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Retaking 516 MCAT in August

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wertyuiop

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Hey all, I'm a Canadian undergrad in biochemistry planning on applying to American MD schools as a backup and I was looking for a bit of advice.

My cGPA is 3.82 with an sGPA of 3.8.
My MCAT is 131/127/130/128 (PS/CARS/BS/PSYCH)

I signed up for an MCAT rewrite this August in order to maximize my chances in Canada since Canadian schools generally place a lot of importance on the CARS score. However, my American application may be delayed because my MCAT is so late in August.

I really don't mind applying to mid- and low-tier American schools with my current MCAT, but would schools wait to see my new MCAT before offering interviews, and would this delay or cast a red-flag on my application? Also, would I be competitive for mid-tier med schools with my current GPA and MCAT?
 

Okazaki Frag Grenade

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3.8/516 is an excellent combo for US schools. I know that they are more stringent on Canadian applicants, but you should still be in a great position. But I also know that Canada expects super high CARS scores, so I'd maybe try to figure out if you're okay with focusing on US schools. Because you would not need to retake if you're shooting for schools down here.

paging @bearintraining for additional input
 

The Knife & Gun Club

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You run the risk of your score going down, which would be bad...
 
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JustAPhD

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3.8/516 is an excellent combo for US schools. I know that they are more stringent on Canadian applicants, but you should still be in a great position. But I also know that Canada expects super high CARS scores, so I'd maybe try to figure out if you're okay with focusing on US schools. Because you would not need to retake if you're shooting for schools down here.

paging @bearintraining for additional input


Pretty sure he's still hibernating from the winter, check back next week.


I would think through this decision before you retake. If my conversion table isn't failing me a 127 is a 10 on the old scale, which shouldn't raise concerns for US MD schools. Now, if you really want to stay in Canada that may be a different story, but definitely think this through. A 127 is not a bad score by any means, and you're not guaranteed to do any better the next time. If you do worse you're not only in a worse spot for CAN schools but now also US MD schools.
 

gonnif

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I really don't mind applying to mid- and low-tier American schools with my current MCAT, but would schools wait to see my new MCAT before offering interviews, and would this delay or cast a red-flag on my application? Also, would I be competitive for mid-tier med schools with my current GPA and MCAT?

A few thoughts

1) AAMC recommendation (not a rule though) is to wait until all score are in before reviewing an application. However, no schools is obligated to do so.
2) Having to wait for an August MCAT, with a September score release, as an International Student, puts you at a severe disadvantage.
3) Old Proverb reads Better is the worst enemy of Good
4) I always advise students to never apply without knowing all your MCAT scores. What if you apply with your current strong score, but a school waits until the new one and you just bombed it due to an unforseen illness, bad night sleeping, car break down, etc?
 
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bearintraining

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Hey all, I'm a Canadian undergrad in biochemistry planning on applying to American MD schools as a backup and I was looking for a bit of advice.

My cGPA is 3.82 with an sGPA of 3.8.
My MCAT is 131/127/130/128 (PS/CARS/BS/PSYCH)

I signed up for an MCAT rewrite this August in order to maximize my chances in Canada since Canadian schools generally place a lot of importance on the CARS score. However, my American application may be delayed because my MCAT is so late in August.

I really don't mind applying to mid- and low-tier American schools with my current MCAT, but would schools wait to see my new MCAT before offering interviews, and would this delay or cast a red-flag on my application? Also, would I be competitive for mid-tier med schools with my current GPA and MCAT?

First off, if you write an August rewrite and you indicate on AMCAS that you're doing so, schools will probably wait for your score before considering you. By waiting to be considered until end of September is going to put you way in the back of the queue of being considered for an interview and I think you're probably unlikely to get any invites until the new year. A later invite will make it harder to get accepted unless you're a great interviewee.

You are in a very good position for American schools, assuming you have some nice and hopefully unique ECs to support the application. Make sure you have experience that count as clinical and as working with patients. This is fairly critical in the US. shadowing helps but does not replace that requirement.

What is your province of residence? I would likely avoid all CARS heavy Canadian schools unless perhaps you're in province. E.g. McMaster and Calgary. Even then I wouldn't call it a good chance. Fortunately for you there are several schools that really only use the MCAT as cutoffs, e.g. UBC and Toronto, or where your total score will be important, e.g. Alberta. Lastly, also remember that Dalhousie has a much earlier application deadline than others, in case you're interested.

My suggestion would likely be to hold off on the rewrite and give this year a shot. I know you might feel this is a risk because you're unhappy with the CARS score, but in the US you're more likely to get in if they can review your file earlier.

3.8/516 is an excellent combo for US schools. I know that they are more stringent on Canadian applicants, but you should still be in a great position. But I also know that Canada expects super high CARS scores, so I'd maybe try to figure out if you're okay with focusing on US schools. Because you would not need to retake if you're shooting for schools down here.

paging @bearintraining for additional input

Thanks for the ping okazaki

You run the risk of your score going down, which would be bad...

I totally agree. This is a tough situation but I'm also concerned you might score lower.
 

heebeejeebies

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For what it's worth I received >4 Canadian II's with a 10 on verbal. But this was in the 2nd year of my MSc with a lot involvement in high impact research, after putting in a lot of mileage in volunteering I enjoyed + shadowing, and a fairly high GPA. In the end it's a lottery, and rewriting with success only buys you 2-3 more tickets to the show.

2 years ago with the same MCAT resulted in 0 interviews.

I'd make sure you're confidently scoring between 514 and 518 on practice tests with a consistent CARS at or over 129 before rewriting.
 

wertyuiop

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Thanks for the reply everyone! I was planning on rewriting late August and studying all of this summer to get a higher score, which I definitely think I can (with CARS at least). Honestly, I don't want to score less than a 516, but it's likely that if I rewrite I might score around that range with an increase in CARS but a decrease in the sciences.

1) AAMC recommendation (not a rule though) is to wait until all score are in before reviewing an application. However, no schools is obligated to do so.
2) Having to wait for an August MCAT, with a September score release, as an International Student, puts you at a severe disadvantage.
3) Old Proverb reads Better is the worst enemy of Good
4) I always advise students to never apply without knowing all your MCAT scores. What if you apply with your current strong score, but a school waits until the new one and you just bombed it due to an unforseen illness, bad night sleeping, car break down, etc?

Sometimes it feels like Canadian schools ARE looking for perfection as it's so competitive here, and the amount of emphasis they place on CARS is ridiculous. However, these points are all very valid and make sense.

You are in a very good position for American schools, assuming you have some nice and hopefully unique ECs to support the application. Make sure you have experience that count as clinical and as working with patients. This is fairly critical in the US. shadowing helps but does not replace that requirement.

What is your province of residence? I would likely avoid all CARS heavy Canadian schools unless perhaps you're in province. E.g. McMaster and Calgary. Even then I wouldn't call it a good chance. Fortunately for you there are several schools that really only use the MCAT as cutoffs, e.g. UBC and Toronto, or where your total score will be important, e.g. Alberta. Lastly, also remember that Dalhousie has a much earlier application deadline than others, in case you're interested.

Honestly, I'm not sure what's "enough" in terms of patient interaction and time commitment, but I definitely think I have some interesting things to talk about in an interview. I've volunteered as a receptionist (and then later got a paid position) at a clinic here, so I've had some patient interaction through this. I've also volunteered at the local hospital in day surgery working with patients and nurses.

I live in Ontario and I'll definitely be applying to Ontario schools, but none of them give preference to IP applicants. I really would prefer staying close to home with the parents since they're not in the best of health, but med school's been my dream and I really want to have my options open in case Canada doesn't work out. Thank you for the tips, I'll definitely be applying everywhere in Canada and the States to maximize my chances this cycle.

For what it's worth I received >4 Canadian II's with a 10 on verbal. But this was in the 2nd year of my MSc with a lot involvement in high impact research, after putting in a lot of mileage in volunteering I enjoyed + shadowing, and a fairly high GPA. In the end it's a lottery, and rewriting with success only buys you 2-3 more tickets to the show.

2 years ago with the same MCAT resulted in 0 interviews.

Sometimes Canada feels like a big stats game since everyone seems to be applying with a 3.9+ GPA and 11+ VR, but this gives me a bit of hope. I haven't had much experience in research, but I'll be working in a lab in a full-time position starting from July to prepare for my thesis, so we'll see where that leads. I guess what's causing me the most stress is that I always admired and wanted to be the kind of person that got right into med school after 4th year, went to a med school close to home, and ended up having my own practice by the age of 28-30. But I just learned that people, on average, apply 3 times before being accepted to a Canadian medical school, which came as a pretty big shock.

I guess I'll think about this some more. For now I'm leaning towards not rewriting the MCAT, applying this cycle, and and seeing how applications go. If things don't work out I might take an extra year or two to rewrite the MCAT/pursue a position in research and do other things that I enjoy that could build up my resume. Again, thanks for the input everyone. :)
 

GrapesofRath

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We will not interview someone whose judgement is so bad that they re-take an unexpired 36 MCAT.

If your response is "516 is a 35 not a 36" you're missing the point.
If your response is "Many schools wont automatically outright reject someone for this" you're again missing the point.

Rather focus on what an evaluator who has to go from a stack of 10,000 applications to 500 will glean from the decision making of someone retaking a 95th+ percentile acore over a standard deviation above US MD matriculannts

At some point you have to balance Canadian schools and their desire for screening out <128 CARs type scores with what's in your overall best interest. Perhaps if it really comes down to it you might have to make a decision one way or another to some extent which schools do you want to focus on: the US schools as an international or the Canadian ones where your CARs score might be problematic? Retaking a 127 in no way guarantees youll do better on a retake(CARs is historically the hardest section to improve) on top of all this which is another problem with retaking a score like this, for either US or Canadian schools.
 
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Goro

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A retake of score like yours will suggest that you have judgement issues and likely be lethal to your chances.


Hey all, I'm a Canadian undergrad in biochemistry planning on applying to American MD schools as a backup and I was looking for a bit of advice.

My cGPA is 3.82 with an sGPA of 3.8.
My MCAT is 131/127/130/128 (PS/CARS/BS/PSYCH)

I signed up for an MCAT rewrite this August in order to maximize my chances in Canada since Canadian schools generally place a lot of importance on the CARS score. However, my American application may be delayed because my MCAT is so late in August.

I really don't mind applying to mid- and low-tier American schools with my current MCAT, but would schools wait to see my new MCAT before offering interviews, and would this delay or cast a red-flag on my application? Also, would I be competitive for mid-tier med schools with my current GPA and MCAT?
 
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wertyuiop

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Rather focus on what an evaluator who has to go from a stack of 10,000 applications to 500 will glean from the decision making of someone retaking a 95th+ percentile acore over a standard deviation above US MD matriculannts

A retake of score like yours will suggest that you have judgement issues and likely be lethal to your chances.

Honestly, this was one of my biggest concerns when I was planning on rewriting. I feel like rewriting a 516 would raise a red flag on my application, but I somehow legitimized it by saying that a higher CARS would give me a better chance in Canada. I also wasn't sure how competitive I would be as an international applicant with a 516, since the requirements for international students tend to be higher from what I've heard.
 

nRomaleos

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A retake of score like yours will suggest that you have judgement issues and likely be lethal to your chances.

Can't save'em all Goro.

I think OP wanted to post his/her plans on SDN hoping to be in an echoing chamber of "YEA GO RETAKE A 516". "99 PERCENTILE OR BUST"
 
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Lawpy

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A retake of score like yours will suggest that you have judgement issues and likely be lethal to your chances.
Honestly, this was one of my biggest concerns when I was planning on rewriting. I feel like rewriting a 516 would raise a red flag on my application, but I somehow legitimized it by saying that a higher CARS would give me a better chance in Canada. I also wasn't sure how competitive I would be as an international applicant with a 516, since the requirements for international students tend to be higher from what I've heard.

I'm always curious about Canadian MCAT Policy, but unfortunately, there aren't any Canadian med school adcoms here. Basically, would Canada be happy to have an applicant like OP who retook a 516 but scored 508 with a 132 in CARS?

Can't save'em all Goro.

I think OP wanted to post his/her plans on SDN hoping to be in an echoing chamber of "YEA GO RETAKE A 516". "99 PERCENTILE OR BUST"

The issue here lies in Canadian admissions and their policy of emphasizing only the CARS scores. OP would be fine with US schools but may be out of luck for Canada.
 
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xc_stallion92

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Nope, that's dumb, don't do it.

Edit: After reading the thread, it looks like you're doing the right thing. Good job! That's a great MCAT score and I'd be surprised if you don't get in somewhere.
 

Lawpy

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The real tragedy in all this is Canadian applicants are pretty much punished by US schools for being International (the policy should change, but that's a matter for another day), and by Canadian schools for not having a 131+ in CARS/verbal.

OP, your best bet is to NOT retake the MCAT and focus primarily on US schools this cycle. Many mid tiers would be happy to take you in, since you have good stats. MSAR will provide you more information about it.

@bearintraining advice is something you should follow closely, but I think @NotASerialKiller can also add in some input.
 
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Terror Billy

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It's hard to give concrete advice given Canada schools have such a different scale, however I'd have to believe with your numbers you stand a pretty good chance of finding at least 1 US MD school if you apply broadly
 
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wertyuiop

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Can't save'em all Goro.

I think OP wanted to post his/her plans on SDN hoping to be in an echoing chamber of "YEA GO RETAKE A 516". "99 PERCENTILE OR BUST"

Yes. You hit the nail on the head. This was DEFINITELY my intention.


I actually lol'd at "99 PERCENTILE OR BUST". :laugh:


I'm always curious about Canadian MCAT Policy, but unfortunately, there aren't any Canadian med school adcoms here. Basically, would Canada be happy to have an applicant like OP who retook a 516 but scored 508 with a 132 in CARS?

Canada actually doesn't care about how many times you rewrite. At least in the province I live in med schools only look at the most recent score. One of the schools here (McMaster) doesn't really look at any other part of the MCAT other than VR/CARS, so if anyone had a 508 with a 132 CARS they would likely be guaranteed an interview unless they had an abysmal GPA. Another med school here had a CARS cutoff of 130 this year, but it has lower GPA requirements.

Honestly, Canada as a whole isn't that bad. It's just that the province I live in has more applicants than it can accommodate, so the competition is pretty cutthroat.

But yeah, the ideal VR/CARS score for Canada is 11/129 from what I've found.
 
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bearintraining

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The other major difference in Canada is that all schools are public, which means that for most, the maximum number of OOP/OOS students is 15% of the class size, and for most students they have only 1 or 2 IP/IS schools. Therefore, most of the time your eggs are all in 1 basket unless you're a stellar applicant (i.e. GPA > 3.8 and MCAT > 34 on the old scale).
 
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bearintraining

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I'm always curious about Canadian MCAT Policy, but unfortunately, there aren't any Canadian med school adcoms here. Basically, would Canada be happy to have an applicant like OP who retook a 516 but scored 508 with a 132 in CARS?



The issue here lies in Canadian admissions and their policy of emphasizing only the CARS scores. OP would be fine with US schools but may be out of luck for Canada.

The short answer is at several schools, yes, but at some No.
Every school is different and your MCAT needs to be tailored to them, unless you scored well throughout. A number of schools have minimum "cut-offs" and do not really consider your actual score much beyond that. Several have a CARS/VR focus where that is a huge portion of your application score (and they're very upfront about it). A few will consider your overall score and it is a big chunk of your application score.
 
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heebeejeebies

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I don't think people realize how evil life as a premed in Ontario is (especially for non-rural, non-SWOMEN, non-Francophone residents)... I'd say it's just as bad, if not worse, than being in California. I received 2x as many out of province interviews as in Ontario interviews.
 

heebeejeebies

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Sometimes Canada feels like a big stats game since everyone seems to be applying with a 3.9+ GPA and 11+ VR, but this gives me a bit of hope. I haven't had much experience in research, but I'll be working in a lab in a full-time position starting from July to prepare for my thesis, so we'll see where that leads. I guess what's causing me the most stress is that I always admired and wanted to be the kind of person that got right into med school after 4th year, went to a med school close to home, and ended up having my own practice by the age of 28-30. But I just learned that people, on average, apply 3 times before being accepted to a Canadian medical school, which came as a pretty big shock.

Believe me, I know. I have friends I met in 1st year who got into three-year med programs after 3rd year and just matched to competitive residencies... and I'm going to be an M1 come August (albeit at a program that was a pipe dream 2 years ago). The last 2 years definitely grew some hair on my chest, that I can say.
 
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championcc

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Worth noting that MCAT retakes are not generally penalized in Canada. OP needs to think long and hard about what schools would really open up with a 129 in CARS.

Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk
 

NotASerialKiller

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For what it's worth I scored a 10 on VR and didn't feel that it closed any doors. I got an interview at McMaster, and although I may have compensated with a strong CASPer and GPA, if they're one of the schools that you'd be rewriting to increase your chances at I wouldn't assume that a 127 would keep you out of the running.

Is your wGPA going to be higher than a 3.82 at some Ontario schools? That's a much bigger issue for your Canadian cycle. Ottawa doesn't look at the MCAT, but also doesn't look at anyone under 3.85, for example. If you're serious about applying in the US especially, then I probably would not rewrite. You already have a strong score for US schools, and it should not be prohibitive in Canada, except for Western's crazy cutoffs. Also even if you decide that you definitely want to stay in Canada, trying to increase your GPA would be much more beneficial than another point or two in CARS, in my opinion. After all, even if you do increase your CARS score, you might end up treading water if you go down at all in other sections. Increased odds at Mac/Calgary, decreased odds elsewhere. I personally wouldn't risk it, but it's a tough call.
 

Holmwood

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I don't think people realize how evil life as a premed in Ontario is (especially for non-rural, non-SWOMEN, non-Francophone residents)... I'd say it's just as bad, if not worse, than being in California. I received 2x as many out of province interviews as in Ontario interviews.
I will humbly agree.
 

wertyuiop

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For what it's worth I scored a 10 on VR and didn't feel that it closed any doors. I got an interview at McMaster, and although I may have compensated with a strong CASPer and GPA, if they're one of the schools that you'd be rewriting to increase your chances at I wouldn't assume that a 127 would keep you out of the running.

Is your wGPA going to be higher than a 3.82 at some Ontario schools? That's a much bigger issue for your Canadian cycle. Ottawa doesn't look at the MCAT, but also doesn't look at anyone under 3.85, for example. If you're serious about applying in the US especially, then I probably would not rewrite. You already have a strong score for US schools, and it should not be prohibitive in Canada, except for Western's crazy cutoffs. Also even if you decide that you definitely want to stay in Canada, trying to increase your GPA would be much more beneficial than another point or two in CARS, in my opinion. After all, even if you do increase your CARS score, you might end up treading water if you go down at all in other sections. Increased odds at Mac/Calgary, decreased odds elsewhere. I personally wouldn't risk it, but it's a tough call.

A 127 is actually slightly lower than a 10. A 127 is at an 81 percentile whereas a 10 is an 84 percentile, but I honestly don't know how significant this is, if at all. I also know someone with a 127 who scored an interview at Mac, but their GPA was a high 3.9 (I think it was 3.97). So I'm sure that it's possible to score an interview with a 127, but there needs to be something redeemable about the application, whether it's a high GPA or a great CASPer. My cGPA for Mac is also around a 3.82, so the GPAs not helping, and I'm not really sure how CASPer is marked.

Thanks for the input, I'll just spend this application cycle applying everywhere in Canada and to some places in the States and see where that leads me. If I don't go to the States, I might just end up taking a 5th year of undergrad to improve my cGPA to ~3.85 and there should be more data out on the MCAT acceptance rates for Canadian schools by this September. Queen's and Ottawa's weighting should help me more with a 5th year as well.
 
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