“How many times can you take the MCAT?” is a question that goes through the mind of many premeds as they brace themselves for the notorious exam. For those who feel the need to retake the MCAT, this anxiety can be much more invasive. In this blog, learn what additional retakes mean for your application to medical school. We also cover how to go about retaking this dreaded test, what other options for you may exist, and the benefits of seeking medical school application help in your quest to ace the MCAT.


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Article Contents
5 min read

How Many Times Can I Take the MCAT? When Should You Retake the MCAT? Why Retake The MCAT? Before You Retake the MCAT FAQS

How Many Times Can I Take the MCAT?

Despite the complicated nature of the decision, the question of how many times you can take the MCAT has a pretty simple and direct answer: you can take the test up to three times in a given testing year, four times in a two-year period, and seven times total in your lifetime.

When Should You Retake the MCAT?

You can retake the MCAT if you're dissatisfied with your score, especially if you're taking a gap year before medical school. This can be helpful if you need to improve scores in specific sections like Physics or CARS to meet your preferred schools' requirements.

Ideally, you want to take it only once with the best possible score to secure your spot in medical school. There are situations where a retake makes sense, but it's usually a grueling experience that most students would rather avoid.

One of our former students sought expert help before his second (and more successful) attempt at the MCAT:

“I was aiming for over 510 [on the MCAT] but initially scored 497. After a month off, I prepped for six more months, improving to 510 nearly a year later. I found managing filler words and maintaining a professional demeanor challenging but improved with practice and feedback, valuing the mock interviews for their realism and helpful critique.” – Kannan, Former BeMo Student

Increase Your MCAT Score Significantly Using 9 Simple Strategies We Teach Our Students:

Why Retake The MCAT?

Due to the competitive nature of medical school admissions, many schools require a very high MCAT score to even consider your application.

Many medical schools will use strict cut-offs to start removing those deemed unsuitable for their program. Low scores will almost always overshadow other aspects of your application that may be a better representation of your qualifications, such as your medical school recommendation letters or clinical research experience. If your score is bad enough, there is the unfortunate chance you will not be accepted anywhere.

For these reasons, many students may feel the need to retake the MCAT to make a better first impression in their medical school applications.

Before You Retake the MCAT

A good mantra for the MCAT is this: just because you can retake it doesn't mean you should. If you're considering a retake, assess whether your current score is high enough for your chosen schools, identify areas for improvement, and adjust your study strategy to ensure you're aiming for a significant score increase.

For example, students with science backgrounds may be good test-takers but might struggle with MCAT timing and adjusting to the particular format of the test. In this case, they would need to work on their time management specifically.

One of our consultants spoke openly about her MCAT experience:

“I focused on high-yield strategies. I knew that because I didn’t come from a science background, that science subjects would require my greater focus. I worked with an in-person prep company in my hometown.” – Dr. Monica Taneja, MD, University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Wondering if you should retake your MCAT? Watch this video:

With the right MCAT prep strategies, needing to take the MCAT several times is very unlikely. Nevertheless, here are some things to consider when taking the MCAT more than once:

Limitations to Retaking the MCAT

Medical schools view all your scores and have discretion in how they weigh them. While some schools prioritize your highest score, others consider all attempts or calculate an average, potentially lowering your chances if your retake MCAT scores are worse.

Certain schools may require a minimum score in each section, and some may emphasize specific sections. Given this, researching schools' acceptance rates and score evaluation methods is crucial to ensure you make the best-informed decisions when applying to medical school.

Take the Time to Prepare

Knowing when to start studying for the MCAT is paramount to achieving this goal.

You might need to revise your study strategy if you plan to retake the MCAT, especially if your first approach didn't yield the desired results. If you're still a student, allocate 6-7 months to study, while those on a gap year might need around 3 months. Regardless of your timeline, be aware of MCAT test dates and aim to start early, ideally during a break to maximize study time.

When creating your step-by-step process for how to study for the MCAT, it will be very beneficial for you to get started with a full-length practice exam. Even if you have taken the official exam previously, an MCAT diagnostic test will let you know where you are currently and what exactly you need to work on to ensure a better score this time around. Take it from one of our experts:

“I learned my weaknesses a bit late in the process. But, I read passages every day to prepare and focused on learning to deduct studies while reading (for example, how to results matched the hypothesis). Do not overestimate how much you will have [to prepare], this is a marathon. If anything, underestimate how much time you will need so you have cushion time to rest and live a little [during your studying and preparatory phase].”- Dr. Sona Nuguri, MD

Benefit from Academic Consulting 

When retaking the MCAT, seeking professional help may be useful for you to improve your score. A trained MCAT tutor can help with your skills in record time to make you feel 100% confident on exam day. Extra guidance could be the key that makes the difference, especially if you did not have that the first time.

“Dr. Narusis's extensive repertoire of supplementary resources has proved instrumental in the holistic orchestration of my MCAT preparations. He ventures beyond the confines of traditional textbooks, providing a diverse array of materials intended to augment my comprehension across various sections. His willingness to share these additional sources vividly demonstrates his dedication to delivering a well-rounded and all-encompassing learning experience.” – Nikita Borisenko, Former BeMo Student

Academic consulting firms such as BeMo Academic Consulting offer MCAT preparation services with unlimited private tutoring dedicated to your success. In addition to helping you plan your schedule, academic consultants can also guide you through the entire medical school application process, aid with supporting documents, and more.

When having to retake the MCAT, you may feel at the end of your rope, but companies dedicated to student success like BeMo could alleviate that stress. The journey to medical school is not a road to take alone and having an extra set of eyes on your application is sure to produce positive results.

FAQS

1. What is a good MCAT score?

 A good MCAT score varies depending on the medical school. Some have strict cut-off scores, while others consider other factors.

2. Should I retake the MCAT?

Retaking the MCAT is demanding. Only retake if your score was low but salvageable.

3. Why does it lower my chances of acceptance to take the MCAT multiple times?

 Multiple attempts may suggest a lack of preparation or inability to improve, potentially lowering your application's appeal.

4. Should I study with a specific score in mind?

Avoid fixating on a specific score unless necessary for a specific school. Focus on achieving your best possible result.

5. What is a median matriculant MCAT score?

The median score represents the midpoint of accepted applicants' scores, indicating the preferred level of performance by the school.

6. When do I know I’m ready to take the MCAT again?

 Retake when you feel fully prepared, ideally scoring consistently in the 90th percentile or higher.

7. Do osteopathic medical (DO) schools also have MCAT requirements and thresholds?

 Yes, but typically with lower thresholds than allopathic schools. Researching DO school requirements can provide insights.

8. What can academic consulting services help with?

Academic consultants assist with various aspects of the medical school application process, offering guidance on MCAT preparation, standardized tests, and application documents.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting


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