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Medical Should I retake a 516 mcat as a canadian applicant? Other improvement for reapplying if necessary?

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Mr.Smile12

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  • Oct 14, 2011
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      I am at a t10 undergrad and took the mcat twice already: 510 (128/123/129/130) at the end of Jan 2019 and retook for a 516 (130/128/131/127) in early april 2019. The second score was right at my FL exams before the the first exam (between 514-517 and one 520). I applied this cycle and submitted at the end of July/early august with 2-3 schools like mayo and JHU in october. My GPA is a 3.77 cGPA (most pulled down by one semester of a 3.4 with the rest being 3.8-4.0) and I majored in biology and public health. I have received one II from SLU that was on November 4th but nothing else so far except for rejections from schools that were close to my stats (BU, georgetown, case, dartmouth, and a couple more).

      Overall, I would say my EC's are pretty ok but looking back at my amcas, i definitely understated hours for some of them

      - 1000+ in an endocrinology lab, 1 5th author pub in this lab, selected for a summer fellowship program open to all citizenships with the American physiological society and awarded $4000, no posters bc i was supposed to present the week of my second mcat

      - 400 hours in another brain pathology lab and was included as 10 of ~17 authors on another pub (not included on amcas since it wasn't that significant)

      - 300+ hours of research with a professor who received an $75+ million grant for a global tuberculosis project where i traveled internationally to conduct focus groups with on intervention recipients (currently doing data work for this prof in my gap year for pay and acting as a "consultant" for future focus groups), no pubs but one poster presentation
      - 1100+ as a resident advisor for two year in university
      - 85+ hours as a group tutor for 1 year
      - 135 hrs hospital volunteering in in oncology
      - 100 hours as volunteering as a women's food shelter
      - 85+ of shadowing and community outreach in genetics and clinical genetics
      - 60 hours of shadowing in endo, peds, women's health
      - 170+ additional community service at multiple organizations through APO
      - 275+ hours designing a curriculum on 'life skills' for a partnered school in tanzania through a student organization chapter i co-founded at my university, fundraising, hosting events related to women's education on campus
      - 360 hours a research assistant in a community research center doing data entry on studies related to HIV/AIDS and drug use in low income communities
      - 60 hours a tutor for a low income student

      My PS was good i would say - not exceptional because i never had an AHA medicine moment but a gradual development of interest
      LORs: 1 biochem prof (As in both her classes, some interaction), 1 genetics prof (B+ in her class but she liked me a lot), 1 humanities prof who loved me and who i loved, 1 RA supervisor who i was very close with, 1 from the 75 million researcher mentioned above

      I have updated a lot of school i am currently still in the running for regarding my current gap year job
      - work at a t3 medical school as a research coordinator in transplantation which is a mix of clinical activities and research
      - really love my current job and the professors i have met

      Honestly im just stumped as to why i haven't received even or 2 more II's considering my friends with similar GPAs and MCATs that range from 510-517 have received upwards of 5. the only international student i know who has received a lot (mostly t10s) had a 523.
      What can i do to improve my app if i need to reapply?
      All the schools you applied to accept Canadians? I presume yes. Go ahead and list.

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      Goro

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        Just talking about US schools here:

        Your friends may have written better essays.

        You're also a Canadian, and internationals have to be superstars. You're also a 2x MCAT taker, which averages out to a 513. AMCAS advises schools to average MCAT scores because this is a better predictor of performance.

        Your PI's success has nothing to do with you.

        If anything, your app is light in clinical exposure, and service to others less fortunate than yourself. Kudos for volunteering with cancer patients, though.

        The vibe I'm getting is that your app is extremely research heavy and isn't balanced out by more of the important stuff (bolded above)

        When were you complete? Did you apply to schools that accepted more than 1-3 internationals?

        Your school list may have been top heavy.
         

        Mr.Smile12

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      • Oct 14, 2011
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          sure - pretty much applied to any school in the US that has taken 3+ intls in the past year after saving up a lot of money last year
          also applied to 7 in canada

          BU-R
          Brown
          Case- R
          Columbia
          Dartmouth -R
          duke
          emory
          GW -hold
          Georgetown -R
          harvard
          mcw
          michigan state -R
          mt sinai
          nymc
          rutgers
          stony brook
          suny upstate -hold
          thomas jeff
          tulane -hold
          umd
          usc - R
          vandy - received and completed secondary
          virginia commonwealth (did not receive a secondary)
          wayne state
          SLU (II attended)
          stanford
          pitt -R
          penn state
          ucla (no R but it seems they are done with their cycle??)
          mayo mnn - R
          jhu (was my undergrad)
          What responses did you get from the Canadian schools? I don't know if they are rolling admissions or not. Maybe they'll let you know in the spring if they aren't rolling. Then the US schools may get you late too.

          I don't know how much networking you did before applying but it would have been critical to go beyond just the MSAR. The Hopkins preprofessional is pretty good though I don't know what their experience is with Canadian programs. You should have a strong committee letter, but comments could be research heavy and solid with your community service and shadowing.

          The little issue I might have is the PS topic and flow but I don't have your personal essays. Did you make it clear why you want to stay in the US? Do you meet any students at the medical schools either "international students"? Considering class sizes, 3+ is really small, and medical schools don't like to take Canadians knowing if they are really strong for Canadian programs, they probably would go to Canada (less expensive by a lot).

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          Mr.Smile12

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        • Oct 14, 2011
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            Unfortunately, canadian med schools invite for interviews feb onwards and dont hand out acceptances until May. I actually thought my chances might be greater in the US since canada is very stats focused and the overall med admit rate is about 10% which is comparable to the international matriculant rate of 9% in the US.

            I did mention in a lot of secondaries that wanted was drawn to the highly collaborative atmosphere of Us med schools and large academic hospitals which is unique from canada. I also tried to downplay the inherently global focus of my EC’s.

            I actually was a bit worried by my committee letter since our advisors were not very helpful. In terms of networking, i wasn’t actually aware that this was something that would be beneficial. In the event that i do not get in this cycle, i will keep that in mind.

            Anyways, i guess im just wondering if an mcat bump to a 521+ score would be worth it even though it would be my third time? Or if my current job (through which i may be able to get a pub or two, and two awesome rec letters) might cover the deficits in my app? I know its hard to say, but i guess im just lost right now. Thanks for your help!
            1) MCAT: 513 isn't outstanding but capable. I still am not convinced this is the issue compared to international status. Now I can always be wrong but I find exceptions to be a function of prior networking (in general) as opposed to traditional stats-only screening.

            2) Advisors: it's hard to be an advisor even everyone is really outstanding and thinks he/she doesn't need the help or listen to them. As someone who has written evaluation letters like theirs and read many including from them, I can say that those letters often will have some value, especially at reputational medical schools that like top undergraduate feeder schools. Not covering all your bases by not nurturing relationships with advisors usually is a inferred sign about how well the applicant will heed future advice from student deans and program directors. And most reputable advisor letters will not write negative comments but will show their history of how comments correlated with acceptances. Good admissions officers further record how students from a school did and what problems often pop up to guide faculty on decision-making.

            That's why I would want to know specifics about Canadians being accepted at US schools, not just "all internationals" since you don't know if any of them are DACA status or in the process of getting permanent residency. Those prehealth advisors talk to admissions officers often about it and share information among themselves about how to help and advise international applicants. If you found their help not useful, it's likely because there isn't much to say that could be positive for you.

            3) More publications I think will have minimal impact compared to the overriding concern of your Canadian status and maybe needed clinical experience in the US.

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