The MCAT exam, developed by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), is intended to assist medical school admissions committees in evaluating applicants. It is not a straightforward exam, and many students struggle to achieve their desired results. Retaking the MCAT is quite common among students. These students are dissatisfied with their results and believe they can do better.
For various reasons, prospective medical students frequently find themselves in the difficult position of deciding whether or not to retake the MCAT. Perhaps you were nervous on test day or did not meet your target score. Whatever your reason, it’s critical to understand that you can take the MCAT more than once. Read on to discover more about how many times can you take the MCAT.
Can You Take the MCAT Again?
The Medical College Admission Test is the last step in the admissions process to medical school. As a result, it is extremely difficult, and students frequently want to retake the test to improve their scores.
You’re in luck because the response is yes, you can retake the MCAT. There is no rule stating that you can only take the exam once. The following section discusses how many times can you take the MCAT.
How many times can you take the MCAT?
The quick response is that the MCAT can be taken seven times in a lifetime. These attempts can be divided and spaced out by testing years, with consecutive-year attempt limits. Students frequently wonder if multiple attempts will make them look bad when applying to schools. Taking the test multiple times and improving your score with each attempt can reflect positively by demonstrating your dedication to becoming a physician.
You should understand that taking the MCAT again is not a poor idea. Thousands of students retake the exam yearly, and many go to medical school. The AAMC specifies how many times you can take the exam, but the limits are quite generous. According to the AAMC, you can take the MCAT up to 3 times in a year, 4 times in two years, and seven times in your lifetime.
How Frequently Can You Take The MCAT?
There are a few options, which all add up to the lifetime limit of seven attempts.
- You may take the MCAT three times in a single testing year.
- It can only be taken four times in two consecutive years.
- No-shows and voids count toward the lifetime limit of seven attempts.
So, if you take it three times in a testing year and keep raising your score each time, you’ll have to wait until the following year to take it a fourth time. If you require additional attempts after the fourth, you are still limited to the single-year and two-consecutive-year caps.
For example, the shortest time you can use all of your attempts is three years. You would be permitted to take the exam three times in test year one. Because year two is consecutive, you would only be able to take the test once that year. Then, in year three, you’d be able to take the test three more times, bringing your lifetime attempts to seven.
How many times can you take the MCAT? How many retakes are best?
Students who find the AAMC’s limits problematic should take some time to consider their options before signing up for another test date. Taking the MCAT too often will negatively affect your medical school application.
You should only take the MCAT three times. Students have not been rejected after taking the exam four or five times. Instead, your chances of admission begin to decline significantly after taking the exam more than three times. One reason is that the USMLE exams you take in medical school have stricter limitations.
You cannot retake the exam if you receive a passing score, regardless of how low the passing score is. Admissions committee members begin to wonder how many times you will have to retake the MCAT if you retake it several times. The goal of the MCAT is to take it as little as possible. Most medical school admissions committees consider three times to be reasonable.
Should you take the MCAT again?
This is a difficult question. If you set a target score for the MCAT and did not meet it, or if you are not confident that your score is high enough to get you into your preferred first-choice medical school, you may consider taking the exam again.
How do admissions officers see multiple MCAT attempts?
When you apply to medical schools, admissions committees will see your MCAT scores and use that data in various ways to determine your admission eligibility. Depending on the programs for which you are applying, they may:
- Only take into account your highest score.
- Add up all of your scores.
- Consider all scores, but prioritize the most recent score.
- Take into account the highest score from each test section.
Be sure to understand the scoring policy for the programs you’re interested in before applying or deciding to retest.
How to determine whether retaking the MCAT is right for you?
Choosing whether or not to retake the MCAT can be a difficult decision. Regarding standardized tests, “do it once and do it right” is the best thing. In an ideal world, you would achieve your MCAT score goal on the first try and be extremely pleased with your results.
Unfortunately, this is not the circumstance for everyone. Sometimes people bomb the MCAT and fare much worse than they expected. People can sometimes only miss their goal score by one point. In many of these cases, test takers wonder, “Should I retake the MCAT?”
Before answering this question, there are questions to answer honestly about yourself and your performance.
How Does Your First Score Compare?
A “good” MCAT score is determined by the schools you are applying to and the overall strength of your medical school application. You can use databases like the MSAR database of admissions requirements to compare your MCAT score or scores and your GPA to the averages for the programs on your shortlist. A retake is unlikely to improve your standing if you appear competitive for the schools you are interested in.
How well were you ready for the first time?
If you were sufficiently prepared and anticipatory for your first shot and gave it your honest best effort, you might not see much improvement in your MCAT score on the following test. However, if you were unable to devote the necessary time to preparation and study, or if you were overwhelmed or astonished by the topic despite your preparation, you may benefit from additional MCAT preparation and testing.
Can you significantly improve?
If you plan to retake the MCAT, you should be confident that you will significantly improve. Significant is a gray area, but it does not always refer to a single point. The MCAT requires significant time, emotional energy, and money. If you’re going to invest that much money again, it should be for a worthwhile improvement.
Maybe you were sick on the day of your exam and knew you could do much better. Perhaps you are aware that you did not study to the best of your ability. Retaking the MCAT and getting a significantly higher score will benefit you if this is the case. Make sure you don’t retake the MCAT and get the same or, worse, a lower score.
Are you already in a good position?
The bottom line is that if you already have a high score but did not meet a goal you set for yourself, taking it again may not be worth it. Maybe your target score was a perfect 528. If you received a 527, we recommend you not retake the exam.
It is not always necessary to retake the MCAT. However, as my advisor advised me, it should be done only once and correctly. By following good strategies and having a solid study plan, you can set yourself up for success and do well on your first try.
Is retaking the MCAT a bad idea?
MCAT test takers study for weeks and months to achieve their target score and have a competitive application to medical school. However, the exam score does not always turn out as expected. Students then wonder if they should retake the MCAT or if retaking the MCAT is a bad idea.
Admissions officers understand that bad days happen and may take an extra try (or two) to get the desired score. If you can improve your score, especially if you can improve it significantly, retaking the MCAT does not look bad and can demonstrate that you have improved and can perform at a higher level after putting in more study time. Medical schools will look at your scores, but retaking the MCAT is not a bad idea if they notice an upward trend.
When Does It Make Sense to Retake the MCAT?
Retaking the MCAT can look bad if you get a less-than-ideal score on your first attempt and then get the same or, worse, a lower score on your second attempt. Staying the same or getting a lower score indicates to medical schools that this is where you are most likely to fall in terms of MCAT performance. It could imply that even with more study time, you could not improve. This has the potential to look bad. When considering retaking the MCAT, ensure you are confident in your ability to improve. Taking a diagnostic test is one way to boost your confidence.
Retaking the MCAT does not always look bad. Repeating the same or worse behavior can be detrimental to an application. An improvement can be a plus on an application, especially if there is a clear reason for the initial poor performance (illness, family emergency before the exam, etc.). Ideally, take the MCAT once and nail it, but it’s a good idea to plan in case you don’t get the desired score.
Steps to Ensure a High Score on Your Next Attempt
To be accepted into medical school, you should aim for a minimum score of 510. If you take the MCAT and receive a low score or want to see if you can do better on your next attempt, there is something you can do to improve your score.
Taking an MCAT prep course from a company like a Blueprint or Princeton Review is one of the best methods to prepare for the MCAT, whether it’s your first or third attempt. You can either take a course online or see if your school has an in-person option.
Online courses are convenient because you can participate anywhere – at home, the library, your parent’s house, or a nearby cafe. Many online prep courses feature a live teacher in the classroom, allowing you to ask questions and receive immediate feedback without waiting for an email response.
Aside from prep courses, you can also join a study group or study alone or with a friend. If you want to improve your past test scores, create a study schedule that includes extra time for areas where you have struggled in the past.
Tips on retaking the MCAT
Deciding to retake the MCAT should necessitate some thought on the part of test takers; there are a few fortes to keep in mind:
- While you can give the MCAT up to seven times in your life, taking it more than three times may be considered a disadvantage by prospective medical schools.
- As a result, if your score is objectively competitive (greater than 510 points), it may not be worthwhile to retest.
- If you plan to retake the MCAT, consider what went wrong on your first attempt so you can adjust your study schedule/habits accordingly.
- Don’t be alarmed! Retaking the MCAT is uncommon, and numerous resources are available to help you succeed on your second MCAT attempt!
Final Thoughts on how many times can you take the MCAT
If you have not yet taken the MCAT, you should concentrate on when you should take the exam. This step is critical because if done correctly, you may not even need to retake the MCAT.
If you took the MCAT, your situation is very different. First and foremost, you must determine whether or not you need to retake the exam. To assist you in making this decision, you should learn how much of a score increase is possible on the MCAT. Not every applicant to medical school has a high MCAT score.
However, if you are convinced that your MCAT score is insufficient, you must devise a strategy for your retake. Begin by analyzing why you did not meet your target score and deciding what you need to do to improve. If you have friends who have aced the MCAT, ask them for tips on how you can improve. Second, devise an effective study plan addressing your previous weaknesses. We hope this article helped you to clear your query on how many times can you take the MCAT.
Frequently asked questions on how many times can you take the MCAT
- Will retaking the MCAT hurt my application?
If you retake the MCAT only once, or even twice, and enhance your score each time, your chances of admission will not be affected. However, retaking the MCAT too frequently or scoring lower each time may hurt your application.
- On average, how many times do people retake the MCAT?
It is normal to take the MCAT more than once. After all, the exam is difficult, and we all have bad days. Simply make sure your score improves when you retake the exam.
- Should I Take the MCAT Again?
Retaking the MCAT may not be the best option if you already have a good MCAT score (for example, 514 or higher). While you can retake the MCAT, you risk receiving a lower score than on your first attempt. Examine the statistics of your preferred schools to determine whether retaking the MCAT is worthwhile.
- Is It Bad to Retake the MCAT Multiple Times?
Retaking the MCAT more than once isn’t necessarily bad if your score enhances each time. If your score declines with each attempt or remains unchanged, it will not help your med school application.
- How many times per year can I retake the MCAT?
You can give the MCAT up to 3 times a year. The test dates can be as far apart as you like, but you should allow yourself enough time to reevaluate your grade and study before retaking the exam.
- How Many MCAT Exams Can You Take?
You can give the MCAT up to 7 times in your lifetime. Although you can retake the MCAT as often as you want, you should aim for a perfect score on your first try.
- How Many MCAT Retakes Are Too Many?
Retaking the MCAT is not a cause for concern, and even three attempts may not affect your admissions decision, though we recommend doing your best on the first two tests.
Taking the MCAT multiple times (more than two or three times) can indicate that you haven’t grasped the material and may struggle with the rigorous instruction of the medical school.
- Do Medical Schools Mind If You Take the MCAT More Than Once?
While many students are concerned that taking the MCAT twice is bad, medical schools don’t mind, especially if you improve your score!
- How Long Do MCAT Scores Last?
Your MCAT results are kept in the system for up to three years. When you apply, you must be exactly three years old, not a month older. For example, a May 2019 MCAT exam is valid for a student applying to medical school in May 2022. Some schools may accept MCAT scores up to four years old, depending on the school, but don’t count on it.