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Can You Retake The MCAT?
The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is the final qualifier for admissions into medical school. As such, it is extremely difficult, and it is not uncommon for students to want to retake the test to improve their scores.
Lucky for you, the answer is yes, you can retake the MCAT. There is no rule that states you can only sit for the exam once. Far from it, actually. In the next section, we cover just how many times you retake the MCAT.
How Many Times Can The MCAT Be Taken?
The short answer is that the MCAT can be taken up to a lifetime total of seven (7) attempts. These attempts may be broken up and spaced out by testing years, with consecutive-year attempt caps.
Students often wonder if several attempts can make you look bad when applying to schools. It’s a fair question. Often, taking the test multiple times and raising your score with each attempt can reflect favorably by showing your dedication to becoming a physician.
How Often Can You Take The MCAT?
There are a few answers to this, and they add up to the lifetime cap of seven attempts.
- In a single testing year (12 months), you may take the MCAT three (3) times.
- Within two consecutive years (24 months), it can only be taken four (4) times.
- The lifetime limit of seven (7) attempts includes no-shows and voids.
So, if you take it three times in a testing year and keep raising your score each time, and want to take the test for a fourth time, you will need to wait until the following year. If you need attempts beyond the fourth, you are still bound by the single-year and two consecutive year caps.
For example, the shortest amount of time in which you might be able to use all your attempts would be three years. In test year one you would be allowed to take the test on three occasions.
Year two is consecutive so you would only be permitted to take the test once during that year. Then again in year three you would be permitted to take the test three more times, thereby reaching your lifetime cap of seven attempts.
Common Question: Should I Retake The MCAT?
This is a complicated question. If you set a target score on the MCAT and did not reach your goal, or if you are just not confident that your score is strong enough to get you into your ideal first-choice medical school, you may be considering registering for another MCAT and trying again.
How Do Admissions Departments View Multiple MCAT Attempts?
Remember that when you apply to medical schools, they will see all your MCAT scores, and admissions committees will use that data in varying ways to determine your admission eligibility. Depending on the programs to which you are applying for admission, they may:
- Consider only your highest score
- Average together all your scores
- Consider all scores, but weigh the most recent score heavier
- Consider the highest score from each separate test section
Before applying or deciding to retest, be sure to understand the scoring policy for the programs you are interested in.
But bottom line, you’re better off trying to get a higher score than forever wondering what could have been. Just make sure to bust your butt the second time around studying.
How To Decide Whether Taking The MCAT Again Is Right For You
Deciding whether or not to take the MCAT again can be a difficult choice. As such, we’ve put together a few questions to help you come to a final conclusion.
How Does Your First Score Stack Up?
Obtaining a “good” score on your MCAT depends on the schools you are applying to, and the overall strength of your medical school application. You have access to databases such as the MSAR database of admissions requirements, to help you compare your MCAT score or scores, and GPA, to the averages for the programs on your shortlist. If you appear competitive for the schools you are interested in then a retake is not likely to improve your standing.
How Ready Were You The First Time?
If you were adequately prepared and ready for your first attempt, and gave it your honest best effort, then you may not see much of an increase in your MCAT score on a subsequent test.
On the other hand, if you were not able to put in the time to prepare and study like you should have, or if you were overwhelmed or surprised by the subject matter despite your preparation, then you may benefit from additional MCAT preparation and testing.
Do You Have a Strategy For Improving Your Score?
If you are putting serious consideration into a retest, then you should put serious consideration into your study outline as well. Make sure you are getting in enough practice tests, drills, and keeping an eye on your pacing. Simulate test conditions when you practice, and consider a tutor or prep course to give you an extra edge.
Steps To Ensure You Score High On Your Next Attempt
In order to gain acceptance into medical school, you will want to aim for a minimum score of 510. If you take the MCAT and receive a low score or you simply want to see if you can do better, there are some things you can do to bring your score up on your next attempt.
One of the best ways to prep for the MCAT, whether it’s your first or third attempt, is by taking an MCAT prep course from the likes of Blueprint or Princeton Review. You can take a course online or you can see if your school offers an in-person option.
Online courses are great because you can participate in the class from anywhere – your home, the library, your parent’s house, or a local café. Many online prep courses have a teacher that is live in the class so you are able to ask questions and receive immediate feedback without having to wait for an email response.
In addition to prep courses, you can join a study group or simply study alone or with a friend. If you are trying to improve upon your past scores, it is best to make a study schedule that includes extra time for the areas that you have struggled with on past tests.