May 7, 2019
4
0
1
Status
Pre-Medical
Should I retake the MCAT in August?
Applying this coming cycle to MD/PhD and taking two gap years. Background: Current PI is a “big deal” with strong connections at top programs. Been in the same lab for 4 years. 1st and 2nd author pubs being submitted this summer.

I took the mcat twice my Junior year(2.5 years ago: 514, 514). I have very bad test-taking anxiety and have been trying to work on improving this. I want to have a shot of getting into some MSTP programs with a 3.6 cGPA w/strong upwards trend. So I took the mcat a third time last month. I felt prepared after getting 521+ on AAMC full lengths 10 days before the exam. However, I got much less than my usual practice scores in C/P and P/S and got a 516 . I know I can do better, the first section is the peak of my anxiety and probably should have had less caffeine beforehand. The last section was unusually difficult and apparently my 50/50 guesses for the “best answer” didn’t go my way. If I did retake, and sent a much better score to schools that are still considering me in September, would this hurt or help me?
 
Last edited:
Sep 28, 2018
94
191
41
Status
Medical Student (Accepted)
I don't think you should retake seeing as you have the matriculant average MCAT. Be proud of your score, it's a big achievement! I think a fourth retake after scoring well this time would start to raise questions about whether you are letting perfectionism get in the way of progressing to the next step.
 
  • Like
Reactions: faerie62
Feb 27, 2019
26
103
41
Status
Attending Physician
We consider the MCAT to be binary...ie, we need it to be a certain number for the med school, but once its over that number, it doesn't matter any more. A 516 would hit our threshold. I wouldn't think any better of the applicant if they hit a 521+ - what we are looking for once you hit the threshold is commitment to science, an ability to explain your project, a realistic view of physician scientist training, etc.

We've had great students at the 90th percentile and terrible students at the 100th percentile. The score is just a score.
 

Fencer

MSTP Director
10+ Year Member
Oct 10, 2007
1,488
1,721
281
TEXAS (Eden)
Status
Attending Physician
Agree with above advice from MSTPadvocate. Some other MSTPs will consider highly your application with your current 514/513, particularly with a strong research experience as you have. PM me if you have questions that you don't want to disclose publicly.
 
OP
SoberPony
May 7, 2019
4
0
1
Status
Pre-Medical
I don't think you should retake seeing as you have the matriculant average MCAT. Be proud of your score, it's a big achievement! I think a fourth retake after scoring well this time would start to raise questions about whether you are letting perfectionism get in the way of progressing to the next step.
Yes I was afraid of that and I guess my time would be better spent doing other things. Just worried about the potential rejections due to weaker stats. I did not realize that perfectionism is so frowned upon, but that’s good to know— thanks!
 
Last edited:
OP
SoberPony
May 7, 2019
4
0
1
Status
Pre-Medical
Agree with above advice from MSTPadvocate. Some other MSTPs will consider highly your application with your current 514/513, particularly with a strong research experience as you have. PM me if you have questions that you don't want to disclose publicly.
We consider the MCAT to be binary...ie, we need it to be a certain number for the med school, but once its over that number, it doesn't matter any more. A 516 would hit our threshold. I wouldn't think any better of the applicant if they hit a 521+ - what we are looking for once you hit the threshold is commitment to science, an ability to explain your project, a realistic view of physician scientist training, etc.

We've had great students at the 90th percentile and terrible students at the 100th percentile. The score is just a score.
I appreciate your response. If it won’t really help me then I suppose it’s not worth it. I know it’s a bit neurotic to be asking about retaking when my MCAT score is in 90+ percentile... I think my worries stem from someone who told me that when they were on the admission committee at a top 5 program they had an MCAT cutoff of 36 for all applicants. From the answers I’ve gotten it seem that taking a 4th time would hurt me even if I got a 520+, so I’m leaning towards not taking it again!
 
Feb 16, 2019
7
7
11
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
Agree with above advice from MSTPadvocate. Some other MSTPs will consider highly your application with your current 514/513, particularly with a strong research experience as you have. PM me if you have questions that you don't want to disclose publicly.

Is there anything that you can tell us about the "filtering" process that would be helpful? My principal concern at this stage is getting past the filtering and being offered as many secondaries and interviews as possible. From what I understand, it's a whole different ballgame past that point.

I spoke with an admissions office at a top program at length about the specific mechanisms of the application process- who sees the application and in what order, how filtering happens, etc... They did specify a functional MCAT percentile cutoff. (I know someone in the program who was accepted with a score below this [exceptional applicant]).

Can you suggest way to craft our application such that we can avoid being filtered and survive to the next step? An approach to communication with admissions offices that would be helpful to this end?

I have a very similar profile to the OP: 90th percentile on the MCAT[514], weak GPA (3.5, I don't know about OP but I have a couple of Cs and 1 D). Super strong research Ugrad and in 2.5 years research job after Bachelors.
 

Fencer

MSTP Director
10+ Year Member
Oct 10, 2007
1,488
1,721
281
TEXAS (Eden)
Status
Attending Physician
Every program is different. Some of the cut-offs (particularly: MCAT, cGPA, and clinical hours) are pushed by the SOM on the MD/PhD. Some highly ranked programs will automatically cut you by one (or more) of the academic benchmarks. This is why you apply 5-10 dream schools, but you assess your competitive level and apply to 5-10 other MSTPs, and you have some large non-MSTP MD/PhD programs as another target.

Look at the table B-8 of the AAMC Facts for MD/PhD applicants and matriculants, and arrange by Matriculants/Applicants. Order your MSTPs and try to include programs with a larger ratio, and who admit at least 4-5 students per class.

In my own program, the committee cares most about "super strong research" and LORs validating that... but that is because you are above our generous cut-offs. One number doesn't define you. PM me if you need.