Significantly underperformed on the real MCAT compared to practice

primary71

2+ Year Member
Aug 11, 2016
40
22
Status
Pre-Medical
I've prepped for 3 months. I took 7 TPR full lengths, normally scoring around 509, initially began with 506 and made my way up to scoring 512, 513 on a couple of TPRs close my exam date. Two weeks before my real MCAT, I took the AAMC Unscored and got 86%/85%/88%/86% (raw % correct). A few days before my exam, I took the AAMC Scored and got a 518: 129/129/130/130. For all my practice exams, I simulated exam-like settings, went to a quiet computer lab, and took all my exams in one sitting, only using the breaks when I'm supposed to get them.

Took the MCAT for the first time a month ago and got really bad test anxiety and got almost no sleep at all the night before the test.. I even knew I performed badly but didn't void my exam because of all the effort and time I had put into preparing for that moment. Just got back my score a couple of days ago, and it's significantly lower than my practice, go figure. :( 509: 129/124/129/127. I'm just really disappointed since I've been consistently scoring high on practice tests and ended up messing up on the real thing.

I am going to retake it; I know I could have done significantly better if I had just slept more.. There's approx. a month left until the very last exam available of this summer (9/10). I haven't done any studying for a month now since my last attempt, but still most of the materials should be relatively fresh in my mind. However, my grandma unexpectedly passed away very recently, and I'm going through such difficult times and can't even function these days.. I don't know what to do. Should I retake it in a few weeks or wait till the winter? I'm just so devastated about everything.. *sigh*

Any comments/advice would be appreciated; thanks guys
 
Dec 15, 2015
352
144
Status
Pre-Medical
I've prepped for 3 months. I took 7 TPR full lengths, normally scoring around 509, initially began with 506 and made my way up to scoring 512, 513 on a couple of TPRs close my exam date. Two weeks before my real MCAT, I took the AAMC Unscored and got 86%/85%/88%/86% (raw % correct). A few days before my exam, I took the AAMC Scored and got a 518: 129/129/130/130. For all my practice exams, I simulated exam-like settings, went to a quiet computer lab, and took all my exams in one sitting, only using the breaks when I'm supposed to get them.

Took the MCAT for the first time a month ago and got really bad test anxiety and got almost no sleep at all the night before the test.. I even knew I performed badly but didn't void my exam because of all the effort and time I had put into preparing for that moment. Just got back my score a couple of days ago, and it's significantly lower than my practice, go figure. :( 509: 129/124/129/127. I'm just really disappointed since I've been consistently scoring high on practice tests and ended up messing up on the real thing.

I am going to retake it; I know I could have done significantly better if I had just slept more.. There's approx. a month left until the very last exam available of this summer (9/10). I haven't done any studying for a month now since my last attempt, but still most of the materials should be relatively fresh in my mind. However, my grandma unexpectedly passed away very recently, and I'm going through such difficult times and can't even function these days.. I don't know what to do. Should I retake it in a few weeks or wait till the winter? I'm just so devastated about everything.. *sigh*

Any comments/advice would be appreciated; thanks guys
You need to decide in the next day or 2 what you want to do. Personally a 124 looks like an 8 so you still have a respectable score. 12/8/12 for the first 3 sections. Your score translates to a 31 but I can totally relate if you want to retake. Just realize it will be hard but if you think you don't really need to do a content review again I think you can get about a 513+ in a solid month of practice. Just how bad do you want it.

For some hope for you:

May 20th MCAT: 509/129/125/128/127
July 9th MCAT: 514/130/127/129/128

It can be done. PM me if you want some help for a retake this cycle but I really think you can score higher in 25-30 days and I think you can still apply and get in with your 509
 
Jul 23, 2016
25
86
Status
Medical Student (Accepted)
A 509 is a pretty solid score. I'm not sure I would recommend retaking it. I've seen posts on here from adcoms saying that retaking a good MCAT score is seen as a red flag. (However, I'm not an adcom, so I can't speak to this with 100% certainty.)

If you were to retake it (which I'm not recommending), you would have to show significant improvement. Even then, I believe a lot of schools end up averaging multiple MCAT scores. Also, your test anxiety is a problem that would need to be fixed before retaking the exam. Most people normally score within a couple of points of their scored AAMC practice test. The fact that you fell short on the actual exam by 9 points is alarming.

Are you applying this cycle? If so, have you already sent in your AMCAS? I'm not exactly sure how this works. However, if schools already have your AMCAS, they might not even see your retake before making a decision. If they do wait for your retake, you are going to be late. Either way, I don't see the advantage of retaking a 509.
 
  • Like
Reactions: dontforgetxx
Dec 15, 2015
352
144
Status
Pre-Medical
A 509 is a pretty solid score. I'm not sure I would recommend retaking it. I've seen posts on here from adcoms saying that retaking a good MCAT score is seen as a red flag. (However, I'm not an adcom, so I can't speak to this with 100% certainty.)

If you were to retake it (which I'm not recommending), you would have to show significant improvement. Even then, I believe a lot of schools end up averaging multiple MCAT scores. Also, your test anxiety is a problem that would need to be fixed before retaking the exam. Most people normally score within a couple of points of their scored AAMC practice test. The fact that you fell short on the actual exam by 9 points is alarming.

Are you applying this cycle? If so, have you already sent in your AMCAS? I'm not exactly sure how this works. However, if schools already have your AMCAS, they might not even see your retake before making a decision. If they do wait for your retake, you are going to be late. Either way, I don't see the advantage of retaking a 509.
I have been looking through the reaction threads for the July 8/9th MCAT and it seems over half of us did worse on the real exam than our scored by 3-4 points which is not typical... I retook the scored after 2 months and usually most people do 2-3 points worse on the real deal after retaking but I did 9 points worse as well and am not sure what happened. I think this past test had a very harsh scale.
 
Jul 23, 2016
25
86
Status
Medical Student (Accepted)
I have been looking through the reaction threads for the July 8/9th MCAT and it seems over half of us did worse on the real exam than our scored by 3-4 points which is not typical... I retook the scored after 2 months and usually most people do 2-3 points worse on the real deal after retaking but I did 9 points worse as well and am not sure what happened. I think this past test had a very harsh scale.
Took the MCAT for the first time a month ago and got really bad test anxiety and got almost no sleep at all the night before the test
The OP attributes their score to test anxiety, which seems like a plausible explanation considering their high practice scores.

OP, if you are going to retake it, you need to make sure that you have your test anxiety under control. I think you will arguably be under more pressure to do well on the second exam, since it is a retake. Not improving your score would certainly be seen as a red flag. Take it when you are mentally and emotionally prepared.

I am sorry for your loss.
 
  • Like
Reactions: primary71
Dec 15, 2015
352
144
Status
Pre-Medical
The OP attributes their score to test anxiety, which seems like a plausible explanation considering their high practice scores.

OP, if you are going to retake it, you need to make sure that you have your test anxiety under control. I think you will arguably be under more pressure to do well on the second exam, since it is a retake. Not improving your score would certainly be seen as a red flag. Take it when you are mentally and emotionally prepared.

I am sorry for your loss.
Yeah I can believe it, especially for CARS since the same thing happened to me. Idk why but that section is the worst on the real exam.
 
  • Like
Reactions: primary71
OP
primary71

primary71

2+ Year Member
Aug 11, 2016
40
22
Status
Pre-Medical
You need to decide in the next day or 2 what you want to do. Personally a 124 looks like an 8 so you still have a respectable score. 12/8/12 for the first 3 sections. Your score translates to a 31 but I can totally relate if you want to retake. Just realize it will be hard but if you think you don't really need to do a content review again I think you can get about a 513+ in a solid month of practice. Just how bad do you want it.

For some hope for you:

May 20th MCAT: 509/129/125/128/127
July 9th MCAT: 514/130/127/129/128

It can be done. PM me if you want some help for a retake this cycle but I really think you can score higher in 25-30 days and I think you can still apply and get in with your 509
A 509 is a pretty solid score. I'm not sure I would recommend retaking it. I've seen posts on here from adcoms saying that retaking a good MCAT score is seen as a red flag. (However, I'm not an adcom, so I can't speak to this with 100% certainty.)

If you were to retake it (which I'm not recommending), you would have to show significant improvement. Even then, I believe a lot of schools end up averaging multiple MCAT scores. Also, your test anxiety is a problem that would need to be fixed before retaking the exam. Most people normally score within a couple of points of their scored AAMC practice test. The fact that you fell short on the actual exam by 9 points is alarming.

Are you applying this cycle? If so, have you already sent in your AMCAS? I'm not exactly sure how this works. However, if schools already have your AMCAS, they might not even see your retake before making a decision. If they do wait for your retake, you are going to be late. Either way, I don't see the advantage of retaking a 509.

Thank you both for replying. I'm not applying in the current cycle so I do have some time for retakes. Yeah, I don't know why my CARS went down so much...
 

dontforgetxx

7+ Year Member
Mar 3, 2010
89
25
Status
Pre-Medical
The OP attributes their score to test anxiety, which seems like a plausible explanation considering their high practice scores.

OP, if you are going to retake it, you need to make sure that you have your test anxiety under control. I think you will arguably be under more pressure to do well on the second exam, since it is a retake. Not improving your score would certainly be seen as a red flag. Take it when you are mentally and emotionally prepared.

I am sorry for your loss.
Not relevant to this post but your avatar + username combo is awesome.
 

Ad2b

SDN Gold Donor
Gold Donor
2+ Year Member
Nov 3, 2014
2,875
2,687
Status
Pre-Medical
I think the test is just getting harder over time
I don't think the test is getting harder but perhaps, the AAMC is scaling it more rigidly?

The one on the 5th at my site was... almost... easy? Not like 10th grade easy but easy? There was not one question or passage on it that made me stroke out - a few made me think a bit more, and draw out the logic but not hard; the calcs were easy... as long as I knew the notation... thinking that given all the feedback above, the scaling looks more rigid. AAMC is not going to throw in all the new material; seriously, it's going to be a replug and chug and churn from old exams, new content and tested experimental content. I think.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Roayer
Dec 15, 2015
352
144
Status
Pre-Medical
I don't think the test is getting harder but perhaps, the AAMC is scaling it more rigidly?

The one on the 5th at my site was... almost... easy? Not like 10th grade easy but easy? There was not one question or passage on it that made me stroke out - a few made me think a bit more, and draw out the logic but not hard; the calcs were easy... as long as I knew the notation... thinking that given all the feedback above, the scaling looks more rigid. AAMC is not going to throw in all the new material; seriously, it's going to be a replug and chug and churn from old exams, new content and tested experimental content. I think.
This. I was expecting a 132 in CP and a 131 in BB because I legit think I missed less than 4 in CP and 6 tops in BB. Both sections were harder than the Scored so I expected a generous scaling, needless to say, many July9thers were disappointed. My May 20th scale was much more generous.
 

dontforgetxx

7+ Year Member
Mar 3, 2010
89
25
Status
Pre-Medical
I think the test is just getting harder over time, TBH. I did 6 points worse than my AAMC scored on the June 18th test. The real mcat felt so different than the scored test to me, which is why I don't want to retake because there's no guarantee the next test would be better. HOWEVER congrats on your improvement, super happy that it paid off for you! :D
Just out of curiosity - why do you think you performed lower on the real test than on your scored? Was it also test day anxiety?
 

rolliespring

Gin no Samurai
5+ Year Member
Jul 6, 2012
545
552
Edo
Status
Medical Student
Honestly I didn't feel especially anxious on test day, and I slept soundly for 7 hours the night before. My actual mcat just felt much much harder (and honestly like a completely different test at times) and I think that kind of took me out of my educated guessing game. I had taken 8 practice tests from Next step, EK, and AAMC so I felt pretty prepared going in and just got caught off guard early. I also think the other aamc materials played to my strengths and I got a real mcat that hit some weaknesses. Also the size of the font threw me off a bit more than it should have, and the room was really warm so my head felt kind of foggy. All of these minor things combined with it just being a really hard test contributed to me doing worse than I hoped. However, if you would have told me I got a 509 walking out of the testing center, I would have cried with relief lol.
I totally understand it. Having the MCAT feel like a totally different test than what you practiced for really can throw you off. Because of my poopy 1st MCAT score I went into my 2nd MCAT (also Jun 18) with the mindset of "All passages are gonna suck/the font is gonna look weird/the test center is gonna be freezing or soaked with lava/I'm gonna need to go #2 in the middle of CARS" etc. Because of the "low expectations" I think had a slightly better test experience (we even had like an hour delay at our test center lol) than my 1st exam.
 

dontforgetxx

7+ Year Member
Mar 3, 2010
89
25
Status
Pre-Medical
Honestly I didn't feel especially anxious on test day, and I slept soundly for 7 hours the night before. My actual mcat just felt much much harder (and honestly like a completely different test at times) and I think that kind of took me out of my educated guessing game. I had taken 8 practice tests from Next step, EK, and AAMC so I felt pretty prepared going in and just got caught off guard early. I also think the other aamc materials played to my strengths and I got a real mcat that hit some weaknesses. Also the size of the font threw me off a bit more than it should have, and the room was really warm so my head felt kind of foggy. All of these minor things combined with it just being a really hard test contributed to me doing worse than I hoped. However, if you would have told me I got a 509 walking out of the testing center, I would have cried with relief lol.
Well despite all of that you still did well so congrats! :)
 
Feb 28, 2016
79
5
Honestly I didn't feel especially anxious on test day, and I slept soundly for 7 hours the night before. My actual mcat just felt much much harder (and honestly like a completely different test at times) and I think that kind of took me out of my educated guessing game. I had taken 8 practice tests from Next step, EK, and AAMC so I felt pretty prepared going in and just got caught off guard early. I also think the other aamc materials played to my strengths and I got a real mcat that hit some weaknesses. Also the size of the font threw me off a bit more than it should have, and the room was really warm so my head felt kind of foggy. All of these minor things combined with it just being a really hard test contributed to me doing worse than I hoped. However, if you would have told me I got a 509 walking out of the testing center, I would have cried with relief lol.
The font is bigger than what the practice AAMC gives us right? I took the old exam and I remember the verbal section feeling extra long because the font was huge. I actually prefer smaller font so I need to somehow readjust to this. I wonder if there's a way to increase thr font size on thr practice aamc material.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Roayer
Dec 15, 2015
352
144
Status
Pre-Medical
The font is bigger than what the practice AAMC gives us right? I took the old exam and I remember the verbal section feeling extra long because the font was huge. I actually prefer smaller font so I need to somehow readjust to this. I wonder if there's a way to increase thr font size on thr practice aamc material.
Change your screen resolution to like 1200x800 and that will accurately simulate the test day font. Also I had a smaller screen so half my screen was black (roughly 1/4 on each side with the middle having the text and questions. It made CARS look even longer than it actually was, passages were still toward the longer end but with that font you had to scroll for every passage. Same with B/B