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Should I retake the MCAT?

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by kareniw, Mar 27, 2001.

  1. Hi all,

    Since the rejections started to pile up, I have decided to retake the MCAT, in order to compensate for my mediocre GPA and to show that I *do* have the academic stuff. Honestly, I felt I could have studied a lot more the first time around (probably relied more on my prep course than I should have -- though I'm not saying I just let them spoonfeed me).

    Here's how my 2001 application looked: applied in Oct., 3.4 GPA at UC Berkeley, 10V-10P-12S-Q, volunteering with kids & in a homeless clinic, clinical research, etc. Applied to 10 schools, no interviews yet, 7 rejections. (Apologies to those who read this on another thread.)

    Now some are suggesting that I shouldn't take the MCAT in case my scores actually go *down*, and this makes me nervous (i.e. "How could my scores go down?"), especially when I realize that this has happened to people before. Of course, some people's scores have gone *up* the second time as well, but are these in the minority? If you personally retook the MCAT, can you please share your experience?

    My plan is to
    1) really bust my butt for this summer's MCAT, in hopes that
    2) I will get a score high enough to
    3) compensate for my 3.4 GPA/spotty academic record and
    4) convince Adcoms that I really can handle the academic rigors of med school. I would much rather not take a post-bac program to boost my GPA... I would prefer not to be in school this next year if I can help it.

    Can you please comment on whether these premises are sound or questionable?



    [This message has been edited by kareniw (edited March 28, 2001).]
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  3. mj

    mj Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Feb 13, 2000
    personally I think you are nuts. I seriously doubt it was your MCAT score that kept you from getting interviews.

    What schools did you apply to?

  4. Dr JPH

    Dr JPH Banned Banned 10+ Year Member

    Feb 4, 2000
    A 3.4 GPA and a 32 MCAT are fairly strong numbers.

    I don't think it's your numbers that kept you out. Maybe something on your transcript they didn't like? Poor Organic Chem grade?

    Also, it could depend on the schools you applied to. Apply to schools that have averages in which your numbers fall.

    There are many great schools that have averages of 3.4/32. In fact, there are many top ranked programs where these numbers would be competitive.

    Good Luck.

    Joshua Paul Hazelton
    [email protected]
    University of the Sciences in Philadelphia (2002)
  5. Christiangirl

    Christiangirl Banned Banned

    Dec 25, 2000
    I agree. I don't think your MCAT and gpa are horrible. Plenty of people get in with similar stats. Did you only apply to top 10 schools? Did you stuff go in late? Do you know if any of your recommenders alluded to something "unappealing" about you? I would think one of these may be the cause. I honestly think you are taking a risk by retaking the MCAT. Your score is solid. I would ask to have a consultation with the deans of one or two of the med schools you applied to and ask what you could do to improve your application. I haven't done this, because I know it is my MCAT and I will be retaking it. Others have said they have and had favorable responses at many schools. Good luck.
  6. Karen,

    You are suffering from California pre-med syndrome. Unfortunately, being from CA and having a 3.4 and 32 MCAT is no guarantee of medical school acceptance. I've known several CA pre-meds with higher MCAT scores (first try) and higher GPAs who did not get in.

    If you only applied to ten schools, this is probably not enough. I assume that 8/10 schools were CA schools. Your chances are not great in CA with those numbers. Since you only applied to two schools outside of CA, this was part of the problem. These are the CA-friendly schools that I know of:

    1. Einstein in NY. I know of many UC students who wound up going there.
    2. NYMC in NY. During the residency interview trail, one of the MS IVs told me that 50% of her class is from CA.
    3. GWU
    4. Tufts
    5. Albany
    6. Chicago Med

    I'm sure there are more that are CA-friendly, but these schools are the ones that many of my friends wound up getting accepted into. Good luck.
  7. FourthTime

    FourthTime Member 10+ Year Member

    Sep 2, 2000
    Karen: I would not take the MCAT again. GPA is on the low side of acceptable in my opinion. There are three things I saw in your original post that I would change:

    1. Apply early!!! Why did you wait until October until applying? By that time, they probably have sent out a majority of interview invites. Applying as early as you are allowed.
    2. More schools. Especially if most of the ten were in CA. As you probably already know, CA schools are hard even for residents to get into. Look at stats at schools outside of CA. I would double the number next time.
    3. Experience. Schools will look to see what reapplicants have been doing in the year(s) between graduating and going back to school. Do something you like that also supports one of the qualities of being a doctor (leadership, clinical experience, research, altruism, etc.) I had three years off, and during my interviews, all we discussed was what I had been doing during that time. Good luck-from a fellow reapplicant.
  8. Thanks for the replies everyone. I understand the concerns for my scores going down -- I am trying to find stats on how people generally do when retaking the MCAT. But I honestly think I can do better. I put in well under 100% of my effort the first time (and please don't take that the wrong way), and moreover, I just want to take every opportunity to improve my application while I still can.

    If anyone wants to raise serious objections though, please do! Why would my scores go down if I plan to work even harder? Is the test going to be that much harder?

    FYI: Yes, as many of you guessed, I applied to 6 CA schools (5 UCs + USC, which I still haven't heard from). The others were Boston, U Chicago, Pittsburgh, and NYMC.

    I hate how this being a CA resident really works against me! Damn Californians! j/k [​IMG] But really, thank you all for the suggested list of CA-friendly schools!

  9. Firebird

    Firebird 1K Member 10+ Year Member

    Mar 15, 2001
    Say hi to Dr. Greene and all the rest of the staff at County General's ER for me.

    Ok, so I'm addicted to a television show...a television show about an emergency room.

    Is there any real harm in that?
  10. lilycat

    lilycat Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Aug 12, 2000
    I would add Tulane to the list of CA-friendly schools as well.

    Karen, I've responded on your other thread as well, but I'll chime in again here. It sounds like your MCAT score is really bothering you -- if it is going to weigh on your mind constantly and nag on you, then you will retake it, no matter what anyone (here or elsewhere) says. But, I think you might be ignoring the point of some of the other posters -- it seems like you might be focusing too much energy on the MCAT when there might be something else that was "off" with your application (in my personal opinion, the timing of it, and the small number of schools you applied to). I guess what I'm saying is don't focus too narrowly on just your MCAT score -- there might be a much easier and better fix to your situation than just the MCAT.
  11. Besyonek

    Besyonek Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Feb 13, 2000
    I'd have to agree with the general sentiment here. You are really risking a lower (yes, lower) score when you retake the MCAT. I saw stats someplace (maybe AAMC?) which showed the trends for scoring when students retook the exam. Briefly, the higher your initial score was, the less the chance that your second score would be improved. Related to this, those who blew it the first time had the greatest odds of improvement. Frankly, it wasn't your MCAT that kept you out. When I read your original post, I was struck by:

    1. How LATE you applied...October??? You should have your apps in by mid-June at the latest.

    2. You applied to far too few schools, especially considering that you're a CA resident. Consider GW, MCP, Emory, Jefferson, Tulane, U of Vt, MCW, NYMC, as well as those that other posters mentioned.

    3. Contact the schools that rejected you this past round and ASK WHY they did so. Some admissions offices will be pleased to offer advice.

    4. Re-examine your personal statement and make sure that it is top-notch; no typos, no bad grammar, avoid cliches, etc. etc. etc.

    Seriously, you have plenty of time to get into the upcoming cycle starting in mid-June. Don't waste your efforts on the MCAT; focus on improving the other elements noted above.

    Good luck.

  12. Hmmm... Points well taken.

    It sounds as though the majority are saying, don't take the MCAT because 1) I am not likely to do much better, just statistically speaking, and therefore 2) I could use that time studying instead to do other things which would improve my application more effectively.

    Thanks for your help everyone [​IMG]

    [This message has been edited by kareniw (edited March 29, 2001).]
  13. turtleboard

    turtleboard SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

    Jun 3, 1999
    New York, New York

    My premed advisor in college said that students who raise their MCAT scores, when their scores are already competitive (and, yes, 32 is competitive), only increased their chances slightly. The chances of getting a lower score are very much higher than the chance of you getting into med school with a higher score. I'd keep the scores and take some grad courses to raise your borderline GPA. A 3.4, even if from Cal, isn't all that competitive.


    Interesting, but while Cook County is affiliated with almost every med school in Illinois, its major affiliations aren't with either Pritzker or Northwestern, as touted by "ER." Pritzker helicopters are routinely featured on the show, but the EM program is affiliated with Rush. I guess people don't get such a kick out of seeing "Rush Medical College" when they'd rather see "University of Chicago Hospitals." [​IMG] Also "Carter" graduated from Northwestern Med School, but their affiliation with Cook County is "Limited" according to FREIDA. [​IMG]

    Tim Wu.
  14. Sorry I didn't see that you waited until October to apply. Well, add me into the chorus singing "that's too late".

    Young lady, I command you to submit your application to AMCAS/AACOMAS in June 2001 (or 2002 if you decide to take a year off)!

    Just working on my S&M Dom character there (from a thread in the Everybody forum).

    best of luck...
  15. Toran

    Toran Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Nov 18, 1998
    Yes Kimberli, I will help her apply in June.

    YUP! Too late. Your numbers are great. You sound really strong. Try again, with the help of a strong clinical experience and a good essay.

  16. 777

    777 Member 10+ Year Member

    Jan 9, 2000
    I thought that even if one takes the MCAT again and does worse, adcoms will only look at the highest score. Is that not true?
  17. docuw

    docuw Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Feb 6, 2001
    777: that is not true. MCAT scores are listed in the order that they were taken on the AMCAS application that is sent to the schools. ADCOMs will place the scores side by side to evaluate the applicant. More often than not, when the have to make up their magical number (the number that says interview or no) they use the most recent. When they evaluate after the interview, they look at them side by side. Obviously, improvement is looked at as being better than a decrease.
  18. 777

    777 Member 10+ Year Member

    Jan 9, 2000
    Sorry that I am going off the subject somewhat, but if I got a 28 the first time, and fear that I might score around the same the second time should i not take the MCAT again? Also consider that I have a competive GPA.
  19. amayer

    amayer New Member

    Apr 1, 2001
    Brooklyn, NY
    I have a friend who has a very good GPA and has taken then MCAT twice. First time getting about 23 and the second time about 28. This individual got into schools like Downstate and Yale. So a 28 and a good GPA should get into some school, as long as you have good clinical experience, research experience, and good recommendations. The state of residence does play a role, because I know people from like CA have a much harder time getting in even after scoring a 30 on the MCAT. But otherwise you should be ok. So I don't think that it's a good idea to take the MCAT again when your score is above 28. (Unless you are aiming for schools like Harvard.) Since the chances of going up are much lower than going down. It is a standardized test after all.
    Good Luck!
  20. docuw

    docuw Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Feb 6, 2001
    I didnt do the greatest on my MCAT, 29. I would like to have gotten at least 30 to be competitive at my top choice, Univ of Washington. I got rejected by them though, and got into my second choice. Had I not gotten into choice 2, I would be studying to retake right now. I was trying to take way too many classes and didnt devote enough time to studying when I took the MCAT, and I feel that, had I studied much harder, I could have done much better. The 29 got me the interview, but in the end, didnt get me in. I say you should buckle down and do it again. Learn from your last exam, and alter your studying to make up for the deficiencies that time.

    Of course, this is all just my personal opinion from my own experiences. Take it for what it is worth to you.

    [This message has been edited by docuw (edited April 03, 2001).]
  21. 777

    777 Member 10+ Year Member

    Jan 9, 2000
    If I get the same score the second time as I did the first (which was a 28) would that hurt my chances in any way? And amayer, unfortunately I am from CA.
  22. docuw

    docuw Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Feb 6, 2001
    It would not hurt you in any way, it just would not do you any good. They might say, "ahh, this one is consistent, I like that," or something like that. [​IMG] I think you just have to buckle down and bring the score up a little bit.
  23. Those are not bad stats. 3.4 can be a little higher but the 32 is fine. Could something else be a factor in your "rejections", possibly a bad grade on a final or midterm in org chem, bio, or chem.?

    "If we were supposed to talk more than we listen, we would have been given one ear and two mouths"
    -Mark Twain
  24. A 3.4 really isnt that competitive.
  25. Gumbydammit

    Gumbydammit Member 7+ Year Member

    Apr 9, 2001
    Salt Lake City, UT, USA
    I think Medical College of Wisconsin accepts a lot of California students as well. I have heard that the winters in Wisconsin are milder than those in California too.
  26. puffy1

    puffy1 Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Dec 5, 2000
    Your best bet is to talk to the dean of admissions at your local medical school and see if he thinks you need to retake the MCAT. He'll probably chime in with "that score won't keep you out of medical school" and that is basically correct.

    A school that you would have had an AWESOME chance at was Tulane U. They take, on average, close to 20+ Californians per year, and probably accept close to 50+. In the past, half of any given incoming class at Tulane were from Cali, but that changed when Pisano took he makes arrangements to accept at least 30+ Louisianians, 20+ Californians, and 7 from Utah each year.
  27. Jacky

    Jacky Member 10+ Year Member

    Oct 24, 2000
    Denver, Colorado, USA
    Karen, stop and think for a moment. Do you really believe that your mcat score is in need of retaking? (No, you don't!!) Once again, another shallow twit looking for validation. Lets all pamper her ego and tell her, "Karen, you have a competitive mcat score, don't retake it!" Countless students would kill for your score, and you damn well know it. Your message offends me and the many thousands of other applicants trying to meet the national average accepted score (29!!!) of US allopathic institutions. Get some perspective!!

    [This message has been edited by Jacky (edited April 23, 2001).]
  28. Dave2K

    Dave2K Member 10+ Year Member

    Jul 30, 2000
    State of Confusion
    Wow, it sounds like Jacky has some hostility issues to work out!
    Karen- Retake the MCAT as a last resort. Apply to a much larger number of schools next time (shoot for 20 if you can scrape together the fees) and your chances of getting in improve greatly. Like others have said, get your app in ASAP.
  29. EMDrMoe

    EMDrMoe Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Mar 15, 2001
    Tampa has stats on the scores of MCAT retakers. If you can't find it initially, do a search of the public site. If you have problems, let me know if you have problems finding it... [email protected]
  30. jlinn01

    jlinn01 Junior Member 10+ Year Member

    Apr 30, 2000
    Milwaukee, WI

    Despite what JThomas says, 3.4 and 32 is pretty competitive. Don't sweat it.

    I would strongly agree with whoever recommended applying to medical college of wisconsin. when i interviewed there, the group of 50 had at least 15 californians in it, and every year there is a group of about 30 or 40 who end up matriculating. So try that next time around, maybe add georgetown too.
  31. Azygous

    Azygous Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Apr 21, 2001
    Philly, PA
    California syndrome is sooo true. 33% of my medical class is from California. It's really impossible I hear to get into med schools in CA because there are far fewer med schools than the "interest" in medical school. I remember during my orientation walking around and asking people where they were all from. Every other person said CA. I thought I was just cool and had met all the people from CA. Then at the end of orientation the admissions said that 30-33% were from CA. The funniest thing is seeing all your Californians react to the first snow fall of the year =)!!! "OH...SNOW SNOW!!!"

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