies and works in favor of the applicant.

#4. The Score Profile Column on the MCAT Score Report

Lastly, the ‘score profile’ shows you your strengths and weaknesses on the MCAT. It helps you understand which section you should focus or improve on, in case of a retake.

What is The Highest MCAT Score?

When it comes to the MCAT exam the highest anyone can score is 528. What this means is that you will have to score nothing less than 132 in all 4 sections of the exam.

This is actually possible to get a perfect score but it’s rare and difficult to achieve. Nonetheless, you really don’t need a perfect score to get a high percentile.

For the 2021-2022 year, a score of 522-523 would put you in the 99th percentile. Those who score between 524 and 528 are considered to be in the 100th percentile.

Now you know what the highest score in MCAT is, then, What Is A Good MCAT Score?

What Is A Good MCAT Score?

What Is A Good MCAT Score?
What Is A Good MCAT Score?

Hey! don’t be scared I know scoring 528 sounds impossible and you are already wallowing in thought What Is A Good MCAT Score is.

The truth is, you don’t have to get a perfect score but a target MCAT score varies depending on the student involved. Thus, your choice of med school plays a very important role in determining “your good MCAT score”

That being said, there is a range that is generally accepted. An MCAT score is considered good if you score anything 510 and above cumulatively with individual sections totaling 127 each.

None section is more important than the other. Even if you get a perfect score to make up the difference elsewhere, having a low score might hurt your chances of gaining admission.

It is important to study and prepare for every section equally in order to have a generally consistent score across all areas.

The MCAT exam is tough and with a total score of 510, you will be slightly comfortable and would place you around the 78th percentile or higher.

According to the aggregate acceptance rates reported by the Association of American Medical Colleges, approximately 61.4% of applicants with a score between 510 and 513 were accepted.

MCAT Score Percentiles

To accurately understand your score see this table of MCAT score percentiles. You will find out where you stand.

ScorePercentileScorePercentileScorePercentile
472<14911951078
473<14922151178
474<14932451281
475<14942751384
47614952951486
47714963251588
47814973551690
47924983851792
48034994251894
48145004551995
48245014852096
48365025252197
48475035552298
48585045852399
48695056252499
4871150665525100
4881350769526100
4891550872527100
4901750975528100
table of MCAT score percentiles

What Is The Average MCAT Score?

Now that you understand how the MCAT is scored and how to interpret the score reports, you may now be excited to start strategizing how to take on the exam. But before one could lay out the plans, we need to have a goal to aim for.

It’s no news that all institutions have their standards and requirements, each medical school has a limited number of potential students that can be accepted.

Understanding how you fit into the equation and comparing yourself to others can give you some insight into the MCAT score you are aiming for.

There is no guaranteed score to be accepted, but we can look at the acceptance data and aggregate the scores to see what the schools prefer.

Based on the MCAT scores and percentiles released for 2021-2022, we can say that the applicants average score is around 502. This is relatively close to the mean of 500. A score from 501 to 502 puts you in 48th place at the 52nd percentile.

However, this number refers to the average MCAT score of all applicants. Unfortunately, not all students taking the MCAT are accepted and enrolled in medical school. Not only that, many candidates take the MCAT multiple times!

Association of American Medical Colleges

In 2020, the Association of American Medical Colleges found that more than 88,000 applicants had taken the MCAT nearly 100,000 times. Oddly enough, these are higher numbers than last year.

During the 2020-2021 application cycle, there were approximately 53,030 applicants in medical schools. However, only 22,239 registered, which corresponds to an overall acceptance of only 42%.

With that in mind, what is the average MCAT score of people accepted into medical school?

According to the AAMC;

The average MCAT score for students accepted into allopathic, or MD-granting, medical schools was 511.5. The standard deviation is approximately 6.5.

Why A “Good” MCAT Score Varies By Student

Before that, we covered what most consider “good MCAT score”. The general consensus is that a score of 528 will increase your chances of entering medical school.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should aim for a 510. What constitutes a “good” score differs from student to student.

Why is that? It all depends on your goals and the schools you plan to attend. As mentioned earlier, some institutions are much more competitive than others.

All in all, it is difficult to start studying medicine. You have to be at the top of your class and work hard to be accepted everywhere. But some schools are so competitive that they can only bid on the brightest minds in the country!

In these cases a 528 is not enough!

Med Schools that Accepts High MCAT Score

Let’s take a look at some of the top schools’ average scores. Some of the best educational institutions in the country require scores well above the national MCAT score average for enrollment. The schools with the highest average MCAT scores include:

  • Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
  • Washington University School of Medicine
  • Yale School of Medicine at Yale University
  • New York University Grossman School of Medicine
  • The John Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
  • Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
  • The University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine
  • Harvard Medical School at Harvard University

If you are asking how high you need to score to be accepeted into any of these med schools, well, you are not alone.

On average, the applicant that have been accepted into these schools scored around 96th percentile or higher!

The most competitive of the group, Vanderbilt, Yale, Washington University, and NYU, accept students with an average MCAT score of 521. That’s in the 98th percentile!

Med Schools that Accepts Low MCAT Score

Contrary to popular belief, a lower average MCAT score for pre-med students doesn’t indicate the quality of education you’ll get or even a school’s prestige. It simply means that these schools might prioritize other factors when admitting potential students.

The schools with lowest average MCAT scores include:

  • University of Mississippi School of Medicine
  • Louisiana State University School of Medicine
  • Northeast Ohio Medical University
  • Central Michigan University College of Medicine
  • Florida State University College of Medicine
  • Southern Illinois University School of Medicine
  • Michigan State University College of Human Medicine
  • Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University
  • Cooper Medical School of Rowan University
  • Loma Linda University School of Medicine

To attend these schools, you must be in the 55th percentile of applicants or higher. The school with the lowest average MCAT score is the University of Mississippi. The students admitted there have an average score of around 503.

Again, lower averages don’t necessarily reflect the type of education you’re receiving. It doesn’t even indicate overall competitiveness.

For example, Florida State University is notoriously difficult to access. The school has one of the lowest acceptance rates in the country. Only 2.1% of applicants receive an admission offer that sits between the universities of New York, Stanford, and Georgetown.

Still, Florida State University’s enrolled students have an average MCAT score of only 506.

Those who want to attend one of these schools have even better chances with the MCAT national average of 510.

As you can see, there are many variables when it comes to your medical school applications and your MCAT scores. While we can say that 510 is a good number to aim for, it is not the same for everyone.

Fequently Asked question About What A Good MCAT Score is

How To Be In The Top 10% of MCAT Test Takers?

If you want to be in the top 10% of MCAT test-takers, you must have an MCAT total score range of 514-528.

This puts you in the 90th percentile range – the candidate with the highest scores. To get this score, you need to get a score from 129 to 132 for each section.

How To Be In The Top 25% of MCAT Test Takers

To have a very competitive position in admission, you must be in the top 25% of applicants for the MCAT test. This means you should get an overall MCAT range of 508-513, which requires 127-128 in all four sections.

In this valuation area, you are in the 75th percentile (and above). With that score paired with a great GPA and portfolio, you are well on your way to making that MD dream come true.

How To Be In The Top 50% of MCAT Test Takers

If you don’t want to get into highly competitive programs but still want to be in the top 50% of MCAT test takers, aim for an overall score of 500-507. These are less competitive results that require you to hit 125-126 on all four sections.

What Is A Low MCAT Score?

If you get a score of 499 and below, you are below average when compared to other applicants. While it might still get you into some medical schools, there are fewer schools to choose from.

Getting 124 and below in the sections might be a dealbreaker for committees that place emphasis on individual sections which may vary from school to school.

Overall, your MCAT scores are very important as this is the primary foundation used by the application committees to narrow down the pool of candidates.

Understanding how it works and knowing what score to aim for can help you set a clear goal for your MCAT journey.

The top MCAT scorers have researched ahead of time and determined what their medical school of choice will need and set a specific target score.

Conclusion

A good MCAT score depends on the student and their goals. However, it is helpful to know the rating ranges and percentiles in order to gauge your chances of acceptance (with respect to this test).

Ultimately, the goal should always be to get the highest score possible. There’s no way to guarantee that you’ll be accepted. However, high MCAT marks can do a lot to make your application competitive and compelling.

That beinng said, what other ways do you think a pre med student can get a good score in their MCAT exams? please use te comment section below.

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