MCATPre-Med Academics

Should I Retake the MCAT?

In this article, I provide multiple “case studies” in which we can determine whether the example applicant should retake the MCAT. There are an endless number of possibilities but I tried to cover most scenarios. Keep in mind that although this information is backed with research and knowledge about the application process, it is only my opinion.

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Note: All scenarios assume that the potential applicant is not an underrepresented minority. It is also assumed that all applicants have sufficient extracurricular activities needed for admissions. Each MCAT statistic is based off of each school’s incoming matriculants.

Example 1: John

GPA: 3.75

MCAT: 506

State: CA

Goal: Wants to be competitive at state MD schools but willing to go out of state.

Verdict: Retake

Reason: The UC’s are notorious for being difficult to get into mainly because of the sheer number of applicants. The only school in California that has a median MCAT of 505 is Loma Linda. Every other school’s median MCAT is at least 509. John’s 506 is also still relatively low for out of state medical schools. The safe bet would be to retake the MCAT and try to get at least a 509 with a balanced sub score.

Example 2: Paul

GPA: 3.6

MCAT: 510

State: MA

Goal: Wants to go to a top 25 US News ranking research school

Verdict: Retake

Reason: The 25th rank medical school based on US News research ranking is University of Virginia. Their median MCAT is 515. Most applicants that get into top 25 schools average a 3.8 GPA and 514 MCAT. Paul’s MCAT and GPA are well below average for these schools. He should retake the MCAT and try to score 518 on his MCAT to make up for his lower GPA.

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Example 3: Mary

GPA: 3.72

MCAT: 510

State: FL

Goal: Get into any US MD school

Verdict: Don’t retake

Reason: If Mary wants to get into any medical school in the US, she will need to apply broadly with a polished personal statement and secondary essays. 59 schools nationwide have 510 as their matriculant median MCAT. Her MCAT is also balanced which is favorable. Also, Florida has 7 schools that are not extremely competitive, many of which give preference to Florida residents.

Example 4: Ruth

GPA: 3.6

MCAT: 501

State: WA

Goal: Any US MD/DO school

Verdict: Don’t retake

Reason: Ruth with a 3.6 GPA and 501 MCAT is an extremely competitive applicant for DO schools. She has a small chance at some MD schools depending on how she applies.

Example 5: Thomas

GPA: 3.7

MCAT: 515

State: IL

Goal: Mid to top tier MD schools

Verdict: Don’t retake

Reason: Thomas has a well-balanced MCAT score that is above the national average of medical school matriculants. Most mid tier schools have a median MCAT of 515-518. Although he is below average statistically at most top tier schools, he still remains competitive at some schools, depending on his essay writing and interview skills.

Example 6: James

GPA: 3.5

MCAT: 500

State: NY

Goal: Any US MD/DO school

Verdict: Retake

Reason: Statistically James is well below average for MD schools. The average GPA and MCAT for DO matriculants is 3.5 and 500. It would be wise for James to try to bring his MCAT up to at least 500.

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Example 7: Edgar

GPA: 3.95

MCAT: 500

State: NY

Goal: Any US MD school

Verdict: Retake

Reason: This is a tough situation. New York has some schools that give moderate preference to NY residents. However, having a 500 or 505 would definitely grant more assurance especially coupled with his high GPA, Edgar is at least statistically average at many MD schools. If he is able to get at least a 502, he should probably apply to close to 30 schools.

Example 8: Andrew

GPA: 3.9

MCAT: 510

State: Texas

Goal: Mid to top tier schools, prefers in state (UT Houston or Baylor)

Verdict: Don’t retake

Reason: Many schools have sub scores screens, meaning that if an applicant has one sub score that is too low, he or she will automatically be rejected. Nevertheless, if Andrew can demonstrate decent communication skills through letters of recommendation from humanities professors or an improved writing score, he should remain competitive for most mid tier schools. Top tier schools will be less inclined to grant him admission.

Edward Chang

Edward Chang is the Co-founder and Director of Operations of He graduated from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and is currently a urology resident at the University of Washington. He also attended UCLA as an undergraduate, graduating with a major in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology. If you are interested in contributing to, please contact him at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @EdwardChangMD and Prospective Doctor @ProspectiveDr.

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