How To Explain Low MCAT Scores

You’ve probably had people tell you “The MCAT isn’t everything,” when it comes to medical school admissions. But I think we can all agree that even though it’s not everything, it’s definitely important. In fact, your MCAT score is one of the most important criteria that medical schools look at when deciding an applicant’s fate. With so much of your future dependent on this one test score, it can be devastating when you receive your MCAT score report and find that your score isn’t competitive.

As disappointed as they are, many students don’t let low MCAT scores single-handedly determine their futures, though. Instead, they choose to explain their low MCAT scores to admissions committees. Fortunately, when it comes to medical school admissions, one size does not fit all. Ideally, all grades and test scores would accurately reflect your intellectual ability, but realistically, most students have something on their application that they wish they could beef up. So, if your MCAT score is less than stellar, taking charge of your narrative and explaining your scores could help admissions committees see beyond your blemish.

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What To Say To Explain Low MCAT Scores

How to explain low MCAT scores

The most important thing to know about explaining your MCAT score is that most schools don’t appreciate when applicants make excuses. For example, instead of saying, “I could have gotten a good score if my orgo teacher was better,” you could say, “My MCAT score doesn’t accurately reflect my ability and passion for medicine in the same way that my clinical experiences do.” The first example places blame on someone other than the applicant for a low score, while the second example demonstrates that the applicant knows their score doesn’t reflect his or her ability, but their clinical experience does.

What’s the moral of the story? Make a nod, and move on. You aren’t required to belabor the point. Admissions committees already know you got a low score, but they are more concerned with identifying the best candidates for medical school. If you can show them that you are a great candidate, despite your MCAT score, then you have a better shot at scoring an interview.

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It’s important to remember that while standardized tests are important, they only reveal a snap shot of our abilities at one moment in time. And, if we’re honest, most applicants would choose a different moment in time to shine the spotlight on. Explaining a low MCAT score will be an ongoing mission throughout the admissions process, but it all starts with using your voice on your primary application to show schools why your low score doesn’t matter.


  • April

    April is a newly accepted medical student who is passionate about passing the torch to up-and-coming pre-meds who are navigating the MCAT and med school admissions. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Clark Atlanta University and master’s degree in interdisciplinary health sciences from Drexel University College of Medicine. She loves magazines, audiobooks, kid and teen TV, and everything beauty!

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