What MCAT score do you need to get into medical school? How do you achieve a high MCAT score? These are questions you might be asking as you prepare your medical school application. Taking the MCAT is a scary prospect, considering all the stories you hear about its difficulty, stressful test conditions, and influence on medical school acceptance rates. And while it is possible to get into medical school with a low MCAT, we strongly encourage you to do your best to achieve a good MCAT score that will make you a competitive candidate at your chosen medical schools.

This article will show you how to get a good MCAT score, provide you with MCAT test prep strategies, and tell you everything you need to know about the test day.x

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Article Contents
19 min read

MCAT Score Requirements for Medical School What Is a Good MCAT Score? Why Is It Important to Get a Good MCAT Score? How Is the MCAT Scored? How to Get a Good MCAT Score? How to Study for the MCAT Getting Ready to Take the MCAT Retaking the MCAT for a Better Score FAQs

MCAT Score Requirements for Medical School

List of Medical Schools with Lowest MCAT Score Requirements

List of Medical Schools with Highest MCAT Requirements


Use our MCAT Scaled Score Calculator to calculate your raw MCAT score!


What Is a Good MCAT Score?

The simple answer is that a good MCAT score is a score equal to or higher than the average accepted MCAT score at your chosen schools, or a score that surpasses their MCAT score cut-off or threshold. Medical school requirements for MCAT scores will differ depending on the program: some schools will not consider an applicant with a score lower than 511, while others may be happy to accept students with lower scores. But you want to do better than good! Try not to focus on just one number and seek to score as highly as possible regardless of cut-offs or matriculant averages. Still, to put things into perspective, it’s good to understand how scores and percentile ranks fit together in the big picture.

1. What is an Excellent MCAT Score?

To get an excellent MCAT score means to score in the overall 90th percentile or higher, which currently means a score of 515 or greater. With an MCAT score of 515 or above, you have a significantly better chance of getting accepted. Anything above the score of 517 is considered outstanding. With that kind of score, it will be difficult for med schools to reject your application! There will still be some ultra-elite programs that have higher score thresholds for admission, but these are truly few and far between.

2. What Is a Competitive MCAT Score?

A score at or above the mean – or 50th percentile – for all applicants could be considered competitive. Why? The mean measures the overall average and in this context would be the average of every student who has taken the MCAT and applied to a medical school. Based on current data, the mean score for all applicants is approximately 506, so in essence any score above 506 would be “above average.” With a score of 506 or above, you have a fairly good chance of medical school acceptance to all but the most elite programs.

However, the AAMC also provides data based on matriculant scores, aka successful applicants. This is, unsurprisingly, higher than the applicant mean – 511.5 to be exact, which is in the 80th percentile for overall test-takers. So, to be truly competitive with the students most likely to be accepted, this is the score range you should aim for.

3. What Is a Less-Competitive MCAT Score?

A less competitive score would be below the matriculant average but still above the applicant average, and in most cases sits at around the 75th percentile overall – so about 507–509. This category is among the most slippery in terms of application, as a 509 for many schools will be quite competitive, while it doesn’t even make the cut-off in highly competitive MD programs like Mayo’s Alix School of Medicine. The closer you are to the overall mean, the less competitive your score is, basically. 

4. What Is a Poor MCAT Score?

A poor MCAT score is any score that doesn’t get you into a medical school, but statistically this would be a score below the overall mean or average, so a score of 506 or less. A poor MCAT score could also be considered anything below the 50th percentile for recent test-takers, which is approximately 501. While there are some schools that will accept an MCAT score this low, they’re uncommon, and if you’ve scored below 500 you may instead wish to retake the MCAT or examine which medical schools don’t require the MCAT at all.

Would you rather watch a video to learn how to ace your MCAT exam?

What is a Good MCAT Score for DO vs MD?

The mean MCAT score of MD matriculants in the last application cycle was 506.5. DO matriculants had an average MCAT score of 503.8. Keep in mind that these numbers fluctuate slightly every year.

While it may seem that getting into DO programs may be easier based on the average MCAT score of DO matriculants, this is not necessarily the case. DO school rankings indicate that many of the osteopathic medical schools in the US have MCAT score averages that are equal to or higher than some MD schools.

Your preparations for the MCAT will not be any different if you’re planning to apply to both types of programs. Remember, you do not want to simply meet the minimum MCAT expectation of the schools to which you are applying. Whether you choose osteopathic or allopathic programs, aim to get the highest score possible.

Remember, when it comes to medical acceptance rates, there is also a correlation between your GPA and your MCAT score. The lower your GPA, the higher your MCAT score needs to be for you to have a chance of being accepted. Even if your GPA is relatively competitive, your chances will still decrease if your MCAT is far below average. For example, applicants with a GPA greater than 3.79 have only a 17.7% chance of acceptance if their MCAT is lower than 500. However, if they score above 510, their chances increase to 67%! Applicants with a GPA of 3.4 to 3.59 need to get a score of 517 to have a 62% chance of getting in. If you want to research your chances based on the latest statistics, check out AAMC’s correlation grid.

Do not settle for one specific score. Prepare, study, and aim to get the highest score possible in your first test sitting. Do not settle for the minimum requirements. This kind of outlook will not encourage your study habits and determination.

Why Is It Important to Get a Good MCAT Score?

Your MCAT score matters. It is not the most important component of your medical school application, but it is one of the first to be reviewed by the admissions committee. And while your extracurriculars for medical school, application essays, and medical school recommendation letters paint a bigger, detailed picture of your journey to medical school, your MCAT score may be that one component that either allows or prevents the admissions committee from continuing their review of your application.

Essentially, many medical schools in Canada and medical schools in the US use GPAs and MCAT scores to weed out applicants in the initial stages of the applicant selection process. These statistics are deemed as indicators of your academic abilities; consequently, if you don’t meet the school's academic expectations, you will be cut out of the applicant pool. For instance, if you don’t meet the minimum MCAT score cut-off, your application is automatically rejected in the initial review stages. While many schools do not have official MCAT cut-offs, do not be fooled. In most cases, the previous year's matriculants set the standard for the following year’s applicant pool. So, if the matriculants of your school of choice had the average MCAT of 511 in the previous application cycle, you should aim to achieve a score of no less than 511, and preferably higher to maximize your chances of acceptance.


Use our Medical School Chance Predictor to calculate your chances of acceptance!


It's important to achieve not only a high overall score, but consistently high scores in each section of the MCAT. While some schools will privilege specific sections – McMaster only considers CARS scores, for instance – most schools will want to see well-rounded performance throughout the exam. Additionally, many schools will have individual section cut-off scores. UBC and Dalhousie each have section-score minimums, 124 and 123, respectively, meaning that a well-rounded and consistent performance on the MCAT will help you far more than achieving a stellar score in only one or two MCAT sections. 

If you’re applying to schools with section-specific score thresholds, it’s in your best interest to make sure your MCAT study plan covers all the bases, and that you give yourself as much time as possible to ensure you don’t rush through any portion of your studying. You can use an MCAT diagnostic test to determine which sections are your strongest and which sections are your weakest, using those results to craft your ideal MCAT study schedule.

Getting a score that matches or exceeds the expectations of your chosen schools can eliminate the chance that your application will be tossed aside in the initial stages of the selection process. A good MCAT score can help you meet the expectations of the schools you apply to and increase the likelihood that the admissions committee will move on to review your other application components.

How do Medical Schools Evaluate My MCAT Score if I’ve Retaken the Test?

Certain medical schools will consider only your most recent MCAT score or your highest MCAT score if you’ve taken the exam more than once. Other programs will consider the average score of all your MCAT attempts. Some schools will share this evaluation information with you, and you can check how schools evaluate your MCAT score using MSAR. Keep in mind that due to how much the MCAT costs, it’s better to avoid retaking the test if you’ve already earned a competitive score.

Selecting Medical Schools Based on MCAT Score

There is one important rule of thumb all medical school applicants should follow: apply to schools where you meet or exceed the GPA and MCAT expectations. While it’s true that some schools may forgive a lower MCAT in favor of a high GPA, you do not want to waste your time and money applying to schools where your grades and scores would seem like a weakness.

When you apply, you want to avoid all possible reasons for schools to eliminate your application from the applicant pool. Your MCAT and GPA are typically the first things committee members look at; therefore, you must ensure they are not used against you in the selection process. Passing the initial stage of MCAT and GPA review means that the admissions committee can take a look at your stellar personal statement, impressive employment and volunteer history, glowing letters of recommendation, and so on. Meeting the MCAT and GPA cut-offs also increases your chances of moving on in the selection process, which can result in being invited to complete secondary essays, and even attend an interview.

How Is the MCAT 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 answering incorrectly. Make sure to answer all questions when you take the test; even if you are unsure of the answer, it's best to make an educated guess!

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. The conversion is administered to ensure scoring fairness for all students taking the MCAT. As there are several different test forms in a given year, they may range in difficulty somewhat. While they are each designed to test the same knowledge and skills, the administrators scale the scores to compensate for any slight differences in difficulty.

The conversion of your correct answers to the scaled score is done through a process called equating, which compensates for small variations in the difficulty between different sets of questions.

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 or who else is taking the test with you.

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.

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. Log into your AAMC account, and under the My Reports tab you’ll be able to click on “Send Scores Electronically” and choose your program from there. Just make sure to release your scores well before the medical school application deadline. 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.

Want MCAT study tips? Check out the video below:

How to Get a Good MCAT Score?

How do you adequately prepare for the MCAT to achieve the highest score possible? The secret is knowing what’s on the exam, learning its format, and then taking as many practice tests as you can. Of course, this means giving yourself plenty of time to prep and study the test material. If you’re wondering “when should I take the MCAT?”, the answer is as soon as you’re 100% ready. Plan for at least 6 months of MCAT studying to give yourself enough time to prepare.

#1 Know what is on the exam

First things first, you need to understand what to expect from the MCAT. The AAMC provides an online resource that you can consult for information about each MCAT section as well as helpful video tutorials, sample questions, and explanations. It might be a good idea to download the print-friendly version of this resource and reference it alongside your coursework when studying. It will serve as a guide to what disciplines and study areas you should focus on.

Here's an overview of the different sections of the MCAT:

#2 Take Practice Tests

To prepare a study plan, you must first know where you stand and how much you already know; that is, you need to establish your baseline. You should take a full-length MCAT diagnostic test to identify your strengths and weaknesses in the disciplines and areas covered in the exam. Unfortunately, practice tests are usually not free. It’s recommended to practice with the official AAMC tests, as they provide a scaled score. You will get results with feedback and answers to all questions, as well as the percentage of your correct answers in each section. AAMC test materials are available for purchase. They are most reflective of the actual exam, so they are a good investment. There are four AAMC practice tests. Each test gives you a score between 118 and 132 and indicates how many questions you answered correctly in percentile format.

Why should you take MCAT diagnostic tests?

A practice exam provides detailed explanations of your correct and incorrect answers, so you can learn as you are taking the test. You will be able to strategize which disciplines, concepts, and skills you need to strengthen and include them in your MCAT study schedule. Some sections may be easier and more familiar, while others will pose a challenge. Once you know which sections of the test you must work on, you will be able to gather the necessary resources and organize a study plan to fill in the gaps. For instance, if your weak area is chemistry, you can use some MCAT chemistry practice passages. If the MCAT physics section is intimidating, try practicing with some MCAT prep questions on the same subject.

It's important that you take the full-length exam in one sitting. This way, you will know what taking the actual exam will be like. The MCAT is a long exam, and it can easily exhaust you if you neglect to practice your MCAT timing, too. Try to recreate the exam environment to feel more prepared when you walk into the testing center. To do this, know the test day's schedule, that is, items allowed in the test center, check-in procedures, duration of breaks, and so on. Try taking the test outside of your home, somewhere like a local library or a campus classroom. Recreating the setting will help you feel more prepared and build stamina.

Next, we’ll look at our top study tips to help you achieve your best MCAT score!

How to Study for the MCAT

So, how to study for the MCAT to achieve your dream score? You can use the AAMC worksheets to document how you did on the practice exam or create your own method of keeping score. List your concerns and challenges for each MCAT section.

You can also write down general concerns about taking the test: Did you lose focus? Did you get tired halfway through the test? Were some sections completely unknown to you? This worksheet will be a good tool to outline specific concepts, categories, disciplines, and skills you will need to improve.

The next step in your study plan should be to assemble information and study resources. Gather all the materials that will help you focus on the content of the exam, as well as on how to practice and apply your knowledge in the exam setting.

Some of these may include:

  1.  Voicing or writing down summaries of what you have read or watched
  2. Explaining concepts in your own words to people who have nothing to do with the medical field. If they understand your explanation, you are on the right track!
  3. Applying concepts and ideas you learn to real-life scenarios
  4. Making flashcards with concepts that are most challenging to you
  5. Discussing MCAT content with fellow medical school applicants
  6. Taking full-length tests
  7. Practicing with sample passage-based questions. Sample MCAT CARS questions are especially helpful study resources for this challenging section of the test!
  8. Reading. The CARS portion of the MCAT consists of 9 passages with 5–7 questions per passage. These are meant to test your reading comprehension and reasoning skills. Make sure you practice with challenging reading materials for CARS and improve your MCAT reading comprehension!

You can use the AAMC worksheets to schedule your study plan or create your own. Your study schedule should include three main components: study areas, time allotted to each area, and useful resources. This study schedule must include all your study responsibilities, including for your courses, and how many hours you will dedicate to each activity. In your areas of study, be sure to outline the concepts and disciplines you need to improve. Then, you should calculate how many hours of study you have available each day. Useful resources include all the study sources and strategies that will help you learn.

Remember, your study plan and strategies will change throughout the process, and this is completely normal. After a few weeks of studying, you may think you need to rearrange the timeline, or the number of hours dedicated to each discipline. You may also add new resources to your plan. Adjust your schedule accordingly and do not panic if it changes. This is why early preparation is important. The earlier you start, the more flexible your schedule can be. To get a better idea of how to approach this awesome task, you can consult resources that discuss when to start studying for the MCAT and build your schedule with a target date in mind.

MCAT Study Tips

If you need help in your MCAT preparation, you may want to look into getting a medical school advisor. Having the right person guiding you through medical school applications can make the process much easier.

Want our help with your MCAT prep? Hear what students say about our services:

Getting Ready to Take the MCAT

If you are happy with your test results, and you are scoring well consistently, you may be ready to take the actual exam. It would be a huge mistake to take the test if you happened to score well in just one practice – it may have been a fluke. Before taking the test, make sure you score well in all your practices. Make sure you see improvement in your score after each practice test.

Try to get at least 90% of questions right on your practice tests before taking the real MCAT!

Once you're ready to take the test, you'll need to look into registering to take the MCAT at a test center near you. Keep in mind that you can retake the MCAT exam 7 times in a lifetime and three times in an application cycle. However, taking the exam so many times in an application cycle might make a poor impression. Decide on the best MCAT date for you and make sure your scores will be released well before the application deadline.

Do you want some more tips on how to ace the MCAT? Check out our video:

Retaking the MCAT for a Better Score

If you still end up with a score that doesn’t open the doors you want it to, retaking the MCAT is a somewhat painful but not entirely uncommon option. Approximately 95% of test-takers have tested once or twice, at most, and there is a slim percentage of students who successfully increased their scores after a third or even fourth session. Generally, though, you should approach any consideration of retesting as an extreme and last resort. Nevertheless, if your first or most recent testing experience leaves you wanting a retake, then there are a couple of simple follow-up questions that can help you make that decision.

1. Are my current section scores and/or overall score high enough for my desired programs?

If the schools you’ve set your sights on have specific thresholds, then your answer here requires no guesswork. If your score is well below these cut-offs and you have only a few weeks to prepare, it may be better to change your plans to consider schools that have lower cut-offs or don’t require the MCAT at all, but if you have at least 2–3 months to prepare, then a retest may turn out well.

2. Can I score better on a retake?

Obtaining a lower score on a retake is a huge red flag for admissions committees, signaling that you may lack the ability to learn from your mistakes. If you’re super pressed for time or are totally burnt out from a previous test, it’s likely better to aim for different schools than retest. Additionally, according to data provided by the AAMC, test-takers whose initial scores ranged from 472 to 517 saw a median score gain of only 2–3 points. And for students who scored a 518 or higher, the median score gain was 0, meaning that approximately half of those who retested after a 518+ scored lower than they did before. Given the stakes, it’s vital to be unreservedly realistic in estimating the likelihood of a successful retest. However, if you’ve got time and, most importantly, the means to improve your study strategies and outcomes, then retesting is worth considering.

If your aim is still to retest after answering these two questions, some basic practices exist to ensure you come out with a higher score the next time. The first is obviously to maximize the amount of time you have before your retest. This doesn’t mean taking an extra year off but rather, giving yourself at least another 2–3 months to prepare – up to 6 months at most.

The other point is that you must have an updated and improved strategy for your retest. You can’t expect to improve your score by simply repeating the process that already disappointed you, so take some time to explore the options available, including prep services, new materials, or advisors to help you. To get a new score, you’ll need to employ updated methods, so before scheduling a retest be sure you have a new and improved strategy. By following our suggestions, you can get a great MCAT score, whether you’re taking the test for the first time, or looking into how to do much better on a retake.


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 cannot be less.

While you cannot ignore the numbers, try not to focus on one score in particular. 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 that perfection!

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

MD matriculants have the average MCAT score of 511.5, while DO’s have MCAT of 503.8.

4. Can I reschedule my MCAT exam?

If you already registered to take the MCAT but don't feel ready as the day approaches, visit the AAMC MCAT page to see if you're within the deadline to reschedule your exam. Rescheduling fees may apply.

5. When should I take the MCAT exam?

The best time to take the exam is when you feel most ready. Remember, you should be scoring in the 90th percentile on practice tests. Before you make your decision consider the following:

a. When you plan to attend medical school. Many students choose to take the MCAT exam the same year they are applying to medical programs.

b. Do you think you will need to retake the exam? Many applicants test more than once. If you think you may need to take the exam more than once, then you are likely not ready the first time. Taking the MCAT exam is expensive, stressful and time-consuming, so it's best to only plan to take the test once and write it when you are 100% confident in your abilities.

6. 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. All the content on the MCAT exam is usually covered in your introductory science classes that are part of your undergraduate degree. Research methods and statistics are also part of your introductory social science classes.

7. How many times can I take the MCAT exam?

Be mindful that schools are able to see all the times you took the MCAT exam. In a single testing year, you can take the MCAT three times. In two consecutive years, you may sit the exam four times. You can take the MCAT exam seven times in your lifetime.

8. What is the most difficult section of the MCAT?

Typically, the MCAT CARS section is considered to be the most challenging. Because no background knowledge is needed to answer CARS questions, it is difficult to know how to prepare. Make sure to develop a good MCAT CARS strategy to tackle any CARS passage you encounter on the exam.

9. Should I take the breaks offered during the test?

Yes, it is a good idea to take the breaks. These short recesses will give you a mental break. Try to keep your mind off the test. Even if you do not feel like you need a break when it is announced, you might start feeling overwhelmed as the test goes on. Do not miss your break opportunities. Take your time to have a snack, stretch and grab a drink.

10. I tend to get stressed and anxious when I take tests. Is there some stress relief advice you can give?

There are some long- and short-term stress relief strategies you can practice. Four to six months before you take the MCAT pay attention to your diet. Plan your study schedule in order to have time for exercise and sleep. Most importantly, do not cram – make sure you give yourself enough time to prepare for the test.

A week before your test, start to slow down on studying. Do not study the day before your scheduled test, relax, and get a good night’s sleep. Before you sit down to take the test take some calming breathes and visualize success in your mind, for example, you can imagine getting that coveted medical school acceptance letter. Focus on your test, block out other test-takers and stick to your plan and strategies.

11. What if I do poorly in one section of the MCAT and OK on others?

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

12. Won’t medical schools always choose applicants with higher MCAT scores over those with lower MCAT scores?

While it is true that some schools will choose the applicant with a higher MCAT score when confronted with 2 equally deserving applicants, some schools use other criteria to break those ties. For example, some schools may put more value in your application essays, CASPer, or letters of recommendation. If you want to increase your chances, try sending in a medical school letter of intent to your top-choice school.

13. 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.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo,

BeMo Academic Consulting

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


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.