What is a good MCAT score?

Certification: Test Prep MCAT - Medical College Admission Test


Fundamentals of the MCAT exam

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) refers to a computer-based globally standardized examination that has been especially designed for the prospective medical students of the United States as well as Canada. The question format of the MCAT exam includes several sections, such as: assess problem solving, written analysis, scientific concepts & principles, critical thinking, etc. The MCAT exam is offered at the Prometric centers for at least 25 times in every year. The candidates who aspire to get admission in a medical school take the MCAT exam before applying in the medical schools. A “good” MCAT score refers to the probable score level that enables a candidate to get admission in his/her desired medical school.

Defining Good MCAT score in the current system

In order to define the level of a good MCAT score, it is essential to consider the latest statistics of the MCAT test results administered globally. For example, in 2012, about 89,452 test-takers sat for the MCAT exam.

In the MCAT scoring system, Percentile ranks are reported in order to show the level of performance of a test-taker in the MCAT exam. This percentile ranking system allows the medical schools to display a comparative view among the performance of the test-takers, who has attained the MCAT exam.

An analysis of the overall test-taker performance in the MCAT exam of 2012 is stated below:

The MCAT test combined scores ranged from 3-45.

The average International Total Score: 25.2, along with a standard deviation of about 6.4.

The average MCAT section-based Score for Physical Sciences (PS) was 8.4

The average MCAT section-based Score for Verbal Reasoning (VR) was 8.1

The average MCAT section-based Score for Biological Sciences (BS) was 8.8

Therefore, the combined or total score of 25.2 is equivalent to the 50th Percentile. More to say, a combined or total score of 31.6 refers to about 1 standard deviation above the mean, which is equivalent to the 84th Percentile, and a combined or total score of 38 refers to about 2 standard deviation above the mean, which is equivalent to the 99th Percentile.

The above mentioned example indicates that the average number of the 89,452 test-takers have scored about 25.2 on the MCAT exam. Now, in 2012 if a candidate’s MCAT score lies between the ranges of 25.2 to 31.6 point, then that candidate received a percentile that lied between the ranges of 50th to 83rd percentile. In another case, if a candidate obtains 31.6 point score in the MCAT exam of that year, then that candidate’s performance level is placed one standard deviation over the mean or average score of the entire test-takers. And this candidate’s score reached to 83rd percentile. This indicated that the candidate performed well on the MCAT test and over mounted about 84% of his or her fellow MCAT candidates. Lastly, if any test taker could have make an MCAT score, which would have been greater than 38 point, then that candidate would enter in the exclusive club of the ‘top 1%’ of the entire MCAT test-takers.

Defining Good MCAT score in the updated scoring system

After attaining the MCAT exam a candidate gets five results or scores from the MCAT exam’s scoring system. The candidate gets section-based score for attaining each one of the four sections and thus s/he gets four separate scores. And the fifth score represents the combined or total score derived from the entire four sections. The combined rank is displayed through percentiles.

i.  Section-based Scores 

The MCAT 2015 exam will be comprised of four sections. Those are:

Section one: Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems;

Section two: Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems;

Section three: Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior; and

Section four: Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

In the MCAT 2015 exam, the scoring scale for each section starts from 118 and ranges up to 132. Therefore, the lowest score might be 118 and the highest score might be 132. However, the average score for one section is 125, which can be defined from the midpoint of the lowest and highest score. Test takers will obtain particular score for each section mentioned above. These section-based scores are independent from each other.

ii.  Total or Combined Score 

To measure the overall performance of an MCAT test-taker in the entire MCAT exam, the total score or combined score is provided in the MCAT scoring system. The total score or combined score refers to the summation of section-based scores obtained in the four sections of the MCAT exam. In the MCAT 2015 exam, the scoring scale for the total or combined score starts from 472 and ranges up to 528. Therefore, the lowest score might be 472 and the highest score might be 528. However, the average total or combined score is 500, which can be defined from the midpoint of the lowest and highest total or combined score.

For example, if an MCAT test-taker scores 129 on the Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems section; 124 on the Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems section; 130 on the Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior section; and 126 on the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section, then the total or combined score will be (129+124+130+126=) 509.

However, in the proposed scoring system, the percentile ranks will be applied. The good MCAT score cannot be defined precisely for MCAT 2015 exam, as the updated system has not started yet. Though it is difficult to predict a good MCAT score without analyzing data, it can be assumed that the test takers who will be able to score above the average score or mean position in the percentiles score division, will definitely become successful.


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