What schools to apply to based off MCAT scores?

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Laura Jean

Full Member
Dec 4, 2020
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I know that you can find the mean MCAT score for each school, but I am wondering what range of schools below or under your MCAT you should apply to?

Reach Schools: 3-4 points above?
Good Fit Schools: Your score +/- 2 point
Lower Schools: 3-4 points below?

Does this seem about right? Do the ranges change with your score (like would it be different for a 505 vs a 515)?

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Nope. It's not that simple. First of all, the published numbers are medians, not means. That actually makes a difference. Beyond that, most reviews really are holistic these days, and people at all schools, with all kinds of MCATs, find success if they are bringing something special to the table.

That said, it's pretty unrealistic for someone with a 505 to expect to find success at a school with a 520 median, but, even then, anything is possible. The general rule of thumb involves percentiles, not raw points.

Unless you are a purple unicorn, most people consider targets or fits to be schools where they are near or above the median, and consider reaches to be where they are above the 10-25%-ile. There is really no such thing as "lower" or "safe," because 64% of all applicants were unsuccessful last cycle, even the lowest ranked schools in the country have acceptance rates at or below 5%, and a non-zero number (16% aggregated over the last 3 cycles) of applicants had zero acceptances with GPAs above 3.79 and MCATs above 517.
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The higher up you go, the more slippery it becomes. There can be a big difference between 516 and 519 vs 509-512. The schools with narrower ranges tend to be some of the research powerhouses that focus on stats (Vandy)

All aspects of the application matter. Higher MCAT does not necessarily make up for a lower GPA.
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I have a LizzyM of 76 and a WARS of 86.
So, you're off to a great start. WARS gives you a suggested list of schools, and a breakdown regarding recommendations as to how to spread out your applications among the tiers of schools. All you have to do is modify however you see fit. With a LizzyM of 76, you are probably not below the 25%-ile anywhere, so you are good to go as far as basically taking a shot wherever you want.
If you are planning to apply and would like a school list, share information as according to the WAMC template:

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