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This notice is not to brag but to let people know that with good but not great stats and a retake on the MCAT, you can still do well in the process! Even fantastic stats won't distinguish you at the end -- your personality, your deeds, your LORs will.

My Numbers


  • MCAT 04/09 -- 29
  • Retook MCAT 07/09 -- 34
  • GPA -- 3.7 (Not bad but not a 4.0)
My Applications

  • Applied to 18 schools
  • Invited to interview by 13 school
  • Attended interview at 10
  • Accepted to 7
  • Waitlisted at 1
  • Rejected at 1
  • Waiting on 1
My take-aways

  • Numbers are not the only thing that matters in this process
  • If you have great ECs, LORs, or publications, those will be taken into account
  • The interview matters so stay calm and enjoy them
  • Apply broadly but be wary of people who tell you to apply to more safeties. Of the 5 schools that did not interview me, 3 were my lowest safeties -- save yourself money and apply realistically.
Good luck to everyone and please feel free to ask questions. I would be happy to answer people.
 
Jul 22, 2009
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This notice is not to brag but to let people know that with good but not great stats and a retake on the MCAT, you can still do well in the process! Even fantastic stats won't distinguish you at the end -- your personality, your deeds, your LORs will.

My Numbers

  • MCAT 04/09 -- 29
  • Retook MCAT 07/09 -- 34
  • GPA -- 3.7 (Not bad but not a 4.0)
My Applications

  • Applied to 18 schools
  • Invited to interview by 13 school
  • Attended interview at 10
  • Accepted to 7
  • Waitlisted at 1
  • Rejected at 1
  • Waiting on 1
My take-aways

  • Numbers are not the only thing that matters in this process
  • If you have great ECs, LORs, or publications, those will be taken into account
  • The interview matters so stay calm and enjoy them
  • Apply broadly but be wary of people who tell you to apply to more safeties. Of the 5 schools that did not interview me, 3 were my lowest safeties -- save yourself money and apply realistically.
Good luck to everyone and please feel free to ask questions. I would be happy to answer people.

Congrats. It looks like you had a really successful cycle. However, a 34 and 3.7 are pretty darn good numbers. To me the biggest thing to take from this is not to fret about retaking the MCAT. You went up 5 points which is huge. Again, congrats!
 

iheartmcats

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I've got a 3.45 GPA and 33 MCAT (12 PS, 11 BS, 10 VR). I have decent to strong ECs and at the least, acceptable LORs. My sGPA isn't too stellar either. My last 3 semesters (last semester junior year, and 2 sems of senior year) show upward trend. But i'm wondering if it'll be enough. Think I have any sort of shot whatsoever?
 

Geekchick921

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Great job on the retake! Congrats to you!
 
Sep 21, 2009
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To bleargh: You are very right. 3.7 and 34 are not average but I think SDN can give us a skewed sense of expectation. If you are interested in a top ten school (not to endorse rankings), you can get in with those numbers especially if you offer a unique perspective or experience. On the flip side, a 40 and a 3.9 won't guarantee anything.

To iheartmcats: I think you have a shot -- my best advice is to look through your ECs and leadership experience and attempt to differentiate yourself. My numbers did not differentiate me.... But experience, a personal story, a commitment to the community or medicine, science experience, can make a difference.
 

whoknows2012

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Absolutely not...I had a 3.63 and a 29 (10 10 9) and according to MSAR my chances specifically based on GPA/MCAT were about 50ish%. Average at least to the best of my knowledge is a 3.65 and 31...and I am a white male so my population is overrepresented in medicine and I did fine! In all seriousness though I had a huge dilemma about retaking and chose not to because my avg MCAT practice (took 7 AAMC and 10 princeton review) was around a 30, although my 5 most recent practice tests before the actual MCAT were all 30+...
 
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I had average stats (3.7/28 then 31 MCATs) and got interviews and acceptances at about 1/2 of the schools I applied to....all in state, save 1. I am also a white male...which didn't do me any favors.

I started back to school with around a 3.3 gpa, but finally knew what I wanted to do with my life. This helped me stay on track and focused.

The idea here is that even if you have humble beginnings and if you are committed to going to med school, you can/should first prove it by bolstering your gpa through truly learning/understanding the sciences. By doing this you should be able to do well on the MCATs. With these, you should get in somewhere.
 

Janieve

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While this is nice to see (as it looks like I'll be graduating with a 3.7 and I'm aiming for a 34 MCAT score), I don't think it tells the whole story of how you got in. Let me make a bulleted list of questions:

  • How many times did you have to apply?
  • What ECs did you take part in?
  • Was a bachelor's your highest degree?
  • Did you apply to schools with your first MCAT score and send in your second later?
  • What did you include in your PS?
  • Were you from a top university?
  • How many LORs did you receive?
  • Were any of them via committee?
  • Were they from all science professors?
  • Who wrote them for you?
  • What was your sGPA?
  • What did you use to 'wow' your interviewers?
  • Did you have leadership experience?
  • Did you have work experience?
  • Did you apply early?
  • Had you already graduated when you applied?
  • Did you take your MCAT during or after school?
  • Are you URM?
  • Are you Socioeconomically Disadvantaged?
  • Did you have to sleep with anyone in the adcoms? (kidding!)
  • Were any of your prereqs retaken?
  • Where did you take your prereqs?
  • Are you a nontrad?
  • Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?!
I'm sure you get the idea. What you've posted says so little about you as an applicant, and it certainly doesn't indicate to us what made them accept you. How do we know you didn't spend the last three years at an AIDS clinic in Africa, complete with research on that HIV vaccine in Thailand and a relative at every school? Just give us a better idea of what you did outside of your numbers and I think that'll be much more helpful.
 
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RogueUnicorn

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oh SDN... you bring us a nice story and we'll tear you to pieces =)
 
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cpants

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It was risky to retake. You would have had a pretty decent shot with a 29 on the MCAT.
 
Sep 21, 2009
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Hah. I am neither Asian nor male. Again, 3.7/34 are not average but they are also not so high that I could be guaranteed anything. My post is mostly to say that numbers are not everything.

To answer the questions asked previously, as I think they will clarify:

  • How many times did you have to apply? 1
  • What ECs did you take part in? Student debate, newspaper, summer research locally and internationally.
  • Was a bachelor's your highest degree? Yes
  • Did you apply to schools with your first MCAT score and send in your second later? Yes. a few of my secondaries were in before my 2nd score came in at the end of august. The school I will be attending received my secondary before my 2nd score.
  • What did you include in your PS? Can't include all here.
  • Were you from a top university? Yes
  • How many LORs did you receive? 4 or 5
  • Were any of them via committee? Committee Letter
  • Were they from all science professors? None were from science professors, actually!
  • Who wrote them for you? my current boss, my previous boss, my senior thesis adviser, the head of the org I volunteer for, and my mentor through my summer research while in college
  • What was your sGPA? 3.75 ?
  • What did you use to 'wow' your interviewers? Dont know
  • Did you have leadership experience? Yes
  • Did you have work experience? yes
  • Did you apply early? no. Not late but not early. Primary in mid-July, secondaries in between late august and late September.
  • Had you already graduated when you applied? yes
  • Did you take your MCAT during or after school? Both were after
  • Are you URM? No. White girl.
  • Are you Socioeconomically Disadvantaged? No.
  • Did you have to sleep with anyone in the adcoms? (kidding!) hah
  • Were any of your prereqs retaken? no
  • Where did you take your prereqs? Some in college. Some while working.
  • Are you a nontrad?
  • Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?!
Hope that is helpful.
 

DrSmooth

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Thanks for putting yourself out there. This is a great illustration that retaking the MCAT is at least worth considering if you score below average (which is 31 for MD acceptance). I had sort of a similar situation, from 30Q-34Q. And similar interview/acceptance results. Not sure how people can say that the MCAT score doesn't make a difference in your attractiveness as an applicant. Nothing else in your application has changed except your MCAT score, and there is a BIG difference between 75th %ile and 95th %ile. Also, I think once you are over a 33 you should consider applying to more reaches rather than more safeties. Because as someone said top 10s and Ivies or whatever other measure are at least within reach with a 34+ score, but you just don't know where your application will get traction. Anyways, nice job and thx for posting!
 
Sep 21, 2009
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I think the Lizzy M table is REALLY helpful in building out where you apply. I don't know where it is on SDN but someone will link to it, I am sure. I plugged my numbers into the chart and picked a range of schools in cities where I wanted to live with programs I was interested in. I applied to my state school (of course!), and a few state schools around my state as well. Everyone on SDN thought I should add in more safeties when I asked, so I added in two more though neither interviewed me.
 
Sep 21, 2009
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Lord.

Again, 3.7/34 are not average but they are not far off and are also not so high that I could be guaranteed anything. My post is mostly to say that numbers are not everything.
 

littlealex

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It's been a few years for me, but I think the average accepted applicant is at around a 31/3.6. So by every measure OP is above average even for the 40% of accepted med students.
 

Janieve

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Hmmm. Having had my questions answered gives me this impression of Ms. Average Stats:

1. 3.7 + 34 MCAT. Not exactly average. However, she says she graduated from a top university, which means her grades could have been inflated or deflated, depending on which one. So either she's really a 3.2 GPA in disguise or she has a relatively high GPA.

2. Performed research "locally and internationally". Wow, that's a toughie. I can hardly find local research opportunities. I can't imagine I can afford to travel abroad to do my research. I'm going to assume that's pretty standard. So I'd say our friend here has a pretty exceptional EC section already.

3. Again, Ms. Average Stats comes from a top university. Regardless of what we want to believe, a lot of adcoms DO give top university students extra points. Going off the poll in another thread of SDN schools, about 75% of us are not in the top 15 schools, and about 40% aren't even in the top 60. Ms. Average Stats gets more points to her application.

4. LORs. Here's where I'm confused: Ms. Average Stats says she got 4-5 letters and that there was one committee letter among them. However, when she lists them, we see five separate sources already. She also claims none of them were from science professors - what committee wrote the letter? I'm going to bump up the number of LORs she received, then, to between 6-8, assuming the committee letter was just one letter and that there's maybe one or two she forgot.

I understand the idea that Ms. Average Stats was trying to get out - that numbers aren't everything - but I have to point out that Ms. Average Stats would have had an exceptional application even without the improved MCAT. She has work experience, leadership experience, international research experience, comes from a top university, and a ton of LORs that were probably exceptional. We don't know anything about her PS or interviewing skills, but I'd imagine they're also pretty stellar.

Ms. Average Stats, I'm going to congratulate you. Getting into medical school is hard, and you've managed it. But just from what little I can see here, your application was hardly average. For those of us who can't afford international research or a top university, an application as strong as yours will be harder to come by.

Congrats on your exceptional application!
 
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Just as an fyi -- I saved up money for 5 years so I could go abroad first time around. Second time around, I applied for and won a fellowship. These opportunities are possible but won't ever be given to you on a place.
 

DrSmooth

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I understand the idea that Ms. Average Stats was trying to get out - that numbers aren't everything - but I have to point out that Ms. Average Stats would have had an exceptional application even without the improved MCAT. She has work experience, leadership experience, international research experience, comes from a top university, and a ton of LORs that were probably exceptional. We don't know anything about her PS or interviewing skills, but I'd imagine they're also pretty stellar.
It sounds like you are saying someone from a top school with some interesting ECs, a few too many LORs, a 3.7 GPA and a 29 (!!!) MCAT score has an "exceptional" application? Sorry, but that is simply not true. If Charcoal had applied broadly she might have gotten in somewhere, but that is a weak, or at least weaker than average, application without the 34 MCAT score. And why the condescending repetition of "Ms. Average Stats"? I think the OP just accidentally misused the word "average", let's give "Ms. Average Stats" a break.
 

Janieve

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It sounds like you are saying someone from a top school with some interesting ECs, a few too many LORs, a 3.7 GPA and a 29 (!!!) MCAT score has an "exceptional" application? Sorry, but that is simply not true. If Charcoal had applied broadly she might have gotten in somewhere, but that is a weak, or at least weaker than average, application without the 34 MCAT score. And why the condescending repetition of "Ms. Average Stats"? I think the OP just accidentally misused the word "average", let's give "Ms. Average Stats" a break.
I'm just saying that compared to all the people I know who have applied, this person's application is strong. Yes, the MCAT is low, but everything else is right up there. Local and international volunteering (and, as we've just learned, a fellowship to do so). Work experience. Leadership. Top university. Impressive sGPA along with an impressive GPA.

OP was accepted by 70% of the schools she interviewed at, which is pretty good. I'd guess the background in debate and newspaper probably helped out with her interview skills too.

I'm not saying she didn't deserve to get in - on the contrary, I'm happy for her and think if she hadn't gotten in it would've been a crime - but she's far from an average applicant. Or are all the applicants I know just grossly underqualified?
 

RogueUnicorn

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It sounds like you are saying someone from a top school with some interesting ECs, a few too many LORs, a 3.7 GPA and a 29 (!!!) MCAT score has an "exceptional" application? Sorry, but that is simply not true. If Charcoal had applied broadly she might have gotten in somewhere, but that is a weak, or at least weaker than average, application without the 34 MCAT score. And why the condescending repetition of "Ms. Average Stats"? I think the OP just accidentally misused the word "average", let's give "Ms. Average Stats" a break.
+1. a lot of vitriol here.. i'm kind of sorry i brought up the average thing to start with.
 

umd

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Any success stories for people who have taken the MCAT twice but got lower on the second retake yet still got into mid to top tier medical schools?
 

Omppu27

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Moral of the thread: don't post success stories.

Especially if they're nothing special....
 

dtc29

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Moral of the thread: don't post success stories.

Especially if they're nothing special....
lol.

congrats op!!

hopefully I'll be able to post a quasi-success story next year, too (3.4 cGPA and sGPA; 36).
 

sinombre

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Any success stories for people who have taken the MCAT twice but got lower on the second retake yet still got into mid to top tier medical schools?
Nope, only the lowest of the low tier.

This thread is three years old. Kind of a funny read though.
 

487806

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lol.

congrats op!!

hopefully I'll be able to post a quasi-success story next year, too (3.4 cGPA and sGPA; 36).
Hopefully OP will read your congrats message... being that he didn't log into SDN since June 2011...