Although nearly every MCAT test taker hopes to receive acceptable test results, they may be unsure of the exact score they should aim for. Setting your sights too high can increase your anxiety and stress during study sessions, especially if you repeatedly miss your target score during practice exams. Meanwhile, if you aim too low, you might fall short of medical school admission requirements.
Target MCAT Scores
So, what is a good MCAT score? Test results fall on a scale of 472 to 528, and most people set their goal slightly above the average MCAT score of 500. However, there are several factors you need to consider before deciding on a target MCAT score. Some of the most important ones include:
- The scores required for the medical schools you're applying to
- Your MCAT percentile ranking
- Your current GPA
Best Scores for Medical Schools
Each medical school sets its own standards for what MCAT scores they're willing to accept. Earning a score between 505 and 509 might be suitable for getting into some schools. However, more selective institutions such as Ivy League colleges may only admit students who earn a 511 or higher.
Create a Personal MCAT Scoring Range
Check the admission requirements for the schools where you want to apply. Use the scoring standards from your top choice and your safety schools to create your own personal range of acceptable test results.
In addition to reviewing your scaled test results, which show how you performed on each section of the MCAT, medical schools may also check your percentile rankings. Your rank depicts how well you did on the exam compared to other test takers. Below, you'll find an example of the AAMC MCAT percentiles from the 2021–2022 testing year:
Data from May 2021 to April 2022
|Reported Score||Percentile||Reported Score||Percentile|
During this exam year, those who scored just one point above the average MCAT score of 500 landed in the 48th percentile, meaning they scored higher than 48% of the people taking the same exam. A good rule of thumb is to aim for an MCAT score that places you within or above the 50th percentile.
Select a Score in Your Preferred Percentile
As you can see, a one-point difference can affect your MCAT score rankings. While a 501 is above the average scaled score, it falls short of the 50th percentile. Landing in the 75th percentile with a score of 509 may improve your chances of getting into most medical schools. However, some institutions may prefer those whose rankings fall between 81% and 88%, with scores ranging from 511 to 514.
Grade Point Averages
While most people focus on their MCAT scores and percentile rankings during the medical school admission process, your GPA is also an important factor. Even if your MCAT score is a bit below the school's standard requirement of 509 to 511, many medical admission boards are willing to accept pre-med students who maintained a 3.5 GPA or better during their undergraduate program.
On the other hand, if you have a lower overall GPA, achieving a higher MCAT score between 511 and 514 may help you to compensate for it. You may also have a better chance of getting into medical school if your transcripts show high academic marks in upper-division courses, such as:
- Human anatomy and physiology
- Organic chemistry
Achieving Your Target MCAT Score
Once you settle on an MCAT score that meets your chosen school's requirements, places you in an above-average percentile, and complements or outshines your GPA, you can start studying for the MCAT with a specific goal in mind. Use Grad Prep's MCAT prep materials and mock exams to practice hitting your target score so you can be ready for test day.