Feb 8, 2021
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Hi everyone, I know that this has been asked before but I am unsure of what to do with my situation and would like to get some advice (since every case is different). I took my first mcat in September and scored a 506 (129/121/129/127) and knew that I needed to retake. I was constantly reviewing my sciences while trying to really focus in on CARs. For CARs I finished working on the NextStep 108 passages book, worked through Jack Westin (all the passages until it started to recycle the passages), redid Khan Academy passages, reworked AAMC CARs volume 1 + 2, and also worked on the new CARs diagnostic tool. I retested in January and recently got back my score 511 (130/123/131/127). As of right now, I am unsure of what to do as I am scared of getting filtered out of MD schools. I am currently a 4th year and going to graduate this upcoming spring and really need to start focusing on getting those clinical hours. As of right now, my current GPA is a 3.947 cumulative and science GPA is pretty close to that (maybe a little lower but not significantly). I am really aiming just for a MD school and open to the idea of DO school. What would be y'all advice in this situation? (might help but I have major test anxiety and only got 2 hours of sleep the night before my re-test, I don't think that this really affected me as I was feeling wide awake from that adrenaline)



Overview of Stats:

1st MCAT 506 (129/121/129/127)

2nd MCAT 511 (130/123/131/127)

Cumulative GPA: 3.947 (2 quarters left that can affect GPA)

Need Clinical Hours During Gap Years (plan on applying 2022-2023 cycle)



After talking to friends and searching the threads I am getting mixed reviews on this. I know that my CARs is really low and I am unsure if all that extra time spent restudying for the test will be worth it as I am a solid 6 months into studying and seem to not be able to break the CARs threshold. I am leaning towards forgetting about the MCAT and just using this time to now really focus on getting my hours up during the gap years as I feel that if I commit fully to the MCAT again, it will come at the expense of getting those hours. I also do not want to run the risk of getting a lower score the third time around. I would appreciate any input that y'all have. Thank you again so much.
 
Feb 5, 2020
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Yeah, don't take the MCAT again since it's risky if you get the same score, or worse, a lower score. Beef up your EC's, and hope that your high GPA will be enough for the academic stats.
 
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Oct 31, 2020
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I think your GPA is great and your MCAT isn’t bad either. Granted I can understand your frustration that first glance is only 511 when clearly your performance in science sections demonstrates mastery/ability to do the coursework required in medical school. CARS is definitely a section that tests mental stamina... and so i can imagine that retaking the MCAT you’re still going to be focused on CARS and still won’t get the score you want.

If medical admissions are really as ‘holistic’ as they claim to be then rather than retaking the MCAT I would try to find a class/EC/research/volunteering etc. that demonstrates to admissions committees that you do have the ability to think critically. I think what could be incredibly valuable for your application would be if you took a class like literature or philosophy that you could get a strong LOR from to testify to your ability to think critically not just as a scientist but as an individual etc.
 
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Feb 8, 2021
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I think your GPA is great and your MCAT isn’t bad either. Granted I can understand your frustration that first glance is only 511 when clearly your performance in science sections demonstrates mastery/ability to do the coursework required in medical school. CARS is definitely a section that tests mental stamina... and so i can imagine that retaking the MCAT you’re still going to be focused on CARS and still won’t get the score you want.

If medical admissions are really as ‘holistic’ as they claim to be then rather than retaking the MCAT I would try to find a class/EC/research/volunteering etc. that demonstrates to admissions committees that you do have the ability to think critically. I think what could be incredibly valuable for your application would be if you took a class like literature or philosophy that you could get a strong LOR from to testify to your ability to think critically not just as a scientist but as an individual etc.
Thank you so much for you input! I am also on the verge of not retaking as I do not know how else to improve CARs. At this point, I feel that my time would be better spent on better myself though the ECs that I do. I also want to grow as a person and hope that this will be something that I can talk about on my app opposed to spending more time studying for the MCAT. I feel that at the point, the major thing that is holding me back would be CARs and if I were to restudy I would have to neglect other things such as my ECs as if I were to retake I would want to give it my 150% effort or else I run the risk of doing worse. Thank you! (hoping my chances at MD schools are not destroyed with this decision)
 
Feb 8, 2021
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Pretty sure that you'll be fine. Apply away. But check with admissions or MSAR or SDN whether a school has MCAT cutoff screenings
Thank you for your input! I am just scared of getting screened, I know there is a reddit post where someone called up 60+ schools asking about screens.
 

GreenDuck12

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Thank you for your input! I am just scared of getting screened, I know there is a reddit post where someone called up 60+ schools asking about screens.
Totally rational to be scared about getting screened but it is beyond your control at this point. What is in your control is applying to a broad range of programs, yes MD and DO, that is within range of your stats and ensuring your personal statement and application materials are pristine. Make sure you practice those interview skills and can answer the heavy hitting questions clearly and concisely.
 
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Totally rational to be scared about getting screened but it is beyond your control at this point. What is in your control is applying to a broad range of programs, yes MD and DO, that is within range of your stats and ensuring your personal statement and application materials are pristine. Make sure you practice those interview skills and can answer the heavy hitting questions clearly and concisely.
Are my chances at a MD school totally shot? A retake would not be the best thing to focus on at this point? Thank you again!
 

GreenDuck12

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Are my chances at a MD school totally shot? A retake would not be the best thing to focus on at this point? Thank you again!
No they aren’t shot but if your goal is to move on and start medical school applying broadly is prudent. So many factors come into MD admissions like state of residence, etc that could make an MD acceptance more or less likely. And no I don’t think a retake will add much value here. You already did what fewer than 25% of test takers in your original score range did which was increase your score by 3+ points. Shooting for a marginal increase in CARS runs the risk of decreasing your score in other areas. Even if you do improve by a point or two in CARS and your other sections remain the same, it makes the most recent score an outlier. It won’t negate the other two scores. IMO better to stick with the improvement you made and apply.
 
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No they aren’t shot but if your goal is to move on and start medical school applying broadly is prudent. So many factors come into MD admissions like state of residence, etc that could make an MD acceptance more or less likely. And no I don’t think a retake will add much value here. You already did what fewer than 25% of test takers in your original score range did which was increase your score by 3+ points. Shooting for a marginal increase in CARS runs the risk of decreasing your score in other areas. Even if you do improve by a point or two in CARS and your other sections remain the same, it makes the most recent score an outlier. It won’t negate the other two scores. IMO better to stick with the improvement you made and apply.
Ok thank you for all you input I really appreciate your input.
 
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Definitely not shot! I’m an ORM who scored a 512 with a 122 on CARS for my retake last January. Currently have 2 MD interviews and 1 acceptance for this cycle. Definitely look into service oriented schools when making your school list. They tend to be more holistic and forgiving of situations such as a lower CARS score. Just make sure the rest of your application (ECs, personal statement, LORs) is stellar when it comes time to apply!
Thank you so much for sharing! This forum has been super amazing and helpful (spent long hours and days, want to even say wasted time overthinking and thinking this subject matter thinking that CARs was going to stop me from going to medical school). In your case, you would also suggest just moving on from the MCAT and focusing on getting those ECs? Thank you so much, this really made me feel some hope back.
 
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I think at this point, your ECs are much more important. Med schools will know through your overall GPA and MCAT that you are academically qualified to handle the rigors of medical school. Now it’s the question of having a compelling narrative as to why you want to become a physician, and the way to show adcoms that you can answer “why medicine” is through your ECs. So I would definitely focus on getting that clinical experience. Adcoms want to make sure that you know what you’re getting yourself into. When it comes time to fill out your application, make sure you can weave those clinical experiences into your story of why you want to become a physician. The written portion (personal statement, activity descriptions) of your application is just as important as your academic metrics to gain interviews and ultimately acceptances to medical schools!

In my case, I applied in the 2018-2019 cycle with no success. I took a year off to retake the MCAT and beef up my clinical experience through scribing in the ER. I’m confident that despite the lower CARS score, I have been much more successful this cycle because I added a few thousand more clinical hours to my app and had a better personal statement, activity descriptions, and LORs.
Thank you so much! I really appreciate your input/thought on this! If you do not mind me asking, for your first cycle, did you know it was your MCAT that was lacking and that is how you knew that you wanted to retake it?
 
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I applied with a 508 for my first cycle, which is an acceptable score for many MD programs. However, I knew I could do better given that I did not put enough time into studying for my first exam, hence the retake. For the second exam, I was scoring around 515 on my practice full lengths, but I ended up scoring lower on the actual exam because I bombed on CARS.

At the end of the day, there isn’t a substantial difference between a 508 and 512. When I reapplied this cycle, schools had even more reason to outright reject me because of the 122 CARS on my retake. However, unlike my first application cycle, I spent hundreds of hours crafting my personal statement, secondary essays, and activity descriptions. I strongly believe these improvements are what helped me get interviews and an acceptance this time because when med schools say their admissions process is holistic, they really mean it. Thousands of applicants have a similar GPA and MCAT as you, but who are you as a person? Adcoms want to know your story, passions, personality, and motivations for pursuing medicine. The best way to convey these aspects about yourself is through your writing. If you write well, some schools will take a chance on you and look over little blemishes on your app such as a lower CARS score. Hope this helps!
Thank you, I agree with you, at this point I just want to focus on building my character and further refining the reasons as to why I want to pursue medicine so that way I can convert it to the Adcoms. It is just hard sometimes to find yourself not comparing yourself to others and feeling that you won't make it since you got x in this and y in that. But thank you for you advice/story/input as it really helped me.
 
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strugstofunc

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So I'm kind of in the same boat, but I'm still debating whether I need to retake the test. My first score was a 506 (129/122/128/127). My practice test scores for CARS were in the 124-125 range, but I definitely felt freaked out by the section on test day. I currently have a spot to retake the exam on March 26th, but have my doubts about it. I'm not improving as much as I would like on the section and I'm almost done with the UWorld CARS QBank and will restart the AAMC CARS QBanks afterwards. I just don't want to risk taking the test to get the same score or lower, and with the test coming up soon I feel uncomfortable about my current progress. Any advice? My stats are below.

sGPA = 3.7
cGPA = 3.8
Race = Asian, Filipino
Residence = CA
Undergrad = out-of-state state school
 
Feb 8, 2021
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So I'm kind of in the same boat, but I'm still debating whether I need to retake the test. My first score was a 506 (129/122/128/127). My practice test scores for CARS were in the 124-125 range, but I definitely felt freaked out by the section on test day. I currently have a spot to retake the exam on March 26th, but have my doubts about it. I'm not improving as much as I would like on the section and I'm almost done with the UWorld CARS QBank and will restart the AAMC CARS QBanks afterwards. I just don't want to risk taking the test to get the same score or lower, and with the test coming up soon I feel uncomfortable about my current progress. Any advice? My stats are below.

sGPA = 3.7
cGPA = 3.8
Race = Asian, Filipino
Residence = CA
Undergrad = out-of-state state school
Since it is going to be your second time and not a third, I would definitely take your chances with a retake as there is the chance that you can improve given that it is just your CARs and that you "freaked" during the test day. How have you been feeling about your FLs? What have you being doing for CARs? Have you been doing anything with your sciences throughout this time?
 
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