Your MCAT scores are important in the medical school admissions process. This page aims to provide you with information about MCAT scoring and how your GPA and MCAT scores affect your chances of getting accepted to medical school. Note that individual circumstances vary and so students intending to apply to medical school should consult with their premed advisor and explore the website of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).
What is the MCAT out of?
The MCAT is scored out of a maximum of 132 on a scale with a minimum score of 118 for each of the four sections - Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems; Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills; Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems; and Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior (side note: the 'old' MCAT scoring scale was from 1 to 15 and the new scale also has 15 integers but numbered from 118 to 132).
Thus the exam is not scored on a curve, rather you will receive an MCAT scaled score with a range from a low of 118 to a high of 132, with a midpoint of 125 for each section. These 4 new MCAT scaled scores are combined to create a total score that will range from from a lowest possible score of 472 to a highest possible score of 528, with a midpoint of 500. Achieving the highest possible scaled MCAT score (528) is rare but achievable. Medical school admission committees only use scaled scores to evaluate the MCAT component of the admissions process (not percentage, not percentile).
MCAT Score Conversion
There is no simplistic way to convert a percentage to a scaled score. It is a complex calculation that is dependent on the cohort and cannot be replicated with precision for any random practice exam. For example, a 50% raw score (i.e. the percent of correct answers) in a section does NOT represent 125 (a midpoint MCAT scaled score). Consider the table below.
Example of approximate percent correct MCAT score conversion for the Official AAMC MCAT Practice Exam (Scored) 1
||Percent Correct (approx.)
||MCAT Scaled Score with Range (/132)
|1. Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
|2. Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills ('MCAT CARS')
|3. Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
|4. Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
Note: A score of 80% correct for each of the 4 exam subsections translates to an MCAT scaled score of 127, which further underlines the fact that the relationship between percent correct and scaled scores is not straightforward and the changes are not consistent across exam sections (there is a correlation, but they are not proportional). Again, the numbers above only apply to this one exam and cannot be blindly applied to other practice materials. As an example, Gold Standard MCAT practice exams required thousands of student submissions to develop an exam-specific scale score which continues to be adjusted as segments of the cohort’s exam preparation improves over the years.
The AAMC provides students with a score report that reflects: (1) percentile ranks to show how one fared compared to other exam takers (for example, the 80th percentile indicates that your MCAT score is better than 80% of other exam takers); (2) confidence bands that show the ranges where one's true scores lie; and (3) score profiles that reflect one's strengths and weaknesses in the four sections. For an example of the new score report, click here: MCAT Score Report
What is a Good MCAT Score?
||Average score acceptable to few medical schools
||Average score acceptable for most medical schools
||Average score acceptable for Ivy League medical schools
||average MCAT score
||good MCAT score
||high MCAT score
|Sectional score: new
MCAT (max. = 132)
|Combined score: new
MCAT (max. = 528)
|Sectional score: ‘old’
MCAT (max. = 15)
|Combined score: ‘old’
MCAT (max. = 45)
Note: the expression “average score” does not have the same meaning as cutoff or minimum score. Rather it refers to the simple average of students accepted to medical school (historic and predicted averages). Having an acceptable MCAT score in no way guarantees medical school admissions since acceptance is also contingent on GPA and non-academic factors (i.e. personal statement and/or autobiographical material, letters of reference, and the medical school interview).
* percentile does not refer to the percent, which relates to the ratio of correct answers to the total number of questions. The percentile rank records the percentage of students whose scores were lower than yours. Percentile ranks are not used as medical school admissions criteria. Only the scaled score matters for medical school admissions (i.e. out of 45 for the ‘old’ MCAT and out of 528 for the new MCAT).
** This assumes that current percentile rank predictions for the new MCAT are accurate (see link below) and that medical schools will choose to use MCAT scores in a similar manner to what they have been doing over the last ‘generation’ of MCAT exams/scores. This may or may not be the case. Because of the new scoring scale and data showing high rates of successful medical school matriculation and USMLE success even with average MCAT scores, some programs may choose to be more open to the middle of the scale while emphasizing other aspects of the admissions process. It is not possible to predict which medical schools would agree to give equal weight to the one section of the new MCAT which has no old MCAT equivalent: Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior. But, early data from the AAMC has shown that scores from the Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior section are valuable in the medical student selection process because they predict one's performance in courses that have behavioral and social sciences content. To view the validity studies of this new MCAT section as well as the comparison of grades and scores between the old and the new MCAT exam, click here: MCAT Psychology and Sociology validity research. For percentile rank predictions and other details, here is the link to the 28-page guide to new MCAT scores from the AAMC: new MCAT Scores Guide. Based on the MCAT percentile ranks in effect from May 1, 2016 to April 30, 2017, according to the AAMC, for more information: click here: MCAT Score Percentiles.
Medical School Admissions Calculator Based on GPA and MCAT Score*
What are my chances of getting accepted into medical school?
Note: Individual circumstances may vary. Past patterns do not guarantee future admissions patterns. This webpage does not collect nor try to collect any personally identifiable data.
* To properly interpret the results of the medical school admissions calculator, keep in mind the following: (1) these are average statistics based on US rates of medical school admissions in the last 5 years as published online by the AAMC; (2) the above does not reveal the variations between specific universities or colleges: keep in mind that individual medical schools may be significantly more or less competitive than others; (3) as previously explained, it is unclear if medical schools will use new MCAT scores in the same way in the future as they have done in the past. The calculation above is based on the assumption that cumulative MCAT scores will continue to be used in a similar manner as recent history which may or may not be the case; (4) The overall statistical chance of admissions to medical school, though correlates best with numerical achievement in recent history, also varies based on personal experience. Such experience is transmitted through various tools of the admissions process. This non-academic part of medical school admissions can be revealed through your Personal Statement, letters of reference and the medical school interview. Consult your premed advisor and the admissions information for the specific medical schools which interest you to determine the weight given to the different aspects of the admissions process, as well as the cutoff and/or average GPA/MCAT scores for each medical school to which you intend to apply.
MCAT Scores as a Function of Question Types (Approx. %)
The following graphic provides an approximation as to how your 4 MCAT scores - as well as your overall MCAT score - breaks down to the broad range of question types.
Of special note:
- the importance of Biology and Biochemistry;
- the importance of Psychology and Sociology (although, only time will tell to what degree medical schools will accept this new section with equal weight to the other three more established MCAT sections);
- the continued importance of 'Verbal Reasoning' (CARS);
- and finally, note that the 'non-science' aspect to your new MCAT score is not exactly 50% because one of the non-science MCAT sections also contains Biology (5%).
How many times can I take the MCAT?
The AAMC plans to keep the current MCAT exam for at least 15 years. There will be new limits on how often students may take the new MCAT exam.
||Number of Times Permitted to Take New MCAT
|Single testing year
||Up to 3 times
|Two consecutive-year period
||Up to 4 times
||Up to 7 times
To determine if you should retake the MCAT, know the average MCAT score required by the medical school of your choice as well as their acceptance rates. If your score is competitive, the focus might not be on the need to retake the MCAT. You may need to evaluate your medical school interview, or autobiographical materials, or possibly your GPA. If your GPA is low, you may benefit from additional undergraduate or graduate studies (consult your premed advisor for additional insight), or you may benefit from a higher MCAT score. If you feel that retaking the MCAT is the way to go, we have assembled MCAT prep courses and MCAT practice tests that would help you prepare better. You may also benefit from the Gold Standard MCAT Guide, a compilation of free study resources shown below.
Note: A voided exam and a ‘no show’ are counted as attempts in taking the exam. There is no required waiting period before you can retake the MCAT. But you may be able to register for a new MCAT date 48 hours after your exam day.
How Medical Schools Handle Multiple MCAT Scores
If you have taken the MCAT multiple times, the medical school to which you would apply may do any one of the following with your multiple MCAT scores:
- Evaluate the most recent score
- Evaluate only the highest individual and/or set of scores
- Evaluate an average of the sets of scores
- Consider all scores equally and note the improvements
Contact the medical schools to which you intend to apply to determine how they would handle your multiple MCAT scores. Also, please note that many medical schools do not accept MCAT exam scores that are more than three years old. To determine how medical schools in the US and Canada will evaluate old and new MCAT scores, click here: MCAT Scoring Policy.
In addition to your MCAT score, medical school admissions committees consider other factors in your application including your GPA, personal and academic experiences, demographics, medical school interview, letters of evaluation or recommendation, and personal statement. Review Table 1 of the AAMC's "Using MCAT Data in 2017 Medical Student Selection" to learn how medical school admissions committees weigh the importance of these factors.
MCAT Scores Release
The official MCAT score release is scheduled 30-35 days after your exam date. To know when MCAT 2017 scores will be released, click here: MCAT Test Dates. MCAT scores are released by 5 p.m. EST on release days. To access your MCAT score, click here: MCAT Score Reporting System.
Gold Standard MCAT Guide