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MCAT Scores – MCAT Exam Score Scale, Report, Receiving and Sending Scores

by Anup Chowdhury

MCAT scores play a crucial role in identifying the institutions/colleges in the US/Canada where a student can obtain admission in medical courses. Being a globally acclaimed medical entrance examination, MCAT scores are accepted at all the top medical institutions/colleges in the US and Canada. Conducted by the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), aspirants from different corners of the world appear for this examination to get admission in a medical degree course. For Indian students, who wish to study medicine in the US or Canada, they need to take up the MCAT exam in a country nearby where its examination centre is located. It’s a good idea to check in the colleges/institutes where the applicant is planning to apply for medical courses for the rules bound to MCAT scores. The official MCAT scores are released within 30-35 days after the exam date.

What is a good MCAT score? How can a student obtain good MCAT scores? These are some of the frequently asked questions by MCAT aspirants. To get an answer to these questions, the students should primarily have information about the following questions – What are MCAT scores? What is an MCAT score scale? How it is interpreted? What information does an MCAT score report card contain? The answers to all these questions have been covered in detail in this article.

MCAT Scores –  MCAT Exam Score Scale

The applicants will receive five scores from the MCAT exam: one for each of the four sections and one combined total score.

Section Score – The section scores provide the score details of the following major sections covered in the examination. Each section is scored from a low of 118 to a high of 132, with a midpoint of 125 scores. Test takers will receive scores for each of the four sections.

  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

Total Score: Scores for the four sections are combined to create a total score. The total score ranges from 472 to 528. The midpoint is 500.

The image below shows how the MCAT section score and the total score is ranged.

mcat-scores-scales

MCAT Scores – MCAT Score Interpretation

  • MCAT exam is scaled and equated so that scores have the same meaning, no matter when the applicant schedules a test. Applicants achieve correct scores on the four multiple-choice sections of the MCAT exam which are based on the numbers of questions they answer correctly.
  • Wrong answers are scored exactly the same as unanswered questions and do not affect the score. There is no additional penalty for wrong answers. The correct score for each section is converted to a scaled score ranging from 118 to 132.
  • There are many different test forms administered, out of which the applicant could see any one on their exam day. The different forms of the exam are designed to measure the same basic concepts and skills, but each form contains different sets of questions.
  • It is made sure that each form has an equivalent difficulty level. However, the chances are that one form may be slightly more or less difficult than another.
  • The scaled score, reported on a 15-point scale, tends to provide a more stable and accurate assessment of a student’s performance.
  • Two students with equal preparation who answered different sets of questions would be expected to get the same scaled score, even though there might be a slight difference.
  • The MCAT exam is not graded on a curve. Instead, the MCAT exam is scaled and equated so that scores have the same meaning.
  • AAMC scales and equates each exam after each test day. This takes 30 to 35 days. The scaling and equating process is done to account for small differences in the difficulty of test questions.
  • The percentile ranks provided on the score report shows the percentages of test takers who received the same scores or lower scores on the exam.

A sample MCAT score report is shown below (contains total score, percentile, score profile, and the score of an individual section).

MCAT score reports

MCAT score reports

MCAT Scores – MCAT Score Report Card

Understanding the score report is crucial, as this is the same information which admission committees will check to evaluate applications. The components of the score report are percentile ranks, confidence band and score profile.

The percentile ranks provided on the score report shows the percentages of test takers who received the same scores or lower scores in the exam. Confidence bands show the accuracy of the section and total scores.  Confidence bands mark the ranges in which “true scores” likely lie. Confidence bands help signal the inaccuracy of test scores and are intended to discourage distinctions between applicants with similar scores.

Score profiles are included to show applicants their strengths and weaknesses across all four sections of the exam.

MCAT Scores – Sending and Receiving Scores

Mostly, medical schools accept scores dating back two or three years. The AAMC will continue to report scores from the prior version of the exam through the 2019 AMCAS application cycle. Scores are automatically released to AMCAS. This means that applicants do not need to take any additional steps to insert their scores into their application. Scores can be sent to other centralised application services (AACOMAS, CASPA, SOPHAS, etc.) or individual institutions in two ways – electronically through the score reporting system and by mailing a copy of official score report.

Most reliable and secure way to submit a re-score request is to use the MCAT document uploader, which is available here.

MCAT Scores – Score Release Dates

Applicants need to login into the MCAT Registration System to select the exam date and location. All dates are subject to change. For current information about test dates and locations, visit the MCAT Registration System and sign up. The international sites follow a different testing schedule for 2019 depending on location.

Click here to check for International centres and dates.

MCAT exam date calendar

MCAT exam date calendar

MCAT 2019 Registration Dates and Deadlines

MCAT 2019 Registration Dates and Deadlines

MCAT 2019 Registration Dates and Deadlines

MCAT Scores – What is a good MCAT score?

  • Top Scores – This score will put applicants in the top 10% of all test takers. Applicants should obtain a score between 514-528. For each section, the following scores can help –
    • Chemical and Physical Foundation of Biological Systems – 129-132
    • Critical Analysis and Reading Skills – 129-132
    • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems – 129-132
    • Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior-129-132
  • Competitive Scores – These scores can place applicants to a highly competitive place in admissions i.e. in top 25% of all test takers. The total MCAT score should range between 508-513, while the section-wise scores should range from 127-128
  • Less competitive scores – These scores will put applicants ahead of 50% of total test takers and the total score should range between 500-507. The section-wise score should be between 125-126.
  • Below average scores – These scores are enough to get into certain medical schools. The total MCAT score should be 499 or below, while the section-wise score should be 124 or below.

MCAT Scores – Important Tips to Remember

Few tips for obtaining good MCAT scores

  • Students have to organise their study space to get into preparation mood. They should find a space free of distractions and create a positive mood to prepare for the exam.
  • They need to make a study schedule and stick to it. Applicants should set a time frame such as 6-8 hours a day and follow this schedule everyday to be able to cover the syllabus and be well prepared before the exam.
  • MCAT prep books and videos are crucial which add to the personal preparation strategies for the exam.
  • Applicants should not try to finish 3 full length MCAT practice tests in a week which can hinder their preparation and hamper their progress. Many students fall into trap of over-testing themselves. They might lose confidence due to this.

MCAT Scores – FAQ

Q. Is the MCAT exam graded on a curve?
A. Test takers often have a query obtaining a high score is easier or harder at different times of the testing year. The MCAT exam is not graded on a curve. Instead, the MCAT exam is scaled and equated so that scores have the same meaning, no matter when they test or who competes among each other.

Q. How long does it take to receive MCAT scores?
A. Scores are released approximately 30-35 days after each test day. Read when it is released in the “Score Release Date” section in this article.

Q. How do I understand my percentile ranks?
A. The percentile ranks provided on score report show the percentages of test takers who received the same scores or lower scores in the exam.  Read more about it in “MCAT scoring” section.

Q. Will medical schools know if I void my exam?
A. Medical schools do not have any record of exams which they chose to void or no-show, nor do they have the ability to access via a system. Only applicants will have a record of these exams through the MCAT Score Reporting System.

Q. How are multiple MCAT scores used?
A. Medical schools use multiple sets of MCAT scores in several ways:

  • Some schools weigh all sets of scores equally and note improvements.
  • Other schools consider only the most recent set of scores.

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