Shirafune

5+ Year Member
Jan 2, 2014
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I have a 33 (14PS/8VR/11BS).
c/sGPA: 3.9x

A year ago, SDN reassured me that an 8VR would not auto-screen me out of most schools. I recently purchased MSAR with hopes to apply next cycle, but it seems like many schools with composite MCAT medians of 35 or less still have 9 as their 10th percentile VR. I'm interested in research-oriented schools.

How does 8VR affect chances for II, even if the rest of my app is fine/great? How about after interviews?

I've been seriously considering an additional gap year just so I have enough time to restudy :(
 

LizzyM

the evil queen of numbers
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Mar 7, 2005
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I have seen applicants who retook and scored 36+ the second time around. Of course, what proportion of applicants get that result is unknown to me.

My dean recommends taking total MCAT, not subscores, as best predictor of med school success and perhaps some other schools will take the same approach and find your unbalanced score to be fine particularly if you are a non-native speaker (reader) of English.

Have you applied to matriculate in 2016? Are you looking ahead to the next cycle? If you applied this cycle and don't have interviews by Thanksgiving, then explore retaking in April or May 2016.
 

mimelim

Vascular Surgery
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Sep 19, 2011
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Copy/pasting myself...

The age old question of whether or not to retake an MCAT can virtually always be distilled down to this:

Retake your MCAT if there is a reasonable chance that you will do significantly better the second time around. Significantly better is defined as 3+ points on the old scale. Do not retake the MCAT because you want or 'need' a better score. By this standard, virtually nobody should be retaking a 35+ because the variability goes up significantly toward the top end of the range. But, a 29 shouldn't automatically retake.

Why do you think that your score will improve? What did you do less than adequately the first time around? If you don't have obvious holes that can be plugged, or good reasons why your first score was lower than it 'should have been', ie you were sick, it is pointless to fantasize about what a higher score will do for you.

A fair number of people will have their score decrease. Verbal is considered to be the most resistant to improvement.
 
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mimelim

Vascular Surgery
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Sep 19, 2011
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I have seen applicants who retook and scored 36+ the second time around. Of course, what proportion of applicants get that result is unknown to me.

My dean recommends taking total MCAT, not subscores, as best predictor of med school success and perhaps some other schools will take the same approach and find your unbalanced score to be fine particularly if you are a non-native speaker (reader) of English.

Have you applied to matriculate in 2016? Are you looking ahead to the next cycle? If you applied this cycle and don't have interviews by Thanksgiving, then explore retaking in April or May 2016.
I know...

https://www.aamc.org/students/download/271680/data/retestertotalscorechange.pdf

Applicants with a 33-35 that had a 1-7 point increase was 57%, the rest either stayed the same or dropped.
 
OP
Shirafune

Shirafune

5+ Year Member
Jan 2, 2014
946
733
Status
Medical Student
I have seen applicants who retook and scored 36+ the second time around. Of course, what proportion of applicants get that result is unknown to me.

My dean recommends taking total MCAT, not subscores, as best predictor of med school success and perhaps some other schools will take the same approach and find your unbalanced score to be fine particularly if you are a non-native speaker (reader) of English.

Have you applied to matriculate in 2016? Are you looking ahead to the next cycle? If you applied this cycle and don't have interviews by Thanksgiving, then explore retaking in April or May 2016.
I was planning to apply next cycle and would matriculate 2017 with 1 gap year under my belt. I am a native speaker, but have always had issues with critical reading (not necessarily scientific literature processing) on standardized tests. I do well in humanities classes, so it might just be a "learn how to write" for this particular exam kind of thing...
 

GrapesofRath

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May 5, 2015
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I was planning to apply next cycle and would matriculate 2017 with 1 gap year under my belt. I am a native speaker, but have always had issues with critical reading (not necessarily scientific literature processing) on standardized tests. I do well in humanities classes, so it might just be a "learn how to write" for this particular exam kind of thing...
The best way to show you why it's not usually a good idea to re-take is to go through the thought process anybody should go through when they are considering a re-take.

Here is what you need to consider
a) It is incredibly foolish to consider re-taking the MCAT without consulting the official statistics of retakers.
https://www.aamc.org/students/download/271680/data/retestertotalscorechange.pdf: Here is the link. You can check out re-take stats for specific sections as well which is also mandatory to do.
b) For a re-take to be justifiable, 3+ points is the threshold for what constitutes real improvement
c) Goro and gyngyn and others in the know will tell you this all the time; re-taking scores that clearly are competitive to a number of ADCOMs does not reflect well on applicants in many cases. Some consider it a form of arrogance. For others, re-taking high scores shows an inability to focus on what is relevant to you and what is most important to improving your application. This is perhaps the biggest reason why re-taking these 34+ scores is not a smart thing. I've seen Goro tell people in the past that re-taking these type of scores would definitely damage your chances(if not kill them) at getting a II at gyngyn's school and other places with similar MCAT policies/views.
d) A number of schools regardless of what lip service they'll give on the record average multiple MCAT attempts. So right off the bat you can see at a number of schools re-taking has limited value just from a numerical perspective. Furthermore, these also tend to be schools that view re-taking scores when they are high rather poorly. Unfortunately, most schools that do in fact average multiple MCATs won't give you a clear, non-evasive answer for whether they do in fact do it.

So let's apply all that here. 8 for Verbal has often been cited in the past as the cut off for what is a sufficient score. Many people get into medical school every year with 8's in the verbal section. MSAR use to cite the percent of applicants accepted each year with each score in a subsection. I don't think they do anymore but the 8 was not alarmingly low at all when they did. However, any below an 8 is where problems start arising. Gonnif has said in the past for a 7 in verbal a retake is pretty much mandatory and a pretty noticeable red flag at a vast majority of schools. So in many ways, consider yourself lucky. You just squeaked by with a verbal score that many view as sufficient but any lower would cause real problems. A number of schools will screen out for 7 or lower verbal scores but not for 8.

I bring all this up because lets look at the statistics for people who retake 8's in verbal
https://www.aamc.org/students/download/271686/data/retestervrscorechange.pdf

With an 8 on your record, a 9 won't really help you. You need a 2+ point improvement to really see any if any benefit. 31% of re-takers pull this off. Not exactly a lot. Much more significantly, 24% get lower on the retake and get into that 7 range or lower. All of these people who do this have really shot themselves in the foot. You already have a competitive score. Re-take and get a 7 or lower and you really have caused problems for yourself. 20% who retake 8's don't do better on the retake and if anything are only hurting themselves. So really, you got a 31% chance of helping yourself retaking an 8, 24% of really damaging your chances and 69% of not helping yourself. Those aren't favorable odds. Maybe if you had a 28 it would be justifiable to re-take. But when your score is already rather solid, there is simply little way to justify a re-take.

A big reason why people with 8's in verbal often don't have success is because their MCAT in general isn't up to par. An 8 with a 27 overall won't fly for MDs. But there aren't many people with 8's who still end up with 33's overall; those who do are fine. Nobody is going to make a big deal about an 8 in one subsection which is given the most slack if you can get a 25 on the two science sections combined and have an otherwise competitive app. I think gyngyn even said the exact same thing to someone last week with an 8 in verbal and 33 overall.

So when you consider all this I think the decision's pretty clear; don't retake.
 
Sep 5, 2015
102
46
The Golden State
Status
Medical Student
I have a 33 (14PS/8VR/11BS).
c/sGPA: 3.9x

A year ago, SDN reassured me that an 8VR would not auto-screen me out of most schools. I recently purchased MSAR with hopes to apply next cycle, but it seems like many schools with composite MCAT medians of 35 or less still have 9 as their 10th percentile VR. I'm interested in research-oriented schools.

How does 8VR affect chances for II, even if the rest of my app is fine/great? How about after interviews?

I've been seriously considering an additional gap year just so I have enough time to restudy :(
An 8 in verbal is right around average. Don't retake!
 

feather421

2+ Year Member
Jan 12, 2015
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Medical Student
I've seen Goro tell people in the past that re-taking these type of scores would definitely damage your chances(if not kill them) at getting a II at gyngyn's school and other places with similar MCAT policies/views.
Know someone who retook the MCAT with a 32 and scored 3 points lower. He didn't have a successful cycle (no IIs). Unless you can be sure you'll get above the confidence band and score a 36+, I wouldn't retake.
 

Lawper

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Know someone who retook the MCAT and scored 3 points lower. Unless you can be sure you'll get above the confidence band and score a 36+, I wouldn't retake.
Ouch. That has got to hurt.

Normally, i would argue it's a case-by-case basis and it would be fine to retake an unbalanced 30+ score to balance it out, but it is well known that an 8 in VR is okay and there is no need to retake a 33. A 7 in VR or below, or an 8 or below in the sciences are sufficient grounds of retaking even despite a 30+ cumulative (although it may not be necessary in bizarre cases like 15/6/15 or 15/15/7)