Has my MCAT score “expired?”

repoetic

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    Hi everyone,

    I’d like to clarify some information I discovered today regarding the oldest MCAT scores you can submit to most MD programs. I took the MCAT in May 2018, before I applied for medical school in the 2018-19 cycle. Unfortunately, I was rejected at all programs and my advisor (and those on this site) suggested I take 2 gap years and apply in the 2020-21 cycle (this coming application cycle.) I was recently told that you usually need to have an MCAT score that’s at least 3 years old from the date of matriculation at most schools though, so August of 2018 would be the latest date, making my score ineligible. This is really worrying me because I’m not sure how feasible retaking the exam would be since I’m working full time. If possible, please let me know if I’m still okay at most schools with my current MCAT score! This is very concerning to me as it may have a big impact on my ability to apply next year.
     

    KnightDoc

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      Hi everyone,

      I’d like to clarify some information I discovered today regarding the oldest MCAT scores you can submit to most MD programs. I took the MCAT in May 2018, before I applied for medical school in the 2018-19 cycle. Unfortunately, I was rejected at all programs and my advisor (and those on this site) suggested I take 2 gap years and apply in the 2020-21 cycle (this coming application cycle.) I was recently told that you usually need to have an MCAT score that’s at least 3 years old from the date of matriculation at most schools though, so August of 2018 would be the latest date, making my score ineligible. This is really worrying me because I’m not sure how feasible retaking the exam would be since I’m working full time. If possible, please let me know if I’m still okay at most schools with my current MCAT score! This is very concerning to me as it may have a big impact on my ability to apply next year.
      There's really no such thing as "most schools." Each school is different wrt the earliest (or oldest, NOT latest! :)) score they will accept. You need to figure out where you want to apply and then either call the schools, see if they have the information on their web sites, or invest in MSAR and look up the information there. In general though, yeah, lots of schools will not accept a 5/18 MCAT for a 8/21 matriculation.
       
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      repoetic

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        There's really no such thing as "most schools." Each school is different wrt the earliest (or oldest, NOT latest! :)) score they will accept. You need to figure out where you want to apply and then either call the schools, see if they have the information on their web sites, or invest in MSAR and look up the information there. In general though, yeah, lots of schools will not accept a 5/18 MCAT for a 8/21 matriculation.

        Thank you for the information. I was confused by the description on many medical school websites, which usually say that they’ll take scores that are 3 years old. So if I apply in 2021, I would think that a 2018 MCAT would still be valid. When people on sdn mention this 3 year timeline are they usually referring to 3 years from the time of application submission or matriculation?
         

        Seihai

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          Thank you for the information. I was confused by the description on many medical school websites, which usually say that they’ll take scores that are 3 years old. So if I apply in 2021, I would think that a 2018 MCAT would still be valid. When people on sdn mention this 3 year timeline are they usually referring to 3 years from the time of application submission or matriculation?

          This is also different from school to school. Some require at most 3 years from time of application, while others require at most 3 years from time to submission, and still others will do similar things but with 2 year requirements instead.

          You need to do your own research and look at all of the schools you're interested in to see their individual policies.
           
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          KnightDoc

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            Thank you for the information. I was confused by the description on many medical school websites, which usually say that they’ll take scores that are 3 years old. So if I apply in 2021, I would think that a 2018 MCAT would still be valid. When people on sdn mention this 3 year timeline are they usually referring to 3 years from the time of application submission or matriculation?
            What @Seihai said.

            Schools vary in time from 2-4 years (one or two might even be longer), and some measure to matriculation, others to opening of the application cycle, and yet others to some time in between. This is why I said there is no such thing as "most schools." Three years to matriculation will cover a lot of schools, but that doesn't work for you, so you need to dig deeper to see whether or not applying without retaking will be viable for you, depending on how many, and which, schools you intend to apply to.
             

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              What @Seihai said.

              Schools vary in time from 2-4 years (one or two might even be longer), and some measure to matriculation, others to opening of the application cycle, and yet others to some time in between. This is why I said there is no such thing as "most schools." Three years to matriculation will cover a lot of schools, but that doesn't work for you, so you need to dig deeper to see whether or not applying without retaking will be viable for you, depending on how many, and which, schools you intend to apply to.

              This. I would make overtures to schools you are interested in applying to and try and get some guidance on whether your situation would be problematic or not.

              David D, MD - USMLE and MCAT Tutor
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              MaesterDean

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                What @Seihai said.

                Schools vary in time from 2-4 years (one or two might even be longer), and some measure to matriculation, others to opening of the application cycle, and yet others to some time in between. This is why I said there is no such thing as "most schools." Three years to matriculation will cover a lot of schools, but that doesn't work for you, so you need to dig deeper to see whether or not applying without retaking will be viable for you, depending on how many, and which, schools you intend to apply to.

                Hi all - New here, so not sure if this should be a separate thread, but I'm in a very similar (albeit worse) situation to the OP, having applied to MD programs a few cycles back with no post-IA acceptances. I took the MCAT back in May 2017 but am still hoping to apply in the 2020-21 application cycle. I know that retaking the exam is the logical choice, but I work in research that requires that I be in the lab 7 days a week, and seeing as I want to improve my application with community service and shadowing in the little free time I have, it just wouldn't be feasible - Plus, I was satisfied with my 513, and seeing as I am drowning in work and no longer fresh-out-of-college, I can only assume I would do worse.

                I have emailed countless admissions offices to confirm policies (unfortunately, for a majority my scores would be valid if they were from just one month later) but there are still more who will accept them than I plan to apply to (and reaches/safeties/targets among them) so I am tentatively satisfied.

                My real question is: Even for those schools who will accept my MCAT scores, how negatively will adcoms look on them? I have been advised that if the score is valid per the school's policy, I don't need to worry, but I was wondering if anyone had any insight into how older scores are evaluated. Would a 3-4 year old, still valid, score be viewed very negatively? Enough that it would not be worth applying even to those schools that say they will take them?
                 

                KnightDoc

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                  Hi all - New here, so not sure if this should be a separate thread, but I'm in a very similar (albeit worse) situation to the OP, having applied to MD programs a few cycles back with no post-IA acceptances. I took the MCAT back in May 2017 but am still hoping to apply in the 2020-21 application cycle. I know that retaking the exam is the logical choice, but I work in research that requires that I be in the lab 7 days a week, and seeing as I want to improve my application with community service and shadowing in the little free time I have, it just wouldn't be feasible - Plus, I was satisfied with my 513, and seeing as I am drowning in work and no longer fresh-out-of-college, I can only assume I would do worse.

                  I have emailed countless admissions offices to confirm policies (unfortunately, for a majority my scores would be valid if they were from just one month later) but there are still more who will accept them than I plan to apply to (and reaches/safeties/targets among them) so I am tentatively satisfied.

                  My real question is: Even for those schools who will accept my MCAT scores, how negatively will adcoms look on them? I have been advised that if the score is valid per the school's policy, I don't need to worry, but I was wondering if anyone had any insight into how older scores are evaluated. Would a 3-4 year old, still valid, score be viewed very negatively? Enough that it would not be worth applying even to those schools that say they will take them?
                  I honestly think you are overthinking it -- why on earth would a school have a policy that allows you to use a score that will be looked upon negatively due to its age? Isn't avoiding this why they have policies in the first place?

                  I just can't believe that anyone would hold using a perfectly acceptable score that is not expired as per school policy against you, when the alternative is having to prepare for and sit through the exam again, which yet other schools would hold against you for messing with a perfectly acceptable score! :)
                   

                  MaesterDean

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                    I honestly think you are overthinking it -- why on earth would a school have a policy that allows you to use a score that will be looked upon negatively due to its age? Isn't avoiding this why they have policies in the first place?

                    I just can't believe that anyone would hold using a perfectly acceptable score that is not expired as per school policy against you, when the alternative is having to prepare for and sit through the exam again, which yet other schools would hold against you for messing with a perfectly acceptable score! :)

                    Well that is nice to hear from someone, thank you! One admissions office that responded said they would accept my scores, but that "the committee might wonder why you didn't re-take it". They followed up saying that it wasn't that big if a risk, but it got me worried!!
                     
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                    KnightDoc

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                      Well that is nice to hear from someone, thank you! One admissions office that responded said they would accept my scores, but that "the committee might wonder why you didn't re-take it". They followed up saying that it wasn't that big if a risk, but it got me worried!!
                      That's pretty funny. I'm sure if the person who said that ever had to sit for the test, it would be obvious why you wouldn't retake it if you didn't absolutely have to!!! I'm also pretty sure that person has no idea what they are talking, as evidenced by the fact that they immediately hedged the remark.

                      Bottom line -- if the adcom thought that the score was stale, its policy would dictate that you retake the test, just like the schools that do so do!
                       
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