What Competitive Scores Do Med Schools Look For
Along with your grades at the undergraduate level, an MCAT competitive score is what determines your entry into participating Medical schools in Canada and US. So, what is an MCAT competitive score? Is it a common number across the various Medical schools? Are there any other factors that are important while applying to Medical schools?
Medical School Admission Rules and Policies
Most Medical schools in the United States and Canada (136 in US and 17 in Canada) use the centralized American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) by AAMC as the primary application method for admission processing for the entering class. Prospective students need not apply individually to specific participating schools, but can submit one application to this centralized service. However, the admission decisions or policies of individual schools and institutes are not decided or controlled by AMCAS in anyway, and each school has its own rules and policies.
- All participating Medical schools require an MCAT score to consider a candidate. However, there is no common minimum MCAT score or cutoff criteria defined across the various universities and schools. An MCAT competitive score becomes a rather relative concept depending on the school you apply to. According to the Medical School Admission Requirements book by AAMC (2008-2009 ed.), for example, the Washington University School of Medicine had an accepted MCAT score of 12.3Q while that of the Harvard Medical School was 11.7R only.
- While the topmost schools in the country accommodate only the top percentiles, almost all the medical schools require an above-average MCAT score; according to the statistics, anything below 24 is not considered good enough for admission to any of the Medical schools.
- Scoring above 24 also does not guarantee you a Medical school seat. An MCAT competitive score is what required, and this differs for each school and might change over time. The number of candidates applied to a particular Medical school in a year and their average MCAT scores define what the MCAT competitive score is for the school for the year.
- The reputation and prestige of the specific school are also factors that could raise or lower the cutoff criteria.
MCAT Competitive Scores
It is thus advised that, in order to understand what an MCAT competitive score is, you need to scan the MCAT score statistics over recent years and across schools. The AAMC website (https://www.aamc.org/) has relevant data across years on the accepted average. You could also buy the Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) by AAMC for data specific to individual Medical schools. You are also advised to check the individual school website/ contact the school directly for details on average accepted MCAT scores and other relevant policies. Please note the points below to better understand an MCAT competitive score:
- Understanding the average accepted MCAT score of the individual school is important; this could help you get a realistic picture as to where you stand. Accordingly, you could choose to not apply to a particular school where your chances are less or choose more schools to eliminate the risks and/or to increase the chances.
- Many schools do have special individual cutoff criteria in place: that is, you need to have something like 10, 11, 10, and M for each of the sections of the MCAT exam, in addition to having an overall MCAT competitive score. Hence, scoring well in each of the different sections of the exam might be equally important, depending on the schools you apply to.
- Some schools have different higher cutoff criteria for Out Of Province (OOP) candidates. Scoring an MCAT competitive can be extremely beneficial for those OOP applicants.
- Though there are different other variables like state of residence, overall quality of the application, race, gender, and background that are considered by almost all Medical schools, an MCAT competitive score could give you a lift. AAMC reports (2008-2010) show that 8% of applicants with an MCAT score of 39-45 were accepted into at least one Medical school, even though their GPA was in the range 2.6-2.79. In the same year range, 17% of the applicants with MCAT scores in the range 36-38 and 21% with MCAT scores 33-35 (GPA in the range 2-6-2.79 only) were accepted into at least one Medical school. MCAT matters!
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