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why the mcat scoring is ******ed

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by petros, Mar 17, 2001.

  1. i just had a talk with my premed advisor in regard to retaking the mcat. his advice was based on the percentile breakdowns of the subtest scores. what i want to know, is why the hell aren't the points in each subtest given with EQUAL increasing order of difficulty. for example on the SAT, a 700 is about the 90th% and a 730 is 93%. you get a nice standard curve and you know exactly where you stood relative to your peers. why is a 10 on the bio 64-84%!!!!! that is such a HUGE percentile range. the students flanking these percentiles have no buisiness getting the same score! a 64% student gets a 10, and a 91% scoring student gets an 11. schools may think the 11 did just a bit better than the 10, but in reality they are nowhere near eachother. why don't schools just get the difinitive percentiles? i've heard that they do this so that students with similar ability will get the same score when they take and retake. this is a load of b.s.! similar ability is not a 20% bracket, it's about 5%. if a student does better than another then he deserves a better score! in addition after a twelve, every score is almost identical! a 95.7% gets a 12 but a 99% gets a 14. that's 2 points for a 3.3% difference! (maybe two problems!!!) a 98.7 gets a 13 but a 99% gets a 14! this must be one problem!
    i think people get blown away when they hear of scores like a 40, but they don't realize how similar this is to a 35. in terms of percentiles, a 13, 14,14 is like a 1590 on the sat. an 11,12,12 is like a 1530 (about 95%).
    what about a 40 and a 33 (11,11,11) this 33 corresponds to the 93% which is about a 1500. if you heard 1500 vs. 1530 or even 1590 you'd say "all geniuses, hard to differentiate." but if you heard 33,35 and 40 you'd say very different things. the mcat does an extremely poor job of differentiating students! that's why i get so pissed off when receiving advice on whether or not to retake. maybe i'm bitter, but i thought this breakdown was ******ed even before i took the test. oh yeah, why do you need a 75% on the verbal to get a 10, but you only need a 64% on the bio to get a 10. people say get a 10,10,10 but these are very different scores in themselves!

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  3. wooo

    wooo Senior Member
    10+ Year Member

    Aug 2, 2000
    Likes Received:
    all good points. I don't have a clue.

    It's good to vent.
  4. Dr JPH

    Dr JPH Membership Revoked
    Removed 10+ Year Member

    Feb 4, 2000
    Likes Received:
    Resident [Any Field]
    I take the approach that I am not trying to "beat" the MCAT.

    I'm trying to "beat" all the other people taking the MCAT.

    If one or two problems better means one point better...then, in actuality, that person is one point better than you.

    Trust me, there is no one who dislikes the MCAT as much as I, but it's not going away...not yet anyway.

    Admissions Committees know that the MCAT is graded the way it is. They're not stupid by any means. They also don't open their doors to just anyone, regardless of their score.

    Do well in school, have good extracurriculars, have great letters of recommendation, and go to your interviews with a confident and clear head. You will be fine.

    By the way...I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday (MS3)...he doesn't remember much about the MCAT...I don't think many med students do.

    Just do it.


    Joshua Paul Hazelton
    [email protected]
    University of the Sciences in Philadelphia (2002)
  5. gower

    gower 1K Member
    10+ Year Member

    Oct 14, 2000
    Likes Received:
    The scoring percentiles are done by professional statisticians (I am not even an amateur) who know what they are doing and who are also responding to what the medical schools want to know. Within the percentile ranges, the differences between scores are not significant enough to warrant finer distinctions; they are looking at ranges.

    Each decision to offer interview/accept is made on a case by case basis. The range of MCAT scores for students in any entering class is fairly broad as often is the range of GPAs. All applicants are not alike in other qualities that medical schools seek and GPA/MCAT is not the sole determinant even if they are important factors. The interview itself is often make or break.

    Consider the alternative. Each medical school ranks applicants by GPA/MCAT alone. No interviews, no distinctions based upon undergraduate college, difficulty of curriculum, personal qualities, experience, maturity, etc. Just the absolute numbers with no adjustments for any reason.

    Applicants with high GPAs and high MCAT scores will likely think that fair. Others will scream bloody murder about it. And what kind of physicians would be produced by focus on absolute GPA alone and absolute MCAT score alone? I, for one, shudder to think of it. And I'll bet most of you would too, especially those below the cut-offs.

    So, the reasons for the percentile range and grouping of scores are both technical and for providing flexibilty in considering other factors as well.

    Some, perhaps many medical schools, have an independent review of those in the "to be rejected w/o interview" group, to recover those who escaped notice and appear to merit a second look.

    To outsiders, especially those who seek admission to some select group, it always seems the insiders' choices are arbitrary, unfair, prejudicial, favoritism, etc., a conspiracy against them, unless they are among the fortunate few who are granted access. Then, to them it usually appears fair, recognizing talent when they see it, and the committtes were right in rejecting some of the bozos they know who cheated, etc.

    Conspiracy theories are rampant when there is no access to or understanding of the process of how decisions are made. Medical schools do not waste the valuable time and talents of faculty and the expense of the entire process (only partially subsidized by application fees) in playing mind games with applicants for the hell of it or because they are the kind of people who enjoy pulling off the wings of flies. Think about it, the people in admissions were once premeds like you. Would you be arbitrary if you became medical school faculty and served in admissions? What would be the point of it?
  6. gower,

    You say that the admission fees only partially fund the expense that the medical schools put into it, but how can that be?

    You can't honestly tell me that $60-$100 per applicant (in many cases) is not enough to completely fund the med schools costs in the admissions process.

    After all, what all do they do? They review your file probably a total of about 1 hour, they might hire people to do tours and of course they hire secretaries to take care of paperwork. But exactly how much paperwork do they have? All they have to do is open the mail and sort documents into various applicant folders. Then nothing happens until the adcom meets to review the files.

    You cant honestly tell me that costs $70 to process. Only if they are paying their secretaries about 70k per year or so.

    Maybe I left out a couple of steps that the admissions people go through, but really there is NO WAY it should cost that much.

    "There is nothing more powerful on this Earth as a man who has nothing to lose. It does not take ten such men to change the world--one will do." Elijah Mohammed
  7. yigit

    yigit Senior Member
    10+ Year Member

    Jan 31, 2001
    Likes Received:
    I've taken the MCAT 3 times and I think that my scores might tempt you to take the test again...24,30,34.
  8. praying4MD

    praying4MD 2K Member
    10+ Year Member

    Feb 20, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Resident [Any Field]
    yigit: Wow, your scores are certainly an incentive to take the MCAT again. Congrats! Do you have the secret on how to improve so dramatically? I am studying for the MCAT this April. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
  9. gower,
    you've said some very intelligent things in the past, so it is shocking that such a wad of crap could be typed by your fingers. if the medical schools want a holistic means of making decisions, then they can look at the "whole applicant" AFTER a set of accurate and fair test scores are submitted. making the mcat scoring more true to its percentiles would in no way damage the application process-people with high mcats and gpas are already favored, so we might as well let those with 96% get about the same score as someone with a 99% (2 point separation) and those with a 66% and 93% (again a 2 point spread) get much different scores. how in the world can you say this makes sense. just because some statisticians determine the point breakdown doesn't mean it's fair, or for that matter, acceptable.
  10. bigdirt

    bigdirt Member
    10+ Year Member

    Mar 3, 2001
    Likes Received:

    I think the steps you left out include mandatory week-long conferences for the office staff taking place in Hawaii, Can Cun, Paris, and Amsterdam with such themes as:
    "How to Answer Applicants' Questions Without Disclosing Any Real Information"
    "The Art of Stuffing Envelopes",
    "2001 Ways of Discouraging Applicants From Contacting You",
    "Affixing The Stamp",
    "Filing Systems: An Introduction to the Alphabet",
    "Creative Writing 101: The Rejection Letter",
    "2001-02 List of Justifications for Increasing the Application Fee",
    "Coffee: How to Pour it Without Spilling",
    "Admissions Office Recorded Messages-Another Creative Strategy",
    "The Admissions Process In Two Easy Steps: 1) Cash Check 2) Mail Rejection",

    and finally the ever so essential "Bored on the Job? Too Much to File?....101 Disappearing Magic Acts".

    I sleep a little better at night knowing my money is going towards the betterment of office personnel across the country.
  11. Madison

    Madison Junior Member

    Mar 16, 2001
    Likes Received:

    With all the stress hovering around the medical school process, It is good to have a sense of humor. Thanks for the great laugh. [​IMG]
  12. lilycat

    Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Aug 12, 2000
    Likes Received:
    Attending Physician
    HA! That was a great laugh -- thanks bigdirt.


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