The MCAT is the only consistent academic measure available to admissions committees. For this reason, the MCAT is more important than your GPA when it comes to Medical School admissions. However, there are several factors to consider before asking what MCAT score you need. Firstly, what is it that you are trying to use your MCAT score to do? This will narrow down the question enough that we can actually answer it! The way I see it, there’s at least four versions of this question:
- What MCAT score do I need to be competitive at ______ Medical School?
- What MCAT score do I need to be competitive at any MD school?
- What MCAT score do I need to be competitive at any DO school?
- What MCAT score do I need to be an MCAT Tutor?
Before I answer any of these questions, I should first explain how the MCAT is scored and used by admissions committees.
How Important is my MCAT Score for Admissions?
The MCAT has four sections: C/P (chemistry and physics), CARS (critical analysis and reasoning skills), B/B (biology and biochemistry), and P/S (psychology and sociology). Each section is scored on a scale of 118-132, where the 50th percentile score is a 125. When you add up the scores of each section, you get a total score between 472 and 528, where the 50th percentile is a 501, and the standard deviation is 10 points. Below is the percentiles for tests between May 1, 2020, and April 30, 2021, per the AAMC.
If you get a perfect 528, congratulations! However, the MCAT is just a part of the application materials that an admission committee will consider before offering you an interview. There are studies suggesting that MCAT section scores can have a moderate association with Step scores on your future USMLE board exams, but still, the MCAT doesn’t reflect a student’s other interests, well-roundedness, or personality. In our Medical School Application course, we have examples of admissions committee members describing how the MCAT factors into their process.
There are schools that have a minimum score (often around 500 for MD schools) to even be considered for an interview, and a great MCAT score can get your foot in the door for reading your application thoroughly and possibly getting an interview. At the end of the day, the MCAT is to get you an interview invite at a medical school, but not necessarily an admission. This 2020 AAMC data shows you that a great GPA and MCAT definitely improve your chances of being accepted, but don’t guarantee it.
What MCAT score do I need to be competitive at _____ Medical School?
If you have a specific school in mind, you should look up the stats related to that school to get the best answer possible. The AAMC has its own paid tool, the MSAR (Medical School Admission Requirements) database that has the best information; the LizzyM calculator is a useful free tool that can also help with the basics. Using this information, you can compare your GPA, other stats, and MCAT goal with their average applicants and enrolled students. This is great for if you have a dream school or are trying to figure out what range of schools you could be competitive at.
Rule of thumb: Aim for at least their median MCAT score to make sure you’re considered!
What MCAT score do I need to be competitive at any MD school?
If you don’t care as much about which MD (allopathic) medical school you attend, just that you get into one, then more options are available to you. It’s still difficult to get into any medical school, but if you’re willing to apply to 20 or more schools, you could have an MCAT around the 70th-80th percentile (507-510) with an otherwise-solid application and still get some interview invites. Just make sure you use those tools above to select enough safety schools and not too many reach schools.
Rule of thumb: Aim for at least a 507-510 to make sure some of the MD schools consider you!
What MCAT score do I need to be competitive at any DO school?
Osteopathic (DO) medical schools share the same residencies as MD schools after graduation, so if you just want to be a physician, a DO school can be another choice to consider. Generally, these schools have lower requirements for the MCAT and GPAs than MD schools, but I would still recommend looking the specific statistics for the schools you are most interested in. There can be much more variability here than in MD schools.
Rule of thumb: Aim for at least a 505 to be competitive, but this is much more school-dependent.
What MCAT score do I need to be an MCAT Tutor?
This one is the easiest to answer. For MCAT Self Prep, you need to score in the 97th percentile or above (519+) to Tutor for us. You also would need to have prior tutoring experience and pass a tutoring practical and training session with me, Tim, so any tutors working for us are highly trained and vetted. For other large test companies, they may hire tutors who scored as low as the 90th percentile (515+), which is actually below the median MCAT score for some of the top MD schools!
Rule of thumb: Score at least in the 97th percentile for MCAT Self Prep to consider hiring you as a tutor!
How can I make a study plan that will result in reaching my goal?
After you make your MCAT goal, the next thing you will want to do is make your MCAT study plan. Our Free eCourse will walk you through how to make your MCAT study plan in a step-by-step, logical manner. And our amazing tutors will help you personalize your plan and will help you stay on track toward reaching your goal. If you have more questions, I’m more than happy to have a 10 minute free consultation with you to discuss your unique situation, see how our Medical School Application course or Tutoring could be right for you, and get you the personalized help you need. Good luck studying!
Timothy is a medical student who has helped over 100 students succeed on the MCAT. Not only did he score in the 99th percentile, he also has extensive understanding of MCAT questioning and has written hundreds of practice questions!
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