The MCAT, The Average MCAT Score, And Medical School Admissions
The MCAT is one of the primary factors considered in medical school admissions decisions. This article discusses MCAT scoring and the average MCAT score. The test includes multiple-choice sections on the biological sciences, the physical sciences, and verbal reasoning, as well as two writing samples. The MCAT is administered by computer.
Each multiple-choice section is scored based on the number of questions answered correctly. Incorrect answers are scored the same as a blank answer, so there is no penalty for guessing. The raw numerical score for each multiple-choice section is converted to a 15-point scale. A raw score close to 50 points would approximately equate to a converted score of 15.
Each writing sample is read by two readers - one human and one computer - and the four scores are added together. That combined raw score is then assigned a letter grade between T (the highest score) and J (the lowest score).
The final score for the MCAT is therefore the combination of the three multiple-choice scores and the two writing samples. For example, a score might be reported as 30P.
Per the most recent statistics released by the Association of American Medical Colleges, the combined average score in 2009 was 25.1. The 2009 average scores for each multiple-choice section were: 8.7 for biological sciences, 8.3 for physical sciences, and 8.1 for verbal reasoning. The average scores for the writing samples are released as percentiles. The 25th percentage scored an M, the 50th percentile scored an O, and the 75th percentile scored a Q.
2008-2009 average MCAT scores (the average of the three multiple-choice sections) for the leading medical schools are as follows. Boston University - 10.7Q; Georgetown University - 10.3Q; Stanford University - 11.7Q; UCLA - 11Q; UC San Francisco - 11.7Q; University of Illinois - 10.3P; University of Michigan - 11.7Q; and Yale University - 11.7Q.
Students seeking to maximize their MCAT score are advised to spend adequate time studying the subjects covered. Many examinees take calculus, general chemistry, organic chemistry, biology, physics, and reading and writing courses as undergraduates. Having completed these courses, examinees generally have the necessary baseline knowledge to begin preparing for the MCAT.
Actually studying for the exam requires extensive additional practice, often through a specialized MCAT preparation program. These programs focus on refreshing and refining the examinee's subject-matter knowledge, as well as emphasizing test-taking strategies.
The MCAT is often weighed equally with an applicant's undergraduate GPA by medical school admissions committees. Other factors also considered include student leadership and community service experiences, personal statements, and letters of recommendation. These factors are compared against successful applicants and their average MCAT score.