To Retake the MCAT or not to Retake the MCAT, that is the Question

We welcome the following guest blog post from Eliza Morrison of Tutor the People. Eliza provides good insight into deciding whether to retake the MCAT.

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By Eliza Morrison, Tutor the People

How do you know if your MCAT score is good enough? Are you going to have to retake the MCAT? Retaking the MCAT is not always necessary for premeds. What is most important is that premeds study sufficiently prior to taking the exam, so they are fully equipped the first go round.

Maybe your existing score just does not match up with your ideal programs. Maybe you know in your gut that you can do better. No matter what your circumstances are, most pre-meds inevitably consider retaking the MCAT. Here are some points to contemplate in the process:

  1. How frequently are you allowed to take the MCAT?
    1. Up to three times in one calendar year
    2. Up to four times in a two calendar year-period
    3. Up to seven times in a lifetime
  2. Had you completed your prereqs prior to your past test date(s)?
    1. If not, will you have finished your prereqs prior to your next test date?
  3. If you do decide to retake the MCAT, how long should you wait? Here are some options to take into account:
    1. When do you plan to apply to medical school? Would the scores be released close to that time period?
    2. Do you realistically have time to dedicate to studying for the MCAT? Studying for the MCAT can be a full-time job, and unless you really have the time to hammer it out, the retake could be a waste of time, money, and potential. Check out the MCAT Test Dates for reference.
  4. What will admissions committees think about your multiple MCAT scores?
    1. Some programs will consider your highest score
    2. Some programs will focus mainly on your most recent score
    3. Some programs will consider your highest score on each section
    4. Some programs will consider the average of all of your scores
    5. Definitely, check the policy with each school you plan to apply to prior to retaking. If they do not publish this info on their site, call them

Once you have considered these preliminary points, you should then take into account the following:

  1. Numbers don’t lie: focus on the facts
    1. Check the score requirements for each program to which you would like to apply. Utilize AAMC’s official MSAR comparison. What is your cumulative GPA? What is your sciences GPA? How do the three numbers look juxtaposed with one another?
  2. Truthfully, did you give it your all the first go round?
    1. What was your MCAT preparation like for your initial test date? Were there gaps in your studying? Were you fully committed? Did you practice strictly independent studying? Did you work with a private MCAT tutor? Do you feel like you can do better?
    2. Does it all boil down to strategy and freaking out in the testing environment? Actually sitting down and taking the MCAT can be so stressful and render MCAT PTSD! It happens. Could this have been the case for you? If so, it’s time to start to build your confidence! Find steps you can take to get this process started.
    3. Would you benefit from an overall content review and then pinpointing areas in which you could brush up on strategy?
  3. Time to take action:
    1. If you decide to retake the MCAT, how will your preparation differ from last time?
    2. If you did purely independent studying in the past, consider more structured preparation this time, such as working with a private MCAT tutor or joining an MCAT class/study group. Troubleshoot your former approach and find new ways you can supplement your studying to overcome the hurdles.

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Eliza Morrison is a Co-Founder of Tutor the People, an online and in-person MCAT tutoring company. The other founder, Andrew, is a fourth-year medical student. Eliza is an experienced pre-med advisor and has helped students and tutors alike to gain acceptance to top medical schools.

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