I'd say the correlation is minimal at best. I'd say there's a much better correlation b/t work ethic and success in med school though. The people at the top of their med school class aren't necessarily the ones who had the highest MCAT scores, but rather those individuals that work the hardest and are disciplined.
If you want to look at correlation between MCAT scores and something relevant, look at USMLE scores. That's supposedly one of the reasons why med schools stress the MCAT so much.
there was a study conducted out of UCSF several years ago looking at just that. the results if i remember clearly showed that students who did well on standardized exam, such as the MCAT, usually had similar performances on following USMLE exams. however, it pointed out that it had no bearing outside of that, as being a 'good' physician has little to do with performing well on sit down standardized exams. i think a great many of us in medical school can attest to the fact that we see classmates who destroy exams, but are not able to cross that over to real world applications or, perhaps more importantly, apply what they have learned to make the patient comfortable and feel that they are receiving good care. 'cure sometimes, comfort always'. there are also some correlations between scores and whether or not someone will go into primary care, or importantly provide care for the underserved.
i'm sorry i can't site the exact journal, but i'm sure if you were able to try to find it on a database you shouldn't have any trouble. i believe it was done in the early/mid 90's.
But while I passed the first midterm, I was definately below the mean.
UCSF is strictly pass/fail the first two years, and passing is 70% or better. So, while I may be a better standardized test taker than some of my classmates, or been luckier on my MCAT day (little of both, I suspect), many of them learned more of the material than I did before the first exam. I've started doing a little more studying for the next one, but expect that in no way will I set the curve anytime in the first two years.
I definately believe there is a correlation between the two. Obviously, someone who is smarter in one way (Standardized tests with lots of material under time constraits) is probably also going to do well in another (Tests with Tons of material but no real time constraints).
The main difference between the MCAT and the exams you take first year is that people study months, even years for the MCAT because the material stays the same. When you're in med school (at least at my school), we have 3-4 exams at the end of every 5-6 weeks, so you have a lot less time to prepare. The people that do extremely well on the MCAT are obviously not stupid, but the idea that you can predict basic science or clinical grades from one test (especially one as F-ed up as the MCAT) is a little much.
I don't think there's a correlation whatsoever. I got 28 on the MCAT (9-10-9), and am in the top 20% of my class and scored >90% on my boards. I know people that scored >35 on the MCAT that struggled through the pre-clinical years to get the mean. Granted, if you averaged everything out, it may look like a nice bell curve... but I'm here to show that it doesn't seal your fate.
Based on my current experiences I'm not so sure there is a correlation. The average MCAT score for my class was a 27.0, I scored a 31, so I was well above the average. So far I have only beat the average on 1 test (not counting ICM tests which I do really well on). In fact on most tests I'm very near the bottom, like <10th percentile.
Now obviously I'm probably not studying as much as I should be. I'm going to try to change that for this next block of classes I'm starting, because frankly I'm pissed about how bad I've been doing.
Funny, because right now I do seem to be somewhat correlated. I scored 30 on the MCAT (10-9-11), which I think is slightly above average at my school. On my first major set of exams, I scored higher than the mean but not in the top 20% category (except embryo of all subjects!!!)
I actually think there is very little correlation. For some there probably is, by coincidence, or some other factors...but there are countless cases where people did very well on their MCAT and struggle through med school. MCAT, USMLE, etc. test only one thing: how hard you are willing to study for an exam. There are people out there who have different work ethics, and put more value on different things in life. For example, I was above the mean on all second year exams, but by third and fourth I was tired of putting so much emphasis on my school work and so little on my life, so I began to study much less and put more into enjoying life. Your grades go down, but who cares? I also know some people who did marginal, at best, on the MCAT and did pretty darn well in med school. The MCAT exists so they can have another factor to use in weeding out applicants. You will see that there are tons of doctors you will work with who rocked on their standardized exams, and are not the best clinicians. I know some attendings who have laid-back dispositions, and saw no reason to kill themselves in med school, and did so-so, and are the greatest physicians. The bottom line is that humans have still not figured out any good way/method of measuring or determining another human's intelligence. We have loads of tests that make us feel like we're really measuring something, but we're not. If someone truly is not that intelligent, it is true that he will have difficulty on an exam...however the reverse is certainly not true. People who design these tests will be the first to tell you (in private, of course) that they have absolutely ZERO ability to tell you anything about the person taking it, and that they have absolutely no real idea yet of how to measure knowledge or intelligence. It's like the 7 day rule for antibiotics; why do we require a 7 day course for most, or 10 for some? Look it up...there's absolutely no good reason; the only reason is that we 'need' something to hang our hats on. The answer is that in our world we line up hoops all in a row, and we just have to suck it up and jump through them. Unfortunately you will find throughout your career that there are those who "aced" the hoops bit and are complete dolts.
I mentioned before that I had a good MCAT score (relative to my schools average that is) yet I was usually performing toward the very bottom of my class on tests (like 5-10th percentile). Well today I got back the results of the Biochemistry shelf exam and I beat a lot of the people in my class and scored right at the 50th percentile Nationally. I didn't exactly extend myself in the course either, and had never taken a Biochemistry class before. I know the national average isn't outstanding or anything but I was expecting less based on my tests in the class. So maybe there is something to being good at standardized tests but not other types.
My brother is a third year med student and he said that there are some people in his class with very high MCAT scores that consistently scored in the bottom half of their class on exams. In fact, one girl had a 35 MCAT and is repeating her second year. He also said that there was a girl with a 23 who is in the top percent of the class consistently and has honored in all of her clinical rotations to date.