MCAT Scoring: How is the MCAT Scored?

Are you about to take the MCAT and wondering what the passing score for MCAT is? Or what is a good MCAT score to get into the medical school of your dreams? Keep reading to find out how the MCAT is scored overall and per section.

Most medical school applicants I have worked with are a little confused about MCAT scoring. With the changes to the MCAT that occurred in 2015, things have only become worse. The stuff that most people know is that there are 4 sections that make up your MCAT score on the MCAT exam:

1. Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • MCAT General Chemistry
  • MCAT Organic Chemistry
  • MCAT Physics
2. Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
  • MCAT CARS
3. Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living systems
  • MCAT Biology
  • MCAT Biochemistry
4. Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
  • MCAT Psychology and Sociology

Your MCAT scores across all of the four sections mentioned above will show a scaled score that accounts for the difficulty of questions you answered properly and improperly.

The MCAT was made to better understand your mastery of the testing materials. You will receive more mastery points if you answer harder questions properly vs. easier questions.

How many questions do you have to get right on the MCAT?

Here's where MCAT scoring can start to get a little strange though for test takers. Each section of the standardized test is scored from 118 to 132. That may seem a bit arbitrary, but it allows the AAMC to set the average MCAT score right in the middle, at 125.

What is the Passing Score for MCAT?

The MCAT score range is between 472-528 when the four scores are added up, with the average MCAT score being 500. A low MCAT score is in the 470 range. The following image comes directly from the AAMC.

What is a Good MCAT Score?

A good MCAT score can vary. MCAT admissions committees are typically pretty holistic, meaning they consider all of your med school requirements such as grades, achievements and extracurricular activities, a personal statement about your journey to medicine, letters of recommendation, and more.

Also, it is important to note that MCAT scores that may be competitive for one school may not be for another school. So, a “good” MCAT score will truly depend on your AMCAs application alongside the specific schools you apply to.

In 2020-2021 the average score (mean) MCAT total score among all matriculants and medical school applicants were:

  • Medical School Applicants: 506.4
  • Medical School Matriculants: 511.5

The most successful M.D. applicants that make up the majority of accepted students typically receive an MCAT total score above the 75th percentile rank, which is considered a higher MCAT score. This can range from 507-508+. Anything significantly under this can be considered an average or lower MCAT score.

how is the mcat scoredhow is the mcat scored

Is the MCAT Graded on a Curve?

The curving of each section to 125 is integral to MCAT scoring, and allows medical schools to compare students between MCATs. It's true that some MCATs may be slightly harder or easier than others. To get an MCAT score of 510 on an "easier MCAT," you would have to get more answers correct than you would have to get on a more difficult version.

So if someone has told you that you can miss 6 questions in a particular MCAT section and get a scaled score of 128 (I hear some version of this all the time!), that's not strictly correct. The truth about MCAT scoring is that missing six questions could equate to a score of 131 or it could be a 125, depending on the test difficulty. You will often hear this explained as "The better your peers do on test day, the harder it is to score higher." This leads to the misguided question I hear most often:

If the MCAT test I am taking is curved in relation to how my peers do on that particular test, when should I take the test so that I am being compared to less competitive medical school applicants?

In actuality, the curve has already been established before the date of the MCAT test, and I am forced to admit to the aspiring med school student that it doesn't really matter. There is a whole fleet of statisticians at the AAMC whose job is to make sure that the curves and test scores are comparable everywhere and for every test date.

How To and Which Med Schools to Apply to Based on Your MCAT Score and Numbers?

If you have a well written application essay and have a good average GPA typically around 3.5, the below can be of some guidance on your next steps depending on your MCAT total score:

  • Below 500: 0-25% M.D. programs; 75-100% D.O. programs
  • 500-504: 25-50% M.D. programs; 50-75% D.O. programs
  • 505-509: 75% M.D. programs, 25% D.O. programs
  • 510+: 100% M.D. programs; 0% D.O. programs

So, the MCAT date you should sign up for has nothing to do with scoring, and everything to do with your studying (or lack thereof) and how prepared you are with MCAT prep and practice exams. Your medical school admissions are important if you want to get into the medical college of your dreams - Practice with Blueprint Prep MCAT tutor today!

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To get the MCAT score you need to get into the medical schools on your desired list, you can’t rely on a mythed test curve. Rather, you must take the time to study for the test using MCAT practice tests and other MCAT test prep resources.

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