As one of the four most sought after STEM career paths, thousands of young people dream of becoming a full-fledged doctor or surgeon one day. But due to its high-pressure nature and standard of achievement, it’s also one of the most challenging career paths to follow through. Just being average won’t cut it; you have to have top tier results even to be taken seriously.
This all means you need to get an excellent score on your Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) if you want to at a prestigious medical school. With proper preparation, you can head into the MCAT confidently and hopefully obtain the scores you need to get into your dream program.
More on the MCAT
The purpose of the MCAT is pretty self-explanatory: qualifying candidates for medical school. The MCAT test system is not an international exam; it’s administered only in the U.S., Australia and the Caribbean Islands. This test evaluates your aptitude in the following areas: problem-solving, critical thinking, written analysis and knowledge of scientific concepts and principles. Thus, the test time is quite lengthy, averaging 7.5 hours for most candidates.
The standard test question pattern is fifty-nine questions per section with a time allotment ranging from 90 to 90 minutes. In the first section, Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems, the candidate’s scientific knowledge is tested, specifically physics and chemistry. The Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS) section tests an applicant’s decision-making skills by providing a case study passage and requiring test takes to assess solutions. The third section, Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems, entirely focuses on biology and human anatomy. The last section, Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior, requires the applicant to demonstrate an understanding of human behavior.
What’s a Good Score on the MCAT?
With the basics out of the way, let’s talk about what constitutes a “good” score in MCAT exams. MCAT scores are categorized under percentiles: the top-90 percentile, top-75 percentile, top-50 percentile and so on. The exam uses a ranged scoring system, which means the individual scores of all four sections are combined to form an aggregate score. The aggregate score then creates the percentile ranges.
What is generally considered as a good score by admission boards depends on the competitiveness of a given program. The most selective schools tend to look at the top 10 percent of applicants and other competitive schools look at the top 25 percent. If you score better than at least 70 percent of other applicants, you may still very well get you into a medical school of your choice.
The scores defined by these ranges are usually as follows:
- A score between 524-528 lands you in the top 100 percentile
- A score between 514-523 lands you in the top 90 percentile
- A score between 510-514 lands you in the top 80 percentile
- A score between 508 lands you in the top 70 percentile
- A score between 504-506 lands you in the top 60 percentile
- A score between 501-508 lands you in the top 50 percentile
If you want to be accepted into medical school, the minimum result requirement requires you to score above the fiftieth percentile or higher
How to Get a Good Score on the MCAT
Now that you know how the scoring system works, it’s time for some tips on how to get a good MCAT score. Preparation is the key to getting a high score on there MCAT; don’t work harder, work smarter. Instead of cramming yourself with the syllabus day and night, follow these tips and tricks to get the best out of your preparation time:
- Approach the exam with the right attitude and set down a three to six-month preparation time.
- Purchase an MCAT prep bundle to help you focus on the essential parts of the syllabus. This will significantly reduce your study load.
- Do not exhaust yourself and take enough breaks.
- Studying for MCAT exams is not easy, so if you feel overwhelmed, opt for group studies or hire a good tutor.
- Take advantage of free MCAT resources online.
Please note that upcoming MCAT exams have been postponed for the time being due to the current Covid-19 crisis worldwide. You need to reschedule your exam by contacting the closest MCAT test center in your locality.
It’s Not Easy, But It’s Worth It
There is no sugar-coating the fact that MCAT is one of the most difficult challenges for pre-med students. But if you are consistent with your preparations, you should have an easier time than the average applicant. And, of course, it will all be worth it once you’re admitted to the med school of your choice. Remember, you’ve been working toward this goal for years and years. This is the last hurdle, so make sure you clear it.