September 11, 2014
Why Do I Have to Take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)?Before we dive into the question of “how is the MCAT scored,” let's take a step back and look at the dual purpose this famed med school exam serves in admissions. First, the MCAT is used to predict how a student will perform academically in medical school—primarily in the first two years: those pre-clinical years that are primarily comprised of lectures and labs. Second, the MCAT is used to differentiate applicants in the medical school admissions process. You’ll notice that neither one of these metrics is designed to indicate whether or not someone will make a good doctor.
MCAT Scoring and MythsThis med school exam is scored on a scale of 1-15 for each of the three sections, with an aggregate range of 3-45. The average MCAT score is around a 25; the average score of applicants is around a 28; and the average of matriculants is around a 31. So the major takeaway here is, you don't need a 45 to get into medical school. What you need is a competitive MCAT score for the schools you are applying to.
Myth 1: MCAT scoring based on the student scores from a single test administrationFalse. The MCAT is a standardized test, and while many equate “standardized” with “multiple choice,” what it really means is that the scores can be compared across administrations that contain different sets of questions, So whether you took the MCAT five years ago or yesterday, the scores are comparable. To achieve that standardization, each individual exam has to be “normed” back to the original standard. How is this done? Say that one version of the test requires you to get 70% of questions on the Physical Sciences section of the test correct to score a 10, and another version requires 75%. The discrepancy can be made up for in the difficulty of the questions you receive. So the best thing you can do while taking the exam and preparing for the exam is focus on developing a solid plan of attack for each type of question. At the end of the day, you need to focus on getting as many questions correct as possible. Many times, students suffer from score paralysis—they get so obsessed with the scaled score that they lose sight of the true task at hand, which is learning how to master the MCAT. Only mastering the exam will lead you to the score you need to get into medical school.
Myth 2: Some MCAT administration months are easier than othersFalse. Even if this were true, it wouldn't matter, because the test is always normed back to the standard. In fact, when you take the MCAT, even if there are 30 other students at the testing center taking the exam with you, no one has the same exact set of questions; it’s all randomized. You will definitely have overlapping questions with other students on Test Day, but this isn't like a college exam where everyone gets the same version. For the MCAT, there are multiple forms of the exam for each administration, each of which is individually normed back to the standard. There is a lot that goes into your MCAT scoring behind the scenes. This is why it takes a few weeks to get your scores back, but you shouldn't waste your time or brain energy worrying about that. Instead, apply that grey matter toward securing an MCAT score that will lead you to the white coat! Kaplan can help you achieve your MCAT goals on the current exam and the new 2015 MCAT. Check out our upcoming MCAT class schedules, and get started on your path to living the “good life” of a doctor. Visit our Unlock the Good Life site and find out more about a career in medicine. Learn about salaries, read profiles of successful people, and see how far a higher MCAT score can take you. You will also be entered to win a $10,000 sweepstakes! ...read more
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- Med School Admissions Statistics, Part I: How Many People Get into Medical School?
- Creating Diversity in Your Medical School Application
- Pre-Med Priorities: Tips for Building a Strong Academic Foundation
- Holy cow! I got into Medical School!
- Med School Admissions Statistics, Part III: What’s the Average GPA? (And What Can I Do About It?)
- Med School Admissions Statistics, Part II: What’s the Average MCAT?
- Finding the Right Medical School For You: Your Questions Answered
- Pros and Cons of Taking the New MCAT 2015 in April
- The Pre-Medical Experience: A Critical Review
- A Tale of Two MCATs: Which Should I Take?
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