Not sure what to do - Adviser telling me I should retake MCAT?

8

854555

My MCAT scores are:

Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems: 129

Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills: 126

Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems: 129

Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior: 131

Composite: 515

My adviser said that even though a 515 is decent, the fact that my highest score is the psychology and sociology section makes it weaker (my adviser claims that med schools don't put too much weight on this section).

But personally I think my scores are fine. But I am a bit worried that my CARS score might be a bit too low.
 
About the Ads

LizzyM

the evil queen of numbers
10+ Year Member
Mar 7, 2005
23,371
33,989
Status
Academic Administration
Every score is > 125 and one is >129 so that puts you, IMHO, in the second tier of students. More frequently I see all scores >125 and 3 of the >129. The top 20 will be a stretch but the schools a bit further down the list will welcome applicants with an MCAT score like that.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: gyngyn
Jul 23, 2017
220
217
Status
Pre-Medical
I'm in the same boat. I got interviews if that's any consolation.

Remember that you might study really hard to raise your exam score 2 points, catch a cold the night before, and arrive at your exam drunk on DayQuil. Not everything about the exam or test day is under your control. Retaking with a decent score is going to carry some risk.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 700825 and Goro

Goro

Gold Donor
7+ Year Member
Jun 10, 2010
54,314
80,602
Somewhere west of St. Louis
Status
Non-Student
My MCAT scores are:

Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems: 129

Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills: 126

Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems: 129

Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior: 131

Composite: 515

My adviser said that even though a 515 is decent, the fact that my highest score is the psychology and sociology section makes it weaker (my adviser claims that med schools don't put too much weight on this section).

But personally I think my scores are fine. But I am a bit worried that my CARS score might be a bit too low.
Data point #4456336787977 that most premed advisors are absolute morons.

Your 515 is great, do NOT retake, unless you want me to reach through the electrons and smack you upside the head! !!
 

jtd2081

2+ Year Member
Dec 30, 2015
177
91
Status
Medical Student
That is revolting they told you to retake. Unless you told the advisor you explicitly wanted a top 20 or so then I can understand their advice, otherwise I side with Goro. Moron.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Goro

MareNostrummm

D.O. Class of 2022
2+ Year Member
Oct 17, 2015
1,437
1,544
Status
Medical Student (Accepted)
Every score is > 125 and one is >129 so that puts you, IMHO, in the second tier of students. More frequently I see all scores >125 and 3 of the >129. The top 20 will be a stretch but the schools a bit further down the list will welcome applicants with an MCAT score like that.
What if his CARS was 124, but his composite was still 515?
 
About the Ads

LizzyM

the evil queen of numbers
10+ Year Member
Mar 7, 2005
23,371
33,989
Status
Academic Administration
What if his CARS was 124, but his composite was still 515?
That would be a concern but keep in mind I only see the top 5% of the applicant pool.
 

Lucca

Will Walk Rope for Sandwich
Staff member
Administrator
5+ Year Member
Oct 22, 2013
8,236
17,952
City of the Future
Status
Medical Student
That would be a concern but keep in mind I only see the top 5% of the applicant pool.
I'm skeptical as to whether or not all of the top schools are out of the question at 515. Duke (#7) has a median of 516. UCSF (#4) does as well. UCSD (#17) isn't far away at 517. Mayo (#20) has a median of 513. UCLA (#11) has a median below 510. Even at Harvard, a 515 is above the 25th percentile for accepted students.

However, I concur with lizzy, that the only reason to retake would be if you were gunning for a very specific subsection of the top schools like Chicago, NYU, JHU, WashU, Northwestern, Stanford where the medians are 519+. If that's not you, then definitely don't retake.
 

LizzyM

the evil queen of numbers
10+ Year Member
Mar 7, 2005
23,371
33,989
Status
Academic Administration
I'm skeptical as to whether or not all of the top schools are out of the question at 515. Duke (#7) has a median of 516. UCSF (#4) does as well. UCSD (#17) isn't far away at 517. Mayo (#20) has a median of 513. UCLA (#11) has a median below 510. Even at Harvard, a 515 is above the 25th percentile for accepted students.

However, I concur with lizzy, that the only reason to retake would be if you were gunning for a very specific subsection of the top schools like Chicago, NYU, JHU, WashU, Northwestern, Stanford where the medians are 519+. If that's not you, then definitely don't retake.
It is not the 515 that is the issue; it would be a 515 where one or more sections are < 125 (i.e. below average).
 
  • Like
Reactions: Lucca

MCATISEZ

2+ Year Member
May 31, 2016
638
535
Status
Medical Student
It is not the 515 that is the issue; it would be a 515 where one or more sections are < 125 (i.e. below average).
Is a =125 CARs subsection deadly to these schools?
 

LizzyM

the evil queen of numbers
10+ Year Member
Mar 7, 2005
23,371
33,989
Status
Academic Administration
Is a =125 CARs subsection deadly to these schools?
=125 is not the same as < 125. A higher score is always better than a lower score. A below average score is very bad. Average is ok but above average is better.
What was your question?
 

Goro

Gold Donor
7+ Year Member
Jun 10, 2010
54,314
80,602
Somewhere west of St. Louis
Status
Non-Student
@LizzyM

what MCAT score would put you in the first tier of students?
Not LizzyM, but just look at the MCAT percentiles. A 516 is ~95th %ile. Median at WashU or NYU is ~520 or so, meaning 98th %ile.
 

LizzyM

the evil queen of numbers
10+ Year Member
Mar 7, 2005
23,371
33,989
Status
Academic Administration
@LizzyM

what MCAT score would put you in the first tier of students?
Three subscores > 129 and not more than one subscore between 126 and 129. Total not less than 516.
 

md-2020

The Immaculate Catch
2+ Year Member
Jun 29, 2015
2,298
3,010
Status
Medical Student
Three subscores > 129 and not more than one subscore between 126 and 129. Total not less than 516.
And yet I'll go out on a limb and say that this profile is still below the median for the top school that you're at. Surely you make a finer distinction than this when looking at MCAT scores.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Lucca
About the Ads

Govols22

2+ Year Member
Nov 30, 2015
326
395
Status
Medical Student
Three subscores > 129 and not more than one subscore between 126 and 129. Total not less than 516.
I'm assuming 129s across the board would fall into this category as well?

I'm assuming a

129/129/129/129 is just as competitive as a 130/130/126/130
 

LizzyM

the evil queen of numbers
10+ Year Member
Mar 7, 2005
23,371
33,989
Status
Academic Administration
I'm assuming 129s across the board would fall into this category as well?

I'm assuming a

129/129/129/129 is just as competitive as a 130/130/126/130
Nope. They want to see those 130s. Truly, I have not interviewed anyone with less than 3 subscores of 130 or higher.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 700825

Lawper

Cat-box cycle
Gold Donor
5+ Year Member
SDN Ambassador
Jun 17, 2014
38,981
113,087
space chat
forums.studentdoctor.net
Nope. They want to see those 130s. Truly, I have not interviewed anyone with less than 3 subscores of 130 or higher.
So I take it you're not a fan of 522 = 132/129/132/129? Or even 519 = 132/129/129/129?
 

Lucca

Will Walk Rope for Sandwich
Staff member
Administrator
5+ Year Member
Oct 22, 2013
8,236
17,952
City of the Future
Status
Medical Student
Nope. They want to see those 130s. Truly, I have not interviewed anyone with less than 3 subscores of 130 or higher.
I'd love to meet these people who think there's some magical difference between 130s and 128s/129s. Alas, my MCAT is not high enough to be graced by their presence.
 

bears1992

2+ Year Member
Jan 5, 2017
1,231
1,202
Status
Medical Student
You have to be kidding me. Your advisor is telling you to retake a 515?????? That's insane. The only way I could ever think a 515 could be retaken is if your AAMC FL scores were consistently 520+. How about we switch MCAT scores and then you can retake.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 700825

efle

not an elf
5+ Year Member
Apr 6, 2014
11,711
15,571
Status
Medical Student
I'd love to meet these people who think there's some magical difference between 130s and 128s/129s. Alas, my MCAT is not high enough to be graced by their presence.
My mind is still blown by the MD/PhD program that had a range (full range, not just 10th-90th) entirely inside the top percentile. 521-528. Insanity. Very holistic!
 
Jul 25, 2017
506
441
So I take it you're not a fan of 522 = 132/129/132/129? Or even 519 = 132/129/129/129?
This is the funniest thread I have ever read

On CARS, many of the AAMC's answers are extremely debatable, and on the bio and c/p, their "single this out and deep dive on it" dramatically impairs test/retest reliability.

That the MCAT total score is the best single metric for assessing preparation for medical school is granted. That it's infallible or even highly reliable is not.

That you all think there are meangingful differences between a 127 on a subtest and a 129 when the total score is the same is nothing short of silly
 

kbac13

2+ Year Member
Feb 23, 2016
287
402
Westeros
Status
Medical Student
It is not the 515 that is the issue; it would be a 515 where one or more sections are < 125 (i.e. below average).
Is a =125 CARs subsection deadly to these schools?
=125 is not the same as < 125. A higher score is always better than a lower score. A below average score is very bad. Average is ok but above average is better. What was your question?
It's interesting that you state this. Perhaps every Adcom is different, but with a 516 (132/124/132/128), I got 7II and was accepted to one of my top choices (Hofstra) where the median, if I'm not mistaken, is also a 516. Maybe CARS isn't looked at as heavily at some of these schools?
 
  • Like
Reactions: MareNostrummm

LizzyM

the evil queen of numbers
10+ Year Member
Mar 7, 2005
23,371
33,989
Status
Academic Administration
Absolutely every school is different and my school is a top 20. Hofstra is a very good school but not top 20. Don't shoot the messenger; I'm just reporting what I've observed since the new scoring system when into effect.
 
About the Ads

DV-T

2+ Year Member
Nov 11, 2015
1,422
2,173
Status
Medical Student
Guys, give @LizzyM a break. Each school has its own set of criteria it values in its applicants. Her school happens to set a high bar on the MCAT component of its review.
 

Goro

Gold Donor
7+ Year Member
Jun 10, 2010
54,314
80,602
Somewhere west of St. Louis
Status
Non-Student
This is the funniest thread I have ever read

On CARS, many of the AAMC's answers are extremely debatable, and on the bio and c/p, their "single this out and deep dive on it" dramatically impairs test/retest reliability.

That the MCAT total score is the best single metric for assessing preparation for medical school is granted. That it's infallible or even highly reliable is not.

That you all think there are meangingful differences between a 127 on a subtest and a 129 when the total score is the same is nothing short of silly
It's interesting that you state this. Perhaps every Adcom is different, but with a 516 (132/124/132/128), I got 7II and was accepted to one of my top choices (Hofstra) where the median, if I'm not mistaken, is also a 516. Maybe CARS isn't looked at as heavily at some of these schools?
CARS is the category that gets cut the most slack. As an example, the 10th%ile for CARS at Albany is 124. It's 126 for the other three subsections.
 

Goro

Gold Donor
7+ Year Member
Jun 10, 2010
54,314
80,602
Somewhere west of St. Louis
Status
Non-Student
Such a revelation should necessitate air quotes for future use of the word "holistic".
As an aside, "holistic review" does not have magic qualities that will forgive poor stats. What it really means is that your app won't get immediate trashed, but human eyeballs will look it over. Diamonds int he rough can be found, after all. But some stratospheric schools can afford to ignore people and take only the cream.
 
Oct 28, 2015
3,167
11,123
Status
Medical Student
Your pre-med advisor told you to retake an MCAT score that is in the 93rd percentile? Either this individual is woefully ignorant about very basic facts that they need to do their job, or derives some twisted pleasure from sabotaging pre-med students. I'm not sure which one is scarier.
 
  • Like
Reactions: mwsapphire and Goro

liquidcrawler

2+ Year Member
Nov 18, 2015
328
560
East Coast
Status
Medical Student
I always thought CARs was given the most weight, as it tests critical thinking and is the only subsection that correlates to step 1 scores. In general, is the weight of importance CARs > B/B > C/P > P/S? Or is this school specific/no trend?

I’m also curious on the admin’s thoughts on P/S section. While it is the newest section, I see some schools (like Virginia I think) have 10th and 25th percentiles at 128. It seems like they hard screen the P/S section, which is crazy in my mind because I’m unsure of why knowing Freud’s theories or social structures makes one a more capable physician.
 

VincentAdultman

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
Jun 18, 2005
1,744
2,557
38
New York
Status
Attending Physician
Times like this I'm glad I went it alone for the most part in UG and rarely consulted an advisor unless I absolutely had to.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Goro

Goro

Gold Donor
7+ Year Member
Jun 10, 2010
54,314
80,602
Somewhere west of St. Louis
Status
Non-Student
Your pre-med advisor told you to retake an MCAT score that is in the 93rd percentile? Either this individual is woefully ignorant about very basic facts that they need to do their job, or derives some twisted pleasure from sabotaging pre-med students. I'm not sure which one is scarier.
Do not attribute to malice what can be more readily explained as incompetence.
 

BombsAway

2+ Year Member
Mar 17, 2016
1,352
2,557
Status
Rehab Sci Student
As an aside, "holistic review" does not have magic qualities that will forgive poor stats. What it really means is that your app won't get immediate trashed, but human eyeballs will look it over. Diamonds int he rough can be found, after all. But some stratospheric schools can afford to ignore people and take only the cream.
I appreciate your instinct to defend your colleague, but only interviewing candidates with (3)130+?=520ish is not holistic. it is nothing more than a top down filter on excel. There are several top 20's with wide mcat ranges who are doing just fine. I have an interview with one coming up and I have a 124 bio subsection.
 

VincentAdultman

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
Jun 18, 2005
1,744
2,557
38
New York
Status
Attending Physician
I appreciate your instinct to defend your colleague, but only interviewing candidates with (3)130+?=520ish is not holistic. it is nothing more than a top down filter on excel. There are several top 20's with wide mcat ranges who are doing just fine. I have an interview with one coming up and I have a 124 bio subsection.
What? They consider the "whole applicant"....as long as that "whole applicant" has filthy MCAT scores.
 
  • Like
Reactions: BombsAway

Goro

Gold Donor
7+ Year Member
Jun 10, 2010
54,314
80,602
Somewhere west of St. Louis
Status
Non-Student
I appreciate your instinct to defend your colleague, but only interviewing candidates with (3)130+?=520ish is not holistic. it is nothing more than a top down filter on excel. There are several top 20's with wide mcat ranges who are doing just fine. I have an interview with one coming up and I have a 124 bio subsection.
I can't speak as to LizzyM's school, but not all schools engage in holistic review, and some are outright stats whores. And with a seller's market, it's hard to argue with them. I am NOT condoning this, and not making the news, just reporting it.
 

DrHart

5+ Year Member
Jan 2, 2013
1,064
1,448
Chicago
Status
Pre-Medical
I can't speak as to LizzyM's school, but not all schools engage in holistic review, and some are outright stats whores. And with a seller's market, it's hard to argue with them. I am NOT condoning this, and not making the news, just reporting it.
FAKE news. Totally a lie. I have the MOST holistic application. No one has a more holistic application than me. And I went to an Ivy League school.
 

Walter Raleigh

Membership Revoked
Removed
2+ Year Member
Sep 20, 2015
1,458
627
Status
Pre-Medical
So I take it you're not a fan of 522 = 132/129/132/129? Or even 519 = 132/129/129/129?[/QU
Nope. They want to see those 130s. Truly, I have not interviewed anyone with less than 3 subscores of 130 or higher.
I wonder how someone would fare with a 522 (132/132/129/129), two tours in Iraq as a Navy SEAL combat medic, and a second-author paper in Nature at LizzyM's school; it may be that people fitting that bill are very rare or have very good MCATs.
 

efle

not an elf
5+ Year Member
Apr 6, 2014
11,711
15,571
Status
Medical Student
I wonder how someone would fare with a 522 (132/132/129/129), two tours in Iraq as a Navy SEAL combat medic, and a second-author paper in Nature at LizzyM's school; it may be that people fitting that bill are very rare or have very good MCATs.
This kind of person will still get an interview. These are general trends she's describing, not a hard screen. There is no school in the country that has zero students below 516
 

BombsAway

2+ Year Member
Mar 17, 2016
1,352
2,557
Status
Rehab Sci Student
This kind of person will still get an interview. These are general trends she's describing, not a hard screen. There is no school in the country that has zero students below 516
false. auto reject. LizzyM has never interviewed an applicant with less than 3 130's. Her school actually sends them a tertiary application fee for wasting their time. Because here at NYU, Northwestern, WashU, or wherever: "we're better than you, and we know it" (movie quote, for the clueless amongst us).
 

BombsAway

2+ Year Member
Mar 17, 2016
1,352
2,557
Status
Rehab Sci Student
I can't speak as to LizzyM's school, but not all schools engage in holistic review, and some are outright stats whores. And with a seller's market, it's hard to argue with them. I am NOT condoning this, and not making the news, just reporting it.
It's hard to argue with them? Are you sure? You love arguing.
 

efle

not an elf
5+ Year Member
Apr 6, 2014
11,711
15,571
Status
Medical Student
false. auto reject. LizzyM has never interviewed an applicant with less than 3 130's. Her school actually sends them a tertiary application fee for wasting their time. Because here at NYU, Northwestern, WashU, or wherever: "we're better than you, and we know it" (movie quote, for the clueless amongst us).
I'd actually believe the bolded. There are a handful of places where 516 is the 10th percentile, so it wouldn't be that rare to interview a bunch of people and have all of them above that. Also some schools I think control for how scores might influence an open-file interview, and so a given interviewer only sees people with a certain level of stats?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Goro

BombsAway

2+ Year Member
Mar 17, 2016
1,352
2,557
Status
Rehab Sci Student
I'd actually believe the bolded. There are a handful of places where 516 is the 10th percentile, so it wouldn't be that rare to interview a bunch of people and have all of them above that. Also some schools I think control for how scores might influence an open-file interview, and so a given interviewer only sees people with a certain level of stats?
yeah, she literally said that in this thread
 
About the Ads