How Can a Competitive MCAT Score Help You
Ever since the test came into effect, MCAT is a rather serious business for those aspiring Medical students across the US and Canada. Though there are other factors and variables like GPA, overall application quality, residing state, background, etc. which affect the process of Medical school selection, getting a competitive MCAT is highly vital to Medical school admission.
The MCAT exam has four sections, of which three are multiple-choice question sections on Physical Sciences, Biological and Sciences and Verbal Reasoning, and one is a Writing section. MCAT scoring takes into consideration all the four sections; the score is reported as a number representing the aggregate of the three multiple-choice question parts, appended by a letter representing the Writing part score, say something like 38R. MCAT being a curved test, this score is an actual evaluation of your performance in comparison to others who have also taken the same test (or a different administration of the same test). The scores are released within 30-35 days of the MCAT exam and are available in the centralized American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) and accessible to all the participating Medical schools.
Medical School Admission
Though MCAT score is important in the screening process to all the participating Medical schools, there is no uniform rule or policy as to the cutoff MCAT score required or what a competitive MCAT score is. Most medical schools would require your scores to be above average, that is, 24. However, being above average is not the only criteria. A bunch of other factors like the number of applicants to a particular school and their average MCAT scores and the school's policies could very well determine what could be considered a competitive MCAT score for the school.
- It is advised that you scan data across the previous few years, and understand what a competitive MCAT score is for each of the school you wish to apply to. The AAMC website (www.aamc.org) has data across recent years that highlight the average MCAT scores of all applicants and average MCAT scores of those accepted across recent years. You could also check Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) by AAMC (https://www.aamc.org/students/applying/requirements/msar/inside/). If you scan the data, you could very well understand that the concept of a competitive MCAT score is rather relative. For instance, according to the 2008-2009 edition of the Medical School Admission Requirements book, Harvard had an average accepted MCAT score of 11.7R while that of the Washington University School of Medicine had been 12.3Q.
- Another place that you must look for is the individual school's website. Most medical schools have Admission FAQs or similar section that could provide data on previous years' accepted MCAT average scores, applicant averages, the rules and policies, etc. You could also talk to the school directly, in case you need any clarification on the data/rules/policies.
Pointers to MCAT Scores
Here are five pointers to Medical school admission with respect to your MCAT score.
- An overall good score need not be a competitive MCAT score always. Some schools have special individual cutoff criteria like 10, 10, 10, Q. This way, even if you have an overall good MCAT score, you might not get an interview as you might not pass the criteria if you fail to perform in one part of the MCAT exam.
- Individual schools have different MCAT cutoff criteria, in addition to other important factors like overall application quality, GPA, state of residence, and so on. The risks are higher if your MCAT scores are not good enough or below average. Similarly, a competitive MCAT score is a sure way to increase your chances.
- Most Medical schools have different and higher MCAT cutoff criteria for Out Of Province applicants (OOP). If you happen to be an OOP, a competitive MCAT score can be greatly advantageous for you.
- Cutoff criteria might fluctuate each year for individual Medical schools, as the applicant pool is changing-in terms of its competitiveness and the number of applicants.
- You could as well not apply to a Medical school, if your scores are not found to be competitive for the same based on the previous years' data. This way, you need not waste your money and time.
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