Taking the MCAT is undoubtedly one of the biggest steps you’ll take in your journey to medical school. The MCAT is a difficult test, and you may be wondering whether you may be able to take it again if you don’t get your desired score on your first attempt.
Let’s dive into how many times you can take this test, and whether you should actually do it.
How many times can you take the MCAT?
Theoretically, you can take the MCAT a total of seven times in your lifetime. Voids and no-shows will still count towards your lifetime total.
However, that doesn’t mean that you can simply take the MCAT one time after another until you get the score you desire. In reality, you can take the MCAT up to three times during a single testing year, and a maximum of four times over a two-year consecutive time period.
Even though you could take the MCAT again after a poor score, your application will look much better if you devote a longer time to prepare beforehand and get a good score on your first attempt. Medical schools will still have access to the scores you get on all your MCAT attempts, even the lower ones. Some schools will only take your highest score into consideration, but others will combine all your scores to get an average, or use your most recent score even if it’s not your best.
If you’re considering taking the test without being fully prepared and simply retaking it later, you should keep in mind that taking the MCAT many times could signal to admission committees that you’re struggling with the material — and that you could also struggle significantly during medical school.
Since you’ll have to take the USMLE in medical school, too many MCAT attempts could be taken as a sign that you could get poor scores or fail the USMLE in the future.
Should you retake the test?
Most medical schools prefer applicants who haven’t taken the MCAT more than three times in total. Of course, many students still get admitted to medical school after retaking the MCAT, but your chances will decrease significantly after that third attempt.
It’s natural to want to improve your scores as much as possible, but first, you need to determine whether this is truly necessary. To do so, compare your MCAT score against the Medical School Admissions Requirements database and research the average MCAT score of students who have matriculated at the schools you’re interested in.
If your score is only slightly lower than the average, you’ll probably still have a good chance to be a competitive applicant as long as you have a good GPA and strong extracurriculars. In this case, retaking the MCAT could actually hurt your chances unless you get a significantly higher score on your second attempt. You should also consider whether you’ll have enough time to retake the MCAT before the deadline to submit your application.
Many students actually retake the MCAT to get a better score. You should only retake the MCAT when you’re confident that your performance has improved significantly and that you’ll achieve an appreciably higher score on your next attempt.
How should I prepare before retaking the MCAT?
Once you have determined that retaking the test is a good option for you, it’s time to decide when you should take it again. It’s important to give yourself enough time to prepare efficiently so that you can truly improve your score.
After your first attempt, you should’ve received a total MCAT score, but also a score for each of the four sections that make up the exam. This will allow you to determine the areas where you underperformed. It’s quite possible that you’ll have less time to prepare for your retake than you did for your first attempt, so you’ll need to follow an efficient study schedule that allows you to target your weaker spots.
You should also analyze your studying patterns and methods to figure out where you went wrong, and what changes you can make to improve your performance.
MCAT tutoring can also be a very valuable tool as you prepare to take the MCAT — whether it’s your first attempt or a retake. Medlearnity offers elite tutoring services provided by top medical educators who achieved great scores on all their medical examinations, including the MCAT. You can learn more by visiting our website now.