Wondering what is a good MCAT score? Is my MCAT score good? What MCAT score do I need to get into medical school? Today, I’ll answer these and many other questions that will help you understand what MCAT score you need to succeed. Don’t miss out—explore my detailed guide below!


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Article Contents
11 min read

What is a Good MCAT Score? How is the MCAT Scored? MCAT Score Ranges MCAT Percentiles MCAT Score Calculator What is the Highest Possible MCAT score Is 515 a Good MCAT Score? How I Scored Above 515 on the MCAT What MCAT Score Do I Need for Harvard and Other Ivy League Medical Schools? What is a good MCAT score in Canada? Is 500 a Bad MCAT Score? How Long Are MCAT Scores Valid? How Do Medical Schools Use MCAT Scores?

What is a Good MCAT Score?

There are 2 answers to this question. Answer #1: in most recent medical school application cycles, a score of 510-511 and above would be considered a good MCAT score. A good MCAT score would not have any section scores below 127. Anything above 520 is exceptional.

The second answer is that a good MCAT score is a score equal to or higher than the average accepted MCAT score of your chosen schools. Note that I said “average accepted MCAT score” not the minimal scores most schools publish as their medical school requirements – those are not the scores you want to aim for. So it will be up to you to do your research and find out the latest cohort’s average MCAT score. You can do that via MSAR, by the way. I used that tool a lot when I was researching which medical schools would consider my MCAT score a good score.

Wondering what is a good MCAT score? Watch this video:

How is the MCAT Scored?

MCAT scoring system is very confusing! But fear not – here’s a quick rundown of how the MCAT is scored:

Your score is based on the number of questions you answer correctly. Wrong answers do not affect your score, so you are not penalized for wrong answers. Make sure to answer all questions when you take the test even if you are unsure if you’re correct!

Your correct answers in each section are converted to a scaled score ranging from 118 (lowest possible score) to 132 (highest possible score). The scores for all four sections are added together. This means that the lowest possible MCAT score you can get is 472 and the highest is 528.

Now here’s the trick: the conversion is administered to ensure scoring fairness to all students taking the MCAT. There are several different test forms in a given year. They tend to include questions of various difficulty levels. All tests are designed to examine the same knowledge and skills and the administration tries to make sure that all test forms are equal in difficulty. However, some test forms may be slightly more difficult than others. The conversion of your correct answers to scale is done through a process called equating, which compensates for small variations in difficulty between test forms. So two equally prepared students answering two sets of test forms with different questions are expected to get similar scores, even if there is some discrepancy between the number of correct answers.

Important! This does not mean that the MCAT score is graded on a curve. Conversion simply ensures that different raw scores have the same meaning, no matter when you test is or who else is taking the test with you.

On the MCAT score release date, you get 5 MCAT scores: one scaled score for each of the MCAT sections and 1 overall MCAT score.

MCAT Score Ranges

515-528 MCAT score range is the most competitive score range out there. If you fall in this score range, you are likely to get to the interview stage. Plus, your MCAT score will be a great help if you are being compared with other applicants during final decisions.

511-514 MCAT score range is competitive. While it’s not outstanding, your MCAT score is very solid if it falls in this score range.

502-511 MCAT score range is average. While it’s nothing to boast about, if your MCAT score falls in this range, at least it will not be a red flag to most medical school admissions committees (though the top schools in the country will probably not see this as a boon for you). This kind of score shows that you have enough of a foundation to do well in medical school.

501 and below is not a good MCAT score. While some medical schools may accept you if you have other outstanding application components, but this MCAT score is going to hinder your chances of getting accepted.

MCAT Percentiles

Here’s a quick look at MCAT percentiles. Important: the percentiles do not represent the percentage of the correct answers you gave – they show you how well you did compared to other test takes. So for example, my MCAT score was 518 which means that I scored higher than 95% of MCAT test takers. Check out the table below to find your MCAT percentile.

MCAT Score Calculator

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Use this MCAT Score Calculator to see your scaled score!

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What is the Highest Possible MCAT score

As I already briefly mentioned, the highest possible MCAT score is 528. Is it actually possible to get this score? Believe it or not, but it does happen every year! According to the AAMC, each year between 0.015% and 0.035% of students who take the MCAT score the perfect 528. I’ll talk about the strategies you can use to achieve this shortly. 

Is 515 a Good MCAT Score?

515 is a very good MCAT score because it puts you in the 90th percentile, which is a highly competitive position for most medical schools. In fact, it is such a good score that it can compensate for a less than average GPA. For example, according to the AAMC, if you have a score of 515 and a GPA of 3.0, you theoretically still have a 42.5% chance of getting accepted! Compare this to having a GPA of 3.0 and a slightly lower MCAT score of 512 – your chances go down to 34%. And if you have a good GPA of 3.6 or so, your chances of getting into medical school go up above 65% with an MCAT of 515. So yes, a score of 515 is certainly something that can help you boost your medical school acceptance chances and is definitely a good MCAT score!

How I Scored Above 515 on the MCAT

Here’s what I did to score above 515 on the MCAT.

1. I Developed a Detailed Study Plan

I started by taking a MCAT diagnostic exam under realistic testing conditions to determine my baseline score. Based on this score, I then created a structured study plan that allocated approximately 300 to 350 hours to comprehensively cover all MCAT content areas, as well as included practice questions and full-length tests. Additionally, I prioritized high-yield topics that frequently appear on the exam to optimize my study efforts and focus on the most important content.

2. Practice, Practice, Practice

Consistent practice is key to success on the MCAT. I would suggest starting with content review from day one and slowly incorporate practice questions as you progress. Dedicate a significant amount of time to working through practice questions, taking full-length practice tests, and thoroughly reviewing the answers to understand mistakes and identify areas for improvement.

3. I Developed Strong Test-Taking Strategies

Besides content knowledge, the MCAT requires effective test-taking strategies. Essentially, even if you have the knowledge but cannot apply it to the MCAT test format, you will not do well. I concentrated on honing my skills such as time management, critical thinking, and problem-solving to maximize my performance on exam day. Given that the MCAT assesses critical analysis and reasoning, I would practice reading complex passages and answering inference-based questions. This involved reading high-level publications and using active reading strategies to help improve my reading comprehension and analytical abilities.

4. If I Could Go Back, I Would Take More Relevant Classes Before Studying for the MCAT

Looking back, I realize that not having taken biochemistry and organic chemistry before taking the MCAT made my preparation more challenging than it needed to be. If I had completed these courses earlier, I would not have had to teach myself everything from scratch. I would prioritize enrolling in courses that are relevant to the MCAT before diving into MCAT preparation. Building a strong foundation in these prerequisites will be essential for understanding the key concepts tested on the MCAT and will significantly enhance the effectiveness of your study efforts.

5. Don’t Overwhelm Yourselves with Resources – Quality Over Quantity

When I first started preparing for the MCAT, I was completely overwhelmed by the sheer volume of resources available. Everywhere I turned, there were new booksprep courses, question banks, and study strategies being touted as the key to MCAT success. I fell into the trap of trying to use as many resources as possible, thinking that more was better. I'd spend hours scouring the internet for the latest MCAT tips and tricks and jumping between different question banks without any real focus or strategy. Looking back, I can see now how that approach was completely counterproductive. I was spreading myself too thin, getting bogged down in minutiae, and losing sight of the big picture. Instead of making steady progress, I was just spinning my wheels and feeling increasingly anxious about the exam.

It wasn't until I took a step back and re-evaluated my approach that things started to click. I realized that the key was to zero in on the most reputable, high-yield resources - namely, the official AAMC materials and the UWorld MCAT QBank. By focusing on these core resources, I was able to make much more efficient and effective use of my study time. If I could go back and give my pre-med self some advice, it would be to resist the urge to overwhelm yourself with resources. Trust the process, focus on quality over quantity, and lean on the proven, reputable materials that will truly prepare you for success on the MCAT.

6. Maintain Balance

Preparing for the MCAT is akin to a marathon. I would ensure a healthy balance between studying and self-care. Prioritize adequate rest, nutrition, and exercise to support cognitive function and sustained focus throughout intensive preparation are also important. I would also make sure that I am fully aware of the MCAT test dates, registration deadlines, and score release timelines to ensure I am well-prepared and can apply to medical schools on time. 

Some Additional MCAT Study Tips for a 515+ Score

Review. Review what you studied or practiced during the previous day whenever you have time. Review the problem areas you have identified in your study schedule. Regular revisions helped me retain information. You do not need formal settings for review – you can do your reviews on your way to school or work, on the bus, or on the subway. Use free time to review small chunks of information you learned the previous day.

Analyze mistakes. When you review answers, try to analyze why you answered them correctly or incorrectly. In the case of a wrong answer, go back and review the discipline or concept you were wrong about.

Talk to yourself. This may sound silly, but I always turned back to the following questions to help me make sure I understood an MCAT concept:

  1. How can I explain this concept to a friend?
  2. Can I think of a real-life scenario when this concept may be applied?
  3. How is this concept related to other concepts I already studied?

This really helped me gain deeper understanding of subjects on the MCAT.

Use active learning strategies. I am sure you are sick of hearing this, but simple review of content will not help you get a score of 515 and above! Use active study strategies such as summarizing what you learn, creating diagrams and charts that compare concepts. Check your summaries by using lecture notes, textbooks, or any of your other study resources. These practices really cemented my learning. 

What MCAT Score Do I Need for Harvard and Other Ivy League Medical Schools?

Here’s the latest accepted MCAT averages of Harvard matriculants and matriculants of other Ivy League Schools:

What is a good MCAT score in Canada?

A score of 512-513 would be considered a good MCAT score in Canada. However, keep in mind that medical schools in Canada have provincial and geographical preferences when it comes to applicants. For example, University of Saskatchewan College of Medicine will have a lower MCAT requirement for in-province applicants that out-of-province applicants. While most medial schools in Ontario do not have this kind of preferential treatment, Western University Schulich School of Medicine may forgive a lower MCAT score of an applicant from southern Ontario. Plus, remember that many medial schools in Canada actually do not require the MCAT at all! So the treatment of MCAT scores in Canadian medical school admissions is very nuanced. But a score of 512 and higher will be considered competitive.

Is 500 a Bad MCAT Score?

I hate to say it but yes, 500 score on the MCAT is not good. In fact, you will not be able to be a competitive candidate for any medical school really, even the easiest medical schools to get into. Your only option may be applying to Caribbean medical schools or retaking the MCAT.

How Long Are MCAT Scores Valid?

Most medical schools accept MCAT scores that are 2-3 years old and no older. If your score is older, you will most likely need to retake the exam. You should check in with each individual school you’re applying to in order to see their time limitations for the MCAT.

How Do Medical Schools Use MCAT Scores?

This is the million-dollar question! If only there was some kind of standard or rule, our lives as premeds would be so much easier! Here’s a quick rundown of how some medical schools use your MCAT score in admissions:

  1. Some schools use it as a screening tool in the initial stages of the admissions process. They weed out applicants with lower MCAT score and thus make the applicant pool more manageable. Only after looking at your MCAT score and seeing that you “make the cut” these schools move on to your other application components.
  2. There are some schools that claim that they use a holistic review, so they look at your MCAT, GPA, personal statement, and so on, all at the same time. This means that you can sometimes compensate a lower MCAT score with other application components.
  3. There are schools that do not use the MCAT competitively (bless those guys!). They simply want to know that you achieved their minimum MCAT requirement, but they do not use the MCAT to compare applicants. All they want to know is that you have the basic scientific knowledge and skills.
  4. There are schools that weigh certain MCAT sections more than other sections. For example, there are a few schools that openly admit that they value the CARS section above others. In fact, there are schools that only look at your CARS section and disregard the other 3. I am talking about you, McMaster!

If you get a chance, find out how your chosen schools use the MCAT in admissions. Sometimes, schools reveal this on their websites. Sometimes, you can use MSAR to learn this info. And sometimes, it can be beneficial to find a former admissions committee member who can answer this question. Many alumni end up on the admissions board and they were an applicant just like you at some point, so they may empathize and help you navigate this crazy process!

1. What is a good MCAT score?

Typically, a good score means that your score meets or exceeds the MCAT expectations of the school to which you are applying. For example, if your chosen school’s matriculants had an average MCAT score of 513, your score should not be less.

Try not to compare your score to others. This can hinder your study habits and prevent you from reaching your full potential when it comes to the MCAT.

2. What is a perfect MCAT score?

Anything above 517 is considered excellent. Remember, the highest possible score is 528. While you do not have to get the perfect score to get accepted, it never hurts to strive for the highest score possible!

3. What is the average MCAT score of accepted students?

MD matriculants have the average MCAT score of 511.7, while DOs have an average MCAT of 504.6.

4. ARE THERE SPECIFIC COURSES I CAN TAKE TO PREPARE FOR THE MCAT EXAM?

Yes, there are some medical school prerequisites that can help you prepare for the MCAT subjects. All the content on the MCAT exam is usually covered in your introductory science classes that are part of your undergraduate degree.

5. WHAT IF I DO POORLY IN ONE SECTION OF THE MCAT AND OK ON OTHERS?

You should know that schools look for consistency and balance across MCAT section scores. If one section has a much lower score, medical schools typically will assess the student as lacking in an area of scholarly competence.

6. WHEN SHOULD I TAKE THE MCAT?

Consider scheduling your MCAT test date once you consistently score in the 90th percentile in your practice tests. Remember to take the test when you feel 100% ready.

7. How long are my MCAT scores valid?

Generally, medical schools will accept MCAT scores from no more than 2 or 3 years ago. Check the MCAT score requirements of each program on their website for the most up-to-date information.

8. How do I release my MCAT score to medical schools?

Once you’ve written your MCAT and your scores have been released, you can release your scores to your chosen medical schools on your own through the AAMC online portal. You can check MCAT test and release dates to find out when your scores will be released to you, based on the day you wrote the test.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo,

BeMo Academic Consulting


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1 Comments

Anitha

Should our score match exactly with a school's median to have a chance at not being filtered out prior to secondaries?

Reply

BeMo Academic Consulting

Hello Anitha! Thanks for your question. Ideally, your score should at least match the school's median. Having a lower score may be used against you in the initial stages of the screening process. A lower score can sometimes be offset by a very high GPA - so if you are applying to a school with a higher MCAT average, then your GPA should be stellar.

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