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(relatively) Poor MCAT, any point in applying?

Discussion in 'What Are My Chances?' started by holden5, Jun 17, 2008.

  1. holden5


    Jun 17, 2008
    Hi all, new to this forum. I've been browsing around a bit and you seem like an informative, helpful bunch and I'd be very appreciative if anyone had any input on my current situation. It's a bit of a long post, but I'm going to try to go through and explain my thinking on this and the questions that I have at the end.

    Basically, I have a somewhat varied background. I went to a small liberal arts school that no one has ever heard of for my undergrad and received my bachelor's in physics, with a GPA of around 3.74 (haven't calculated my science GPA, but I think it's about the same or maybe slightly worse). I should also mention that that includes a C- for the second semester of Organic Chemistry (I received a B for the first semester). I'm hoping that will look like an outlier when compared to the rest of my grades.

    However, in August, I will be finishing an MSE in Bioengineering at an Ivy League school (and top-5ish bioengineering program). My GPA should be somewhere around 3.8 and with luck, my thesis that I will submit for this degree will also be published, although perhaps not in one of the "bigger" journals.

    What makes this difficult is that I just took the MCAT on Friday of last week. However, based on how I felt about it, and how I have felt about my other practice exams versus the scores I received, I'm pretty sure my ceiling is about a 30 and I'm much more likely to be closer to a 25. With all of that in mind, is there any point in me applying to medical schools? I went into the process thinking that I wanted to go to one of the top-tier schools, but I would be satisfied with something just a little bit below that. With my impending MCAT score, a school with an average incoming MCAT of, say, 33-35 is probably out, right? Would my background make up for a poor MCAT at a decent school (my home state school, for instance?)

    At the risk of throwing too much at you at once, there is also the possibility of retaking the MCAT. I don't want to sound arrogant, but I don't feel like fundamentally there is any reason I shouldn't be able to do better than a 30; I have scored very highly in every other standardized test (ACT, SAT, GRE) and I received A's in the relevant physics, chemistry (except o-chem), and biology courses that it covers. Of course I understand that the MCAT is much harder and I might just not be as good at it, but a 30 should still be within reach, right? At any rate, at this stage, a retake would probably mean that I would need to wait another year to apply, correct?

    So my question becomes: what should I do now? Submit my AMCAS and hope I did better than I thought on the MCAT (unlikely)? I could just wait and see what my scores are, but that would put me in the position of submitting my AMCAS in the middle of July and my supplementals in August, which as I understand it is a little late in the game. If I apply now, however, and then don't like my MCAT scores and the schools that they would limit me to, then I would have to wait til next year anyway and be considered a re-applicant, which is, again, a disadvantage if I understand everything correctly.

    One final question: if I were to go to a state school and do really well, is there any chance I could transfer to a better school? I've tried to look up information about this and haven't really found much to support or refute it. The reason I ask is that my girlfriend is starting law school soon and says that she knows lots of people who have "move up" law schools through transfers, and I don't know if that same process is available to med schools.

    Sorry for the extremely long post. Thanks very much for the help!
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2008
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  3. MilkmanAl

    MilkmanAl Al the Ass Mod Physician 7+ Year Member

    Mar 23, 2008
    Kansas City, MO
    hSDN Alumni
    I think you should go ahead and apply. Your grades are great, and you can always retake the MCAT if you pulled a 25. Honestly, the thing that concerns me the most is that C- in organic 2. If I remember correctly, all schools require a C or better in the pre-reqs. If you haven't retaken that, you should do so immediately.
  4. WinterLights


    Sep 15, 2007
    I am in a similar situation to you and I plan on applying this cycle regardless of how I actually did (predicting bad verbal score). If I do not get accepted, then I will reapply next year and take the MCAT in April. I wouldn't count on your background making up for a low MCAT. The reapplicant warning really only applies to people who have low GPA's. If you apply broadly you still may be able to get in with a low MCAT score; assuming that score is great than a 25.

    Also, it is almost impossible to transfer from one medical school to another medical school.
  5. MD2B2009


    Aug 26, 2007
    I would suggest retaking your MCAT. There is a lot of data suggesting that MCAT scores are a good indicator of a student's future USMLE scores, which are used to help select students for residencies. I took a Kaplan course and raised my MCAT from a baseline 24 to a 32. It's very helpful to have an outlined study plan and a class to keep you on track. I realize that it's somewhat expensive, but I reasoned that if it could prevent me from having to wait another full year to apply, it was worth it! And it was!
  6. holden5


    Jun 17, 2008
    er... so yeah, I feel like a jerk, but it turns out I did a little better than I was anticipating, and better overall than I did on any of my practice tests. I ended up with a 12 PS, 12 VS, and 9 BS for a 33T. Does this change things at all? Do I have a realistic shot at some of the better schools, given my credentials (and, of course, the low organic 2 grade combined with the sub-par BS score)? How much stock will the schools put into the T on the writing sample? Thanks again for all the help guys. Great forum :)
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2008
  7. Frunkey

    Frunkey Fool 5+ Year Member

    Jun 18, 2008
    I was about to say...I know people who are as qualified (on paper) as you are that have come out of their test saying it was deadly, and end up with spectacular scores. Don't sweat it, you're as good as gold.
  8. Mobius1985

    Mobius1985 7+ Year Member

    Apr 4, 2007
    But don't just aim at "top" schools. Apply broadly if you want to get in somewhere. And the "T" doesn't count for much, unfortunately. Congratulations on getting a good score relative to your expectations.
  9. JLC

    JLC 7+ Year Member

    Jun 13, 2008
    wat schools are you thinking of, also conrats on your mcat

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