Many of students who have just received their April MCAT scores are contemplating whether or not they should retake the exam this August and/or hold off on their applications to medical school. Unfortunately, the answer is not cut and dried and not just a matter of what a student has scored. It is individual for everyone and although an applicant is the only one who can decide whether to retake the exam, here are a few things to for students consider while making this decision. Read through the following questions and think about each one. Students may wish to sleep on their decision and then make the choice that they feel is best for them.
Can I do better?
Some students feel like they were as prepared as they could have been the first time that they took the test, and even with more studying they are NOT confident that they could do better. Remember – there is also the risk of going down in one or more of the test’s categories. Many schools look at the most recent set of MCATs, which needs to be a consideration. Applicants may wish to ask themselves the following questions:
How did I prepare for the April exam? Did I take a prep course?
Did I feel that I did not have enough time to devote to MCAT study because of work in my academic classes?
How did I feel the actual test went for myself – Was I sick? Was I overly anxious? Did I have enough time? Were there other distractions on test day?
What are my summer commitments? Do I have the time this summer to truly dedicate myself to MCAT study?
What is the relative risk of going down on any section?
Do I feel that my score accurately reflects your ability?
Looking at my past history, how have I tended to perform on standardized tests?
Am I mentally prepared to take on the task of retesting? Do I have the motivation and energy required?
How was my score?
This is a tough question to answer. The national average MCAT score of applicants admitted to the 2000 entering class was a 29.7, however each school has its own range.
What schools do I want to apply to? What are their average MCAT scores and gpas?
What was my breakdown? Are there individual scores that may be viewed as a weakness?
Most schools have acceptable averages for each section. It is usually not okay to have a total of 30 if one of the section scores is below a certain level, usually an 8.
Are there any other considerations that can be taken into consideration when interpreting MCAT scores? Students should consider whether or not they’re learning disabled, or whether English is their second language? Lastly, applicants should consider whether or not they are underrepresented students?
How competitive are the other aspects of my application?
It’s important for students to view themselves realistically. The average overall GPA for those accepted to medical school in 2000 is a 3.6 and the BCPM (science and math) is a 3.55.
What is my overall BCPM GPAs?
Are my grades at the average, above the average or below the average?
If a student's grades are below the average, a strong MCAT score will be very important. If a student's grades are above the average, then perhaps it is possible to get away with a SLIGHTLY lower score. Although, typically, the higher the better! Also be sure to look individually at one's courses and one's subsections of the MCAT. For example, it will not be favorable if a student had trouble in the Physical sciences both in their coursework and on the MCAT.
Would a student be a more competitive applicant if they waited another year, took additional coursework retook the MCAT and added additional experiences to their resume?