How to explain low CARS score on second MCAT attempt?

Mar 19, 2020
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Nova's last question in their secondary: Please explain any gaps or inconsistencies in either academic or standardized test performances throughout your undergraduate, graduate, or post-graduate career.

I took the MCAT twice. 505 (126/126/124/129) first time and then 508 (128/125/127/128) second time. During CARS, I spent too much time at the beginning and was basically unable to read the last couple of passages (chose random answers). Didn't want to void because I knew I could do well on the rest of the exam.

What is the right way to explain this low subsection score without making excuses? I have a 3.97 overall GPA, nailed all my English courses and am a native English speaker.
 
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I would really appreciate any input! I know this is a rather frequently asked question, but the threads I have looked at have all had other justifications/did not retake like I did. Unsure if I should leave it blank or if it is worth mentioning.

Thanks again
 

papilloma1212

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I am only an applicant so take my advice with a pile of salt, but I would not mention it. Your CARS score is only two points lower than your bio score and 3 points lower than the others and is also in line with how you scored on the subsection during your first attempt, so I think by mentioning it you only serve to call attention to a weakness. I do not believe a *125 is prohibitively low so I wouldn't worry about it. Good luck!
 
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I am only an applicant so take my advice with a pile of salt, but I would not mention it. Your CARS score is only two points lower than your bio score and 3 points lower than the others and is also in line with how you scored on the subsection during your first attempt, so I think by mentioning it you only serve to call attention to a weakness. I do not believe a 126 is prohibitively low so I wouldn't worry about it. Good luck!

Thanks for the reply. Is it worth mentioning (without specifically mentioning CARS) that I retook because I felt nerves hindered my performance the first time?
 

papilloma1212

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Thanks for the reply. Is it worth mentioning (without specifically mentioning CARS) that I retook because I felt nerves hindered my performance the first time?
Again I am also just an applicant, but were it me I would not say that. They understand that test day anxiety is a main reason people don't score up to their expectations their first go and retake. I don't really see how mentioning that would help you, I think it could only hurt.
 
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Again I am also just an applicant, but were it me I would not say that. They understand that test day anxiety is a main reason people don't score up to their expectations their first go and retake. I don't really see how mentioning that would help you, I think it could only hurt.

You're probably right.

New problem. Doesn't let you continue without answering the question
 

KnightDoc

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I am only an applicant so take my advice with a pile of salt, but I would not mention it. Your CARS score is only two points lower than your bio score and 3 points lower than the others and is also in line with how you scored on the subsection during your first attempt, so I think by mentioning it you only serve to call attention to a weakness. I do not believe a *125 is prohibitively low so I wouldn't worry about it. Good luck!
This^^^^. It is clear you are unhappy with your CARS score, but it's not clear why you think it represents a gap or inconsistency. The scores are very consistent between the two exams, and your section scores are actually pretty well balanced. A 124 CARS with 130-132 in the other sections might be worth an explanation, but ALL of your section scores, across two exams, only have a five point variance, and both your high and low scores were on the first exam, and neither of them were CARS! Your score might be disappointing, but it hardly qualifies for a justification, since it really is in line with all of the other subsection scores on two different exams.
 
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brockhamptonfanacct

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I can't remember which adcom it was, but someone once said something along the lines of: if you were on a blind date, would you draw attention to the newest pimple you have forming? Same idea here. Your CARS score isn't anything egregious, but unnecessarily highlighting it won't do you any favors
 
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KnightDoc

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You're probably right.

New problem. Doesn't let you continue without answering the question
It might make more sense to write a few sentences regarding why you think 505-508 represents a deviation from your 3.97, but this is dangerous because the obvious implication is that your 3.97 is inflated, so be careful here!!!
 
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KnightDoc

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I can't remember which adcom it was, but someone once said something along the lines of: if you were on a blind date, would you draw attention to the newest pimple you have forming? Same idea here. Your CARS score isn't anything egregious, but unnecessarily highlighting it won't do you any favors
In this case, it's not even a pimple! :) It's not the lowest subsection score, and it's within 1, 2, 3 or 4 points of EVERY other subsection score. It's one data point in a relatively balanced universe of 8 separate subsection scores. If he tries to explain it, adcoms will wonder what the hell he is talking about.
 
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It might make more sense to write a few sentences regarding why you think 505-508 represents a deviation from your 3.97, but this is dangerous because the obvious implication is that your 3.97 is inflated, so be careful here!!!

Yeah, I've got no idea how to go about this. Stating the obvious will make it seem like I am making excuses - got my exam cancelled 3 times due to COVID, burnt out and forgot content from early on. I normally perform fine on exams, the score was disappointing to me both times.
 
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brockhamptonfanacct

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In this case, it's not even a pimple! :) It's not the lowest subsection score, and it's within 1, 2, 3 or 4 points of EVERY other subsection score. It's one data point in a relatively balanced universe of 8 separate subsection scores. If he tries to explain it, adcoms will wonder what the hell he is talking about.

Totally agree, friend! And OP -- CARS gets more leniency generally than the other subsections, especially when it's a fine score like yours. Whether or not screens exist, your 125 on that retake should ride you through most of those as well
 
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[mention]brockhamptonfanacct[/mention] Thanks for the encouragement :)

To answer the question and move on, perhaps just writing "N/A" works?
 
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Nova's last question in their secondary: Please explain any gaps or inconsistencies in either academic or standardized test performances throughout your undergraduate, graduate, or post-graduate career.

I took the MCAT twice. 505 (126/126/124/129) first time and then 508 (128/125/127/128) second time. During CARS, I spent too much time at the beginning and was basically unable to read the last couple of passages (chose random answers). Didn't want to void because I knew I could do well on the rest of the exam.

What is the right way to explain this low subsection score without making excuses? I have a 3.97 overall GPA, nailed all my English courses and am a native English speaker.
A 124 CARS is not worth answering the prompt.

The prompt is looking for explanations for disastrous stats.
 
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Rogue42

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A 124 CARS is not worth answering the prompt.

The prompt is looking for explanations for disastrous stats.
Agree with this.

My personal philosophy is to explain nothing. They are going to either give you an interview or not based on what they see - no explanation is going to change that. If they really want to know, then they will invite you for an interview and ask you then.
 
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