Retaking the MCAT - Everything You Need to Know
Retaking the MCAT needs to be avoided at all costs. This exam requires extensive preparation, the test day is grueling, and there are limits as to when you can take the exam.
I understand you may become ill on test day, be extremely nervous or simply not fare well on the test and it becomes a necessity to try once more.
If you are even remotely considering if another MCAT test will be beneficial I am going to help you decide your next steps so you can realize your goal of becoming a doctor.
Everyone has differing criteria on what is an acceptable MCAT score so I am not going to provide details on what is a low MCAT score, minimal cutoffs, or what is a high score. As a premed student you are going to have to consult with your advisors, medical school representatives, and ultimately yourself to decide if your score is competitive based on your unique background or if retaking the MCAT is what needs to be done.
The first thing you need to do is reflect on everything which you did leading up to test day.
Did you set a realistic study schedule to learn all of the material?
Were you aware of the content which would be tested?
Was there a disturbing occurrence within the week/day of the test which prevented you from performing well?
It is important to know what prevented you from achieving success on your first try, otherwise you will have the same result when retaking the MCAT. Therefore, reflect and do an honest assessment of yourself, preparation and test day to find out what affected your score.
Once you find what went wrong you must correct it before retaking the test. If you did not have adequate time to prepare and got off of your study schedule this is an easy remedy. You need to devise a schedule and stick to it regardless of any distractions. If you fall into this boat instead of taking the exam you should have rescheduled your exam instead of pushing forward.
For instance, I was planning on taking my MCAT about three weeks after my college graduation. By the time senior week came, graduation itself, and vacationing with my family I realized I had fallen behind in my study schedule. I did the humble thing and rescheduled my exam knowing that a delay of a few weeks would save me a lot of heartache if I should get a low MCAT score by taking the exam as originally scheduled.
If you prepared extremely well, went over all of the materials, took the practice exams and did poorly then this may be an issue. Your practice exams are a general indicator of how well you will do on the actual MCAT test so if you had comparable scores then it says something about your ability to master the sciences. I would advise you to seriously consider if medicine is an appropriate field or whether an allied health or research position may be a better alternative. I don't want to dash your hopes of becoming a physician but in order to get into medical school the MCAT must be mastered.
On the other hand, you may have had great MCAT test prep, had high scores on practice exams and simply bombed the actual exam due to:
- nervousness or
- another factor.
If this scenario describes you I would strongly advise retaking the MCAT. But before doing so you must ensure whatever mental block prevented you from performing well has been resolved, otherwise you may be retaking the MCAT and find that your score has stayed the same or even worse, dropped.
HELP Just for YOU!!!
If you have to retake the MCAT you're going to have to give yourself every advantage possible to ensure your score goes up. I was recently talking to a physician who sits on the admissions committee at Howard University and his words were a harsh reminder of how important the Medical College Admission Test is for students who are taking it again.
The doctor said, "You have to do better the next time around because if your score drops your chances of getting in are virtually impossible." Medical schools are looking for improvement so having a lower score is very bad when retaking the MCAT.
With so much riding on the line you are definitely going to want to get your hands on my book,How to Beat the MCAT which was written to give you every advantage possible on this make or break test of your premedical career. You have everything to gain with this amazing book that details more than just MCAT testing strategies. You'll also learn how to effectively review the basic sciences so you can apply this knowledge on the exam itself!
But if you need a comprehensive MCAT preparation course I have exactly what you need. This is a streamlined MCAT course covering everything you need to know in-order to be successful on your retake of the Medical College Admission Test. You'll have access to step-by-step instructions and over 400 pages of MCAT content review material for you to study. With so much riding on your medical school future you cannot go wrong with the Ultimate MCAT Study Course.
Today it is a lot easier to retake the MCAT simply because the test is offered more than twice a year, it's now available from January through September.
This means you have the opportunity to sit for another test and not be negatively affected in getting your application submitted. You still want to follow the golden rule of submitting everything as early as possible.
The consensus has always been that August is very late in the application cycle to be submitting materials. I advise taking the MCAT by the end of July, regardless of whether it is your first time or you are retaking the exam. August is pushing the unspoken deadline of what is a timely application because there is also a lag time of a few weeks (3-4) before your scores become available. Thus, taking the exam in September is not advised at all unless you are preparing to apply the following year.
MCAT Testing History
Medical schools will know if you retake the MCAT and each school has varying policies on how they handle multiple scores. Some schools are very direct in acknowledging they will only consider the most recent set of scores.
While others will take the best score from each section of the exam regardless of the test date. This is probably your most favorable option.
Other institutions will average the scores of each section from all of the test dates.
You will also find medical schools may consider the overall testing history and consider each exam date on its own merit.
There are too many ways in which medical schools can slice and dice your scores when retaking the MCAT so you need to contact the schools individually and find out their policy on multiple MCAT exams.