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What is the difference between students who get 25 on the MCAT vs who get 35+ ?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical Allopathic [ MD ]' started by Muhammed, 05.20.14.

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  1. Muhammed

    Muhammed SDN Gold Donor Gold Donor 2+ Year Member

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    What is the difference between students who get lower than 30 on the MCAT and who get 35+? I am curious because most people buy similar books and prep materials (EK, Kaplan, TBR, TPR etc), what distinguishes successful MCAT takers vs low score achievers?

    Could it be study habits or expertise on those topics or something else?
     
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  3. PreMedOrDead

    PreMedOrDead I'm sure you'll get in... 2+ Year Member

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    Uh, considering the significant difference between a 25 and a 35, they're evidently some combination of more prepared, more knowledgeable, and more intelligent.

    Well that was the easiest question I've had to answer in quite a while.

    I'll be back later, I need to go prepare for tomorrow's thread, "Does a 45 really exist?"
     
  4. phunky

    phunky 2+ Year Member

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    Intellegence
     
  5. PreMedOrDead

    PreMedOrDead I'm sure you'll get in... 2+ Year Member

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  6. La Presse

    La Presse Due to the fact.... 2+ Year Member

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    The difference between me and you......
     
  7. PreMedOrDead

    PreMedOrDead I'm sure you'll get in... 2+ Year Member

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  8. EMDO2018

    EMDO2018 Banned Banned

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    Chinese food, I want some.
     
  9. Boolean

    Boolean

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    Diligence.
     
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  10. mrh125

    mrh125 Banned Banned Account on Hold

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    Potentially Memory, ability to do rapid recall, critically thinking which enables them to understand new scenarios without having seen, and being a pro standardized test taker (75%+ of it is the latter). Also there's definitely a sizable portion of luck involved in scoring in the 30+ range because you are given a random set of scenarios and topics on the mcat and each mcat is a totally different beast. I wouldn't say intelligence, motivation, work ethic, or prep for medical school. One person can be extremely motivated and study for 7 months 10hrs a day and get a 29 another can study for a few weeks and get 35 and get totally different score distributions on a retake. Having all the books and methods in the world doesn't mean you'll get a 30+ on test day though I will say knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each book and going through all of them will help (ex: realizing that a lot of kaplan material is really old, realizing that most VR practices don't prepare you at all aside from official AAMCs practice FLs), as well as knowing your own strengths and weaknesses. You can also know all the material in the world and get blind-sided on the mcat, as the AAMC loves putting questions that are vaguely applicable to the topics on the test just to screw people over. Also being extremely detail-oriented helps. If you're the kind of person who can memorize an entire textbook of little filler you have what it takes to do well in the biosci section where you are held accountable for the most inane little details and you can expect your score to plummet if you're the general picture kind of person.

    People with 25s used to be able to get into MD schools fine it's just with competition the scores got higher and higher. Saying the mcat assesses whether one person with a higher score than another is more prepared for medical school is dubious at best although you'll have to do a lot of detail-oriented learning in med school. Lizzym (correct me if i'm wrong) said if someone gets a 24 or above on the mcat they're prepared for med school.

    75%+ of people who take the test don't get higher than a 29 on the test, but if you do get less than one be prepared to rationalize why you aren't and be discouraged unfortunately.
     
  11. OneTwoThreeFour

    OneTwoThreeFour 2+ Year Member

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    I'd recommend going on the MCAT forum and checking out the 30+ scores thread. See if there's someone whose situation is similar to yours and kind of model your strategy after theirs.
    Just a thought!
     
  12. Espadaleader

    Espadaleader 5+ Year Member

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    The difference is the person always on SDN that thinks a 35 is "average" when its the 95th percentile and they think they can get to the 95th percentile by buying a $30 review book and studying for 3 weeks because some troll on SDN said they did.
     
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  13. Espadaleader

    Espadaleader 5+ Year Member

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    You'll be surprised at how many people are like "If I get a 35..." Lol @ that. You don't even have a 3.5, how are you gonna get a 35?
     
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  14. lmn

    lmn 2+ Year Member

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    The MCAT is definitely a challenging test, but imo you are really making it out to more than it is. If you prepare thoroughly and effectively and are scoring in the mid 30's+ consistently on all the practice tests, short of an exam day choke due to nerves, you are extremely unlikely to score below a 30 no matter how "difficult" that test happens to be. If you are truly scoring a 35+ consistently, you are showing a high level of mastery of the subject material as well as application and adaptation to new situations, you aren't going to suddenly bomb the test for reasons other that nerves/illness/etc. A 25 on the other hand shows a very weak understanding of the concepts covered in the test and/or inability to apply and adapt knowledge of subjects along with critical thinking ability in a test situation (excluding the relatively few that are just completely unable to take standardized tests effectively).
     
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  15. mrh125

    mrh125 Banned Banned Account on Hold

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    I can see why you'd say that for a few people, but not everyone is that way. People can study the exact same way, have the same approach, and get totally different scores. You can't assume everyone's abilities are equal and uniform across the board especially when 75%+ of people dont get above of 29 on that test. A complete understanding of most of the material could be one person's 25 and another person's 35, if you drew the line at under 24 you'd have more of a point, but it especially becomes a gray area in the 27-29 area. Were they actually less prepared, do they actually demonstrate more mastery? I'd doubt that in many cases.
     
  16. masaraksh

    masaraksh 5+ Year Member

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    Disagree. Zero luck needed to consistently break 30. I'd say luck becomes a factor at roughly 36/37; to get 37+ likely will require some luck.
     
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  17. mrh125

    mrh125 Banned Banned Account on Hold

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    explain, especially w/ regards to the VR where blowing the equivalent of one passage can drop you like 4-5 pts.
     
  18. phunky

    phunky 2+ Year Member

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    Agreed. The difference between 13-15 in a section is between 1 and 5 questions at the very most. A lot of luck involved with it.

    Scoring above a 30 takes 0 luck if you're a decent test taker and understand the material.
     
  19. lmn

    lmn 2+ Year Member

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    Of course people may do the same exact prep and get different scores, everyone needs different tactics and approaches to do well. They have to prep in a different ways and amounts until they mastered the material and testing methods. I have never seen someone with a complete or even near complete understanding of all the mcat subjects (who didn't have a testing disability or didn't have horrible testing taking strategies) who would score at a 25, that simply is not even close to a mastery of the subject material or of the ability to critical reason no matter how you break it down. So what if 75% of score a 29 or less? That means nothing, many, many people don't prepare adequately for the test and go into it thinking they are fine from what they remember in college and score extremely low scores, this happens much more often than people scoring a high 30's or in the 40's score. A 29 doesn't show strong understanding or test taking ability and therefore, as seen by the average accepted mcat scores of around a 32, isn't good enough.

    Assuming an equal score, if you are scoring in the mid 30's, you aren't going to suddenly bomb an entire passage under any normal circumstances. If that happens, you either had a complete brain fart or you aren't really at the level where you would be if you are consistently getting 11, 12's +.
     
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  20. chenzt

    chenzt 2+ Year Member

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    Screen Shot 2014-05-20 at 10.02.16 PM.png

    Not true except 15 --> 11. And that's assuming you get every single question wrong. Chance says you should get 1/4 of all questions right purely on guessing.

    Blowing an entire passage just means that you weren't prepared.
     
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  21. sunflower18

    sunflower18 Master of Naps 5+ Year Member

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    I agree. I averaged 13-14 on all of my practice tests in VR -- I got a 10 on the real deal. I honestly had not gotten lower than an 11 in VR on ANY of my practice tests. So I scored a 33, but if I had gotten my average on VR, it would have been 36-37. Definitely a bummer, and I honestly think it came down to bad luck since I was consistently scoring much higher on practice tests. For the science sections, on the other hand, I scored my averages exactly.
     
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  22. mke520

    mke520 2+ Year Member

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    there is a lot of luck with the exam you're given too...let's just say i scored in the mid 20's on my first MCAT and then mid 30's on my second MCAT with only a month in between each exam because once i saw my first MCAT score i immediately signed back up and took the next available MCAT...i was scoring in the mid 30's consistently on the practice exams but on my first MCAT exam there were 2 or 3 bio and phys passages that i was like wtf on whereas on my second MCAT i scored a 14 in the bio and 11 in phys with only 1 passage i was like wtf on in the phys section that i had to just straight up guess on...there are exams that you'll do better on that others, so there is some luck with the exam you're given. for me it was a difference of 8 points
     
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  23. Kochanie

    Kochanie

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    I know plenty of people with sub 3.5s and 35+ MCATs. The average of premed students is 36 here, actually, with a much lower GPA. So... school rigor?
     
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  24. Entadus

    Entadus Happy on 5-HT 7+ Year Member

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    On my re-take, I also was hitting 13-14 avg VR, and 41-42 overall on the AAMC's (first time taking most of these). Needless to say that didn't happen on test day. (11 VR / 36 overall)

    Maybe the pressure of test day is to be blamed. Or random chance. Who knows? What I do know is a single extra correct question on the VR or BS would have probably added to my score. Oh well.
     
  25. touchpause13

    touchpause13 nolite te bastardes carborundorum 2+ Year Member

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  26. LostinLift

    LostinLift 2+ Year Member

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    I'm smarter. That's the difference. Jk, I had under a 3.0 GPA from undergrad and didn't try to learn the material at all. On my first diagnostic practice MCAT, after my pre-reqs which I didn't study for or do any conscious work for, I scored a 9.

    After going back and teaching myself all the basic material I was in the 30s and after doing a few practice tests I scored in the upper 30s low 40s on the rest.

    Hard work, good test taking skills, intelligence. It's a combination of the 3. Luck only really factors in to 35+, not 25-35.
     
  27. mrh125

    mrh125 Banned Banned Account on Hold

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    Idont think you can say that 100%. there are a lot of curveballs and when many of the study sources from VR aren't representative of the real deal and with the randomness of the mcat it's hard to just say you aren't prepared. It's a bit of an overgeneralization.
     
    Last edited: 05.20.14
  28. Gauss44

    Gauss44 2+ Year Member

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    MORE THAN INTELLIGENCE

    It seems to me that the answer to your question in the OP is on a case by case basis. There's no one reason for every single situation; not even one main reason for most cases. In fact, with all due respect, I think you might be able to perform a study or do a thesis on this exact question.

    Regarding doing well on the MCAT:
    Intelligence/ability of brain to apply knowledge: Yes, a certain minimum amount is required.
    Knowledge/information gained: Yes, some schooling is required.
    Preparation: Yes, either a specific MCAT review or recent coursework in all subjects is necessary for normal people. Financially affording quality preparation like private tutors, test taking skills, guided meditation, etc. is an advantage. (Even though many people use the same books, few people if anyone perfectly master every last detail of information they have, especially if you're using Berkeley Review.)
    Timing: Taking the MCAT directly after preparing for it is an advantage, whereas waiting years or even months after preparing (for whatever personal reasons) can lower a score.
    The basics: Adequate sleep, food, and shelter, thanks Maslow.
    Lack of fatal flaws: Well, anxiety, learning disabilities, a serious lack of test taking skills, and I'm sure other things can potentially sink your ship.
    etc.

    Don't forget that some people RETAKE the MCAT after scoring in the low twenties and end up scoring above 35.
     
    Last edited: 05.20.14
  29. mrh125

    mrh125 Banned Banned Account on Hold

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    I really don't think it's that generalizable. It's easy to make claims like that but you can't just say 75% of the people didn't adequately prepare for the exam. that's a huge generalization and does a lot of people a disservice. a 32 is only the median accepted score due to increased competition which is totally independent of how one prepares for the test. a 28 was the median just 4-5 years ago. what works for you may not work for a lot of people. mastery can only go so far in the case of a lot of people and there a huge number of different variables and the randomness of the mcat really hits hard above 30. if this wasn't SDN where there are so many great test takers, it'd be easier to recognize that. Otherwise it's like einstein saying anyone his age who is a physicist could have written his theory on relativity and discovered e=mc^2. Also saying 27 and adequate mastery is equivalent to learning disabilities when it was 1 pt below average a few years ago is just wrong. If 27 and adequately being prepared were indicative of a learning disability you'd have a lot more people realizing they've had undiagnosed learning disabilities all their life regardless of prior achievements.
     
    Last edited: 05.20.14
  30. chenzt

    chenzt 2+ Year Member

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    No. There is only one way to lose 4-5 points if you blew an entire passage, and that's from 15 to 11. Everything else you will lose a lot less points. more like 1-3.

    A prepared test taker could deal with the curveball while an unprepared test taker strikes out. That's the difference between a >12 and <10.

    Look, MCAT don't test all the topic but people still prepare for them. What separates the average score student and amazing score student is how few times the latter whiffs at the curveballs MCAT throws at them. Being prepared for those curveball is part of the test, not able to do anything with those curveball is not unlucky, it's unprepared.
     
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  31. terp720

    terp720 2+ Year Member

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    I think the thing is, a whole passage isn't really luck. If it is a question or two difference, that's one thing, but if you're talking about enough to drop you that many points.. that's not luck.
     
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  32. mrh125

    mrh125 Banned Banned Account on Hold

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    A question or two curveball in multiple passages adds up. I was thinking more specifically of something I encountered on my last mcat where one the passages was super cryptic and below the belt.
     
    Last edited: 05.21.14
  33. Narmerguy

    Narmerguy SDN Senior Moderator 7+ Year Member

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    Preparation, familiarity with the test, natural test taking ability, and perhaps a bit of luck. Luck isn't really "necessary" at any score range. If you prepare thoroughly you know enough of the topics that you'll score similarly on any test. The people who fluctuate a lot (and thus have to get lucky) have gaps in their knowledge and so they do a lot better if the test hits fewer of those gaps.
     
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  34. terp720

    terp720 2+ Year Member

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    what?

    okay.. I can see if you say "luck" in terms of what passages you get. But at the end of the day, others are still going to get high scores on them, so it's not like it is impossible to do well on those verbal sections. So it's not really luck... some people are just good at it.
     
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  35. Ace-Co-A

    Ace-Co-A taking up the mantle cell lymphoma 2+ Year Member

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    You say the average MCAT is 36 for applicants who went to your school. What's the average GPA for accepted students at your school?
     
  36. mimelim

    mimelim Vascular Surgery 5+ Year Member

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    Ya, no. Just no. Test preparation is extremely important for every standardized test, those before the MCAT (SAT/ACT) and those after, Step 1/2/3, boards etc. But, what helps more than anything is solid foundation and fund of knowledge. Things that you develop in middle school, high school and then in the beginning of undergrad by studying, reading for pleasure, problem solving etc. Luck is involved the less foundation you have. I'd give you that scores 38+ are random and very much luck dependent, but someone that gets a 40 is not going to get a 30 because they got unlucky.

    I had a 3.4 and scored well over a 35. My wife, who did intro bio, chem and physics 3 years prior and zero orgo got a 35 - 15/7/13 (VR/BS/PS) after a couple weeks of review. And she had zero intention of going to medical school (was already accepted to law school) and was taking it so she could tutor MCAT classes in addition to LSAT classes. She had well below a 3.5 :p.
     
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  37. Kochanie

    Kochanie

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    Sorry! 36 is the average and right below a 3.5 for science GPA for accepted with an acceptance rate of 75%. I hear they can fudge numbers, but that seems about right.
     
  38. chenzt

    chenzt 2+ Year Member

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    AAMC table 24 shows that there are roughly 4000 people fitting those criteria out of 134k applicants from 2011-2013.
     
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  39. Optimus-Prime

    Optimus-Prime 2+ Year Member

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    bicep size... trust me
     
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  40. Kochanie

    Kochanie

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    School's stats not mine.
     
  41. Ace-Co-A

    Ace-Co-A taking up the mantle cell lymphoma 2+ Year Member

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    Haha you weren't obliged to present that information the first time. :smuggrin: A GPA of ~ 3.5 is a little lower than I've heard for top schools. :blackeye: Someone from MIT posted their accepted student info (averages for accepted students: 3.8 cGPA and 36 MCAT).

    So there could be a large-ish number of students from Kochanie's school that fit those criteria in her year. I see no necessary difficulties in believing what Kochanie says. Data is always better, but this is probably not the kind of thing that pre-med advisors want to put out. :poke:
     
  42. Kochanie

    Kochanie

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    Haha true. I have the data pulled up now, I just don't get why they would increase MCAT while decreasing GPA for successful premeds. It makes sense. Slightly higher MCAT to make up for the the slightly lower GPA.
     
  43. juliuspepperwood

    juliuspepperwood 2+ Year Member

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    I had under a 3.4 when I got a 36, and that was 5 below my practice test average...
     
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  44. Ace-Co-A

    Ace-Co-A taking up the mantle cell lymphoma 2+ Year Member

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    Are you a wizard? #srsquestion
     
  45. Kochanie

    Kochanie

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    And that MIT data.... I don't even. How does that make sense? It's a great deflationary school that needs higher than average GPAs/MCATs?
     
  46. chenzt

    chenzt 2+ Year Member

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    Not saying @Kochanie is making it up with her school stats, just that overall, 3.5 or below and 35+ is a rare breed and @Espadaleader has a point.
     
  47. Ace-Co-A

    Ace-Co-A taking up the mantle cell lymphoma 2+ Year Member

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    I'm confused. Can you rephrase?
     
  48. Ace-Co-A

    Ace-Co-A taking up the mantle cell lymphoma 2+ Year Member

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    Shrug. MIT is pretty transparent with its stats. I believe Wilogby posted that information. It's freely available on MIT's website.
     
  49. Kochanie

    Kochanie

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  50. Kochanie

    Kochanie

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    Either way, I'm screwed. BRB changing major to communications.
     
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  51. Ace-Co-A

    Ace-Co-A taking up the mantle cell lymphoma 2+ Year Member

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    To be clear, I'm not saying anyone fudged data. I just like to see average GPAs and average MCATs for accepted students from these schools because I like to get a sense for their grade deflating/inflating status. It is best to have a transparent view of the pre-medical population's stats for that school. MIT's website is very clear.
     

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