You might have been dreaming of Harvard Medical School for years, or maybe you are just curious about what it takes to be accepted to a local medical school. No matter the reasoning for your curiosity, understanding your MCAT score is extremely important. This guide will walk you through how to analyze your score and draw conclusions regarding study plans or future medical school fits based on it. We also will reveal to you what it takes to get into some of the most and least competitive medical schools and what aspects of your application you should pay the most attention to.
What’s a Good MCAT Score?
A good MCAT score could be defined by scoring above average. The average MCAT score is usually between 500 and 501 (as seen in the table below). However, if medical school is your goal, as it is for most taking this test, then scoring well above that range will be advantageous to be accepted.
Furthermore, defining your MCAT score as “good”, like any other standardized test, differs from person to person. Your background knowledge and future goals contribute to this perception of “good,” for you.
In the eyes of most mid to top-tier universities, an MCAT score of 517 or higher is a good MCAT score for med school. Medical schools are going to accept students who are above-average typically. However, there are some schools (listed in the “What is the Lowest MCAT Score Accepted into Med School?” section below) that take scores that fall within the more average range.
Setting Goals for Next Time
If you have taken the MCAT and you didn’t score within this self-defined or medical school-defined range of “good,” then thankfully you still have opportunities to improve upon your score by taking the MCAT again and again and again. Three times in one year, then four times the next totaling seven times in one’s life.
Setting goals for these opportunities is essential. Not sure where to aim? Taking practice tests can provide you with insight in terms of measuring your preparedness. Furthermore, reading your score reports from last time can help you gauge where you can find this improvement and focus on that in your studying.
Analyzing where you fall in the ranges of GPAs and MCAT scores for your interested colleges is another helpful way to define what MCAT score is “good” in the eyes of a specific institution. It can also be encouraging for you to score a specific way on the MAT.
What’s the Highest MCAT Score Possible?
The highest possible MCAT score is a 528. However, scoring this highly, or close to it is very rare. The MCAT test is divided into four sections. In each of these sections you are given a score up to 132 based on how many questions you answered correctly. For perspective, less than 1% of students who take the LSAT get a perfect score of 132 on any one of these given sections. Furthermore, the chances a student scores within the perfect range of each of these sections to be added together to get an overall perfect score of 528 is statistically, nearly impossible.
That being said, typically there are about 30 to 70 students who do pull off the perfect score amid the 200,000 MCAT exams taken each year.
A way to better interpret this information is by looking at a MCAT score percentile chart like the one below. The percentile of a specific score is the percent of students who scored below that. For instance, if you scored a 520 on the MCAT, you would land within the 98th percentile. This means that 98% of the students who took the MCAT scored worse than you.
|MCAT Total Score||MCAT Percentile|
What is the Lowest MCAT Score Accepted into Med School?
The lowest MCAT scores that can get accepted to a Medical School at about 500 – 510. These scores are usually correlated with a lower GPA as well that range from 2.8 – 3.0. The schools that accept students who have these scores are lower-tier medical schools, but medical schools nonetheless.
If you scored within or below this minimum range, be encouraged to retake the MCAT. You can do so 3 times a year to improve upon your initial score and heighten your chances of being accepted to a mid to high-tier medical school.
Listed below are medical schools with lower admission standards than usual:
|Name of School||Location||Lowest MCAT Score||Lowest GPA|
|University of Mississippi Medical Center
|University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine
|Kansas City, MO||500||3.0|
|University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences
|Grand Fork, ND||505||3.8|
|Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center-Shreveport
|University of Tennessee Health Science Center||Memphis, TN||510||3.7|
|University of Nevada – Reno
|University of Virginia School of Medicine
|University of Nebraska Medical Center
|Wayne State University School of Medicine
How to Calculate Your MCAT Score?
Your MCAT score is out of 528 points. The test is seven and a half hours long and it consists of four multiple-choice sections: Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems; Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems; Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior; and Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills.
Each section will produce a raw score–or a number of questions answered correctly. This raw score will be calculated into a scaled score for each section that is out of 132 points. The sum of these four sections will be your total MCAT score (out of 528). This score is referred to as your cumulative score and it’s this score that is influential to whether you are accepted into medical school.
Here you can calculate your MCAT score based on these specific sections and see your chances of getting into specific medical schools based on these scores and your credentials.
Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
This section will test your knowledge of biology and your ability to reason critically. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), there are three benchmarks to focus on to score well on this section of the exam:
1) “Structure and function of biomolecules. This is further subdivided into four categories:”
1A) “Structure and function of proteins and their constituent amino acids”
1B) “Transmission of genetic information from the gene to the protein”
1C) “Transmission of heritable information from generation to generation and the processes that increase genetic diversity”
1D) “ Principles of bioenergetics and fuel molecule metabolism”
2) “Interaction of highly-organized assemblies of molecules, cells, and organs to carry out the functions of living organisms. This is further subdivided into three categories:”
2A) “Assemblies of molecules, cells, and groups of cells within single cells and multicellular organisms.”
3)” Integrated functioning of complex systems of tissues and organs to sense internal and external environments of multicellular organisms and to maintain a stable internal environment within an ever-changing external environment.”
This section of the MCAT is 95 minutes long. It consists of 59 questions (44 of which are based on the 10 passages you will be asked to read and analyze.) Your score will, therefore, be translated from out of 59 points to out of 132 scaled points that will contribute to your total MCAT cumulative score.
Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
This section will test your knowledge on many specific concepts and therefore requires much preparation to be in a place to score highly. The Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems section requires you to be familiar with basic biology, chemistry (organic and inorganic), and physics. You will also be tested on biochemistry concepts and molecular biology topics in addition to natural science. Another aspect of this section is you will be asked to show your research methods and reasoning for some answers.
This section of the MCAT, like the Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems section, is 95 minutes long. It consists of 59 questions. Your score will therefore be translated from out of 59 points to out of 132 scaled points that will contribute to your total MCAT cumulative score.
Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
You will be tested on psychology, sociology, and biology concepts. You will have to use research methods to arrive at your answers and demonstrate scientific inquiry and reasoning to arrive at them.
Similarly, this section of the MCAT is 95 minutes long. It consists of 59 questions. Your score will therefore be translated from out of 59 points to out of 132 scaled points that will contribute to your total MCAT cumulative score.
Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
This section of the MCAT will test your comprehension, analysis, and reasoning. You will read passages and answer questions based on your ability to interpret it. Themes including ethics, philosophy, studies of diverse cultures, population health, social sciences, and humanities are throughout the exam.
This section is more similar to what you may be used to from college so it likely will not require as much preparation as the preceding sections that revolve around prior knowledge.
The Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section of the MCAT is 90 minutes long. It consists of 60 questions. Your score will therefore be translated from out of 60 points to out of 132 scaled points that will contribute to your total MCAT cumulative score.
Average MCAT Score for the Top 25 Schools
The Top 25 Med Schools are very selective. Therefore, they have high standards for their applicants to meet, especially in terms of GPA and MCAT score. In the table below, the average MCAT scores accepted matched with the average GPA accepted for each of the 25 Medical Schools are listed.
If you do not fit in the ranges listed, then Medical School could still be a possibility in your future. There are plenty of other Medical Schools than those listed below that don’t have as prestigious standards for admission. Furthermore, the values included in this table are based on averages. Therefore, you can be a couple MCAT score points above/below each score listed, the same situation applies to your GPA.
Also, as mentioned later, a lower GPA can be often made up for by an especially high MCAT score while a few MCAT points can be “restored” by an impressive GPA. However, having both strong results for your MCAT score and a respected GPA will put you in the best place for admission to one of these top 25 Medical Schools.
|Rank||Med School||MCAT Score||GPA||Acceptance Rate|
|2||Johns Hopkins University||520||3.94||6%|
|4||University of Pennsylvania (Perelman)||521||3.9||4%|
|5||University of California – San Francisco||517||3.85||3%|
|7||University of California–Los Angeles (Geffen)||517||3.82||2%|
|8||Washington University in St. Louis||521||3.85||10%|
|9||Cornell University (Weill)||518||3.85||6%|
|10||Mayo Clinic School of Medicine (Alix)||520||3.91||2%|
|11||New York University (Langone)||522||3.93||5%|
|12||University of Washington||509||3.68||4%|
|14||University of Pittsburgh||517||3.81||5%|
|16||University of Chicago (Pritzker)||521||3.9||5%|
|17||University of Michigan – Ann Arbor||514||3.82||5%|
|19||Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai||517||3.84||7%|
|20||Northwestern University (Feinberg)||519||3.88||8%|
|21||University of California – San Diego||515||3.81||4%|
|22||Baylor College of Medicine||518||3.92||4%|
|23||University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center||515||3.8||8%|
|24||Case Western Reserve University||518||3.8||9%|
|25||University of Virginia||518||3.91||11%|
What MCAT Score Do You Need for Harvard?
So you’re wondering what it takes to get into the Harvard Medical School. Harvard University is the most prestigious medical school in the United States and therefore is extremely difficult to be accepted to. Harvard Medical School offers MD/PhD, MD/MPH, MD/MBA, MD/MBE, MD/MMSc, MD/MPP, MD/MBI programs making it one of the most accomplished institutions in the world and constantly ranked #1.
Who do they accept?
Due to their popularity, Harvard Medical School usually gets about 7,000 applications each year. This group is then narrowed to about 900 students who get to the interview portion. After considering a variety of factors, about 150 to 200 students are actually accepted to the university. This totals to about 2% of the original applicants who make the cut at the end of the day. This statistic illustrates how truly competitive Harvard’s Medical School is.
Typically, Harvard’s Medical School accepts a GPA average of 3.9 and an MCAT score of 520. However, the ranges of accepted GPAs are from 3.7 to 4.0, often depending on where you went to school for your undergraduate degree. Similarly, your MCAT score can technically be from 513 to 525. Obviously, your chances of acceptance are at higher risk if you fall on the lower edge of these ranges, however, it is still possible.
What do they look for?
Often when considering Medical School applications, the universities first look at your MCAT score range and GPA to ensure that they fall within range. In other words, your essay or letters of recommendations will rarely make up for lost MCAT points or a low GPA due to the school’s priorities. That being said, a lower GPA can be often made up for by an impressive MCAT score and vise versa.
These additional pieces of criteria when applying to Harvard Medical school include: specific classes (biology, chemistry, physics, math, and writing), extracurricular activities, volunteer work, research experience, letters of recommendation, and experience with patients during your years in pre med (not required, but very advantageous.)
These additional pieces of information will complete your application by giving Harvard readers additional insight to your personality, values, and goals. This will help differentiate the school’s candidates and provide a more coherent profile for each applicant. Use each of these opportunities to set yourself apart from your competition for your best chance of being accepted into Harvard’s Medical School.
Wrapping Things Up: MCAT Score Range
Interpreting your MCAT score is very important in planning your future medical school endeavors. Understanding the standards your dream school has for their applicants will illuminate the goals you need to set in terms of GPA and MCAT score to get there. Furthermore, your MCAT score can perhaps be best grasped by comparing it to the MCAT average and percentile scores for a specific medical school, or just in general. We hope that this guide helped navigate your score and set realistic goals for the next time you take the test.
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