Studying your butt off for months, suffering through an anxiety-inducing test day, and then waiting an entire month just to get a lower-than-expected MCAT score is by no means a pleasant experience. It is so bad in fact that many students decide to quit trying to go to medical school altogether. But please don’t despair. You may still have a good chance without needing to take the MCAT again. Let’s consider three things that will help you decide on what steps to take next:
Should I retake the MCAT?
- Is your MCAT score balanced?
If one of your sections is 5 points lower than all your other sections (most commonly the CARS section), you may want to retake the MCAT in order to avoid sending a red flag to medical schools, especially if you have aspirations to attend a top-25 medical school. Admissions committees like students to have an even score, showing that they are proficient in each area.
- What is your long-term goal?
If you are reading this, it is likely that your end goal is to be a doctor. But let’s get more specific: what do you want to do within the field of medicine? Do you want to be a physician scientist at a prestigious top-ten medical school? Or do you want to be the go-to doctor in your small-town community? Both are equally valuable, but it is up to you to decide what your vision for yourself is. Once you’ve got that picture in mind, think about which medical schools will get you there. Do you need to go to Harvard? Do you need to earn an MD? Can you reach your goals as a DO? Come up with a list of some schools that will allow you to reach your dream.
- Your score may not be perfect, but is it high-enough?
As pre-meds, we tend to be a little too hard on ourselves. I’m sure some of us might actually think, “I scored a 527… but if I only I had gotten a 528!” It may sound silly, but we tend to focus on those who did better than us rather than appreciating and being grateful for what we have achieved. Congratulate yourself on the success you had and plug your MCAT score, GPA, and race into SDN’s LizzyM Calculator. It will allow you to determine your chances at being accepted to any medical school. It will also generate a list of medical schools that fall within your range. If the schools that you want to go to fall in or below this range, you should move forward with confidence and start working on your medical school application.
If your score isn’t balanced and/or is not high enough for the medical schools that you want to attend, you should begin planning on retaking the MCAT. It isn’t an easy task, but improving your score is possible.