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How Long Are MCAT Scores Valid?

For students contemplating their med school timeline, a common question that regularly surfaces is, “How long do MCAT scores last?”

In most cases, medical students plan to apply to and attend medical school as soon as they are able. The reality is, though, that sometimes life circumstances get in the way of those plans. You might feel the pressure to put medical school on hold for a while. If so, you most certainly will need to know how long those MCAT scores will last. We provide the answer to that pressing question in the article below.

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How Long are MCAT Scores Good For?

Contrary to popular belief, the MCAT itself does not come with a built-in expiration date. In other words, your test results do not automatically become “stale” after a certain amount of time elapses post-administration. Instead, MCAT scores are only “good” for or last as long as an applicable medical college will accept them. For this reason, it is very important that you are familiar with the admissions requirements of the institutions to which you are applying.

Today, almost all reputable medical colleges utilize one of two standards for accepting MCAT scores. The vast majority of medical colleges, for example, only accept an MCAT score as valid if it is less than 3 years old at the time the prospective student applies for admission.

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Meanwhile, more and more schools (especially the more elite and selective medical colleges) will only accept MCAT scores that are less than 2 years old (that is, 2 years from the date of application). Both of these standards are maintained to ensure that the results are still reflective of that applicant’s capabilities.

Medical schools will not accept your MCAT scores if they fall out of the realm of their specified time requirements. Unfortunately, if you are unable to meet this time-based requirement, you will not be accepted into medical school without retaking the MCAT and providing the more current score with your application. As such, it is imperative to plan out when you will take your MCAT, based upon which colleges you intend to apply to and what requirements those schools place on MCAT score ages.

Do Medical Schools Discount Old Scores?

Students often question whether medical schools see older scores as unfavorable. Our research hasn’t led us to believe that to be the case. With more and more medical schools leaning towards the 2-year mark for their acceptance of MCAT scores, rather than the standard 3 years, this in itself makes the window for acceptable scores rather short.

With that said, it is probably best to present a score that is within two years of your application date in order to maximize your odds of acceptance. If your scores are more than two years old, some schools might see you as out of practice.

Possible Reasons to Delay Medical School

Are you questioning whether or not you are ready to pursue a career as a doctor? Maybe you want time to increase your MCAT score or you really want to be more academically, mentally, and emotionally prepared before entering medical school. Or maybe you decide to get your master’s degree and strengthen your application. Perhaps you have the opportunity to gain some work experience in the medical arena for a year or two, while earning money to help pay for some of the school expenses you will be incurring.

These might be valid reasons for you to delay medical school. Unexpected life circumstances that arise could also be grounds for delay: Caregiving for an ill or aging parent, pregnancy, issues with your personal health, or getting your finances in order.

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