What’s A Good Score On the New MCAT?

A+ grade on paper

Every pre-med student agonizes over preparing for the MCAT. It’s such an important component of medical school applications that it would be unusual not to be stressed about it. The release of the new version of the MCAT (MCAT2015) last year makes things even trickier. There’s no clear cutoff between a “good” MCAT score and a bad one anymore. In years past you could at least find the admissions profiles for medical schools and get some sort of a baseline.

Since there is so little data or information right now about scores with the MCAT2015, it can be even harder to figure out where you stand after you get your results back. However, there are still a couple of concepts to think about that could help you determine how your score stacks up.

The new MCAT features several differences from earlier tests. It’s around 2.5 hours longer than its predecessor, and includes sections on psychology and sociology, all while nixing the writing component. All of the changes stem from a desire to keep up with “rapidly changing knowledge bases, like medicine,” according to Karen Mitchell, AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) admissions testing service senior director.

Most notably, the new exam now has a high point score of 528, a far cry from the previous 45-point scale. Each section now can result in a score between 118-132. Additional information about the scoring system can be found here, but it’s not really possible to convert scores from the old MCAT to the MCAT2015.

Fortunately, the AAMC has released information that pertains to scaled scores and percentiles, which reveals that a MCAT Total Score of 514-528 would roughly place you “in the top 10% of all test takers.” Anywhere from 508-513 would place you generally in the top 25%, while 500+ means you’d roughly be in the top half of all test takers. A more detailed summary of MCAT scores, with more in-depth percentile rankings, can be found here.

It’s probably safe to say that you’d want to be in the 50th percentile or higher (around a 32-35 on the old MCAT) to be competitive for many medical schools. Obviously, the tougher the school, the better your scores should be.

You should also remember that the MCAT score is just one element of the larger application portfolio, and therefore each MCAT subsection score should be balanced. An extremely high score in one section, coupled with a low one in another might make some admissions personnel very wary about accepting your application. Keep in mind that a great GPA, strong examples of your leadership skills, and a portfolio of published papers could make up for a less than desirable MCAT score for your target schools.

There are a lot of options when it comes to medical school (some are even overseas in other countries), so it’s vital that you research thoroughly and ensure that you have the information you need to make a decision.

There is no ‘magic number’ MCAT score that guarantees anything. Medical school is a big commitment and will play a substantial role in your career trajectory. Even with the new scoring standards and test structure, you need to be sure to study hard and push yourself to get the most competitive score when it comes time to take the MCAT.