The MCAT underwent a major revision in 2015. Along with changing and adding content, the MCAT scoring system also changed. This post will review the basics of how the new MCAT is scored. For a more thorough description of the scoring system, rationale, and interpretation, the AAMC has a lengthy and comprehensive guide.
Why did the MCAT change?
Healthcare and medicine are ever adapting and changing fields. The new MCAT is meant to keep up with the changes in both healthcare and in medical education. The expanded sections are meant to test a broader range of skills that test scientific knowledge, but also how to use that knowledge. The AAMC has a YouTube video summarizing the rationale for change. The New England Journal of Medicine, one of the top medical journals in the country, has a short article making a case for the new MCAT.
New MCAT Scoring Basics
There are now four sections to the MCAT (Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems; Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems; Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior; Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills). Each section is scored from 118 to 132, with an average of 125. Each individual section score is then added together to form the total score. The total score ranges from 472 to 528, with an average of 500. The graphic below from AAMC shows how the different sections add together to form a total score.
Photo by AAMC
Is the new MCAT scored completely differently from the old?
Yes and no. The scoring scale and added section make the numbers completely different. The new MCAT is still a standardized exam, however, and standardized exams are built on percentiles. The new MCAT will still have a percentile attached to each section and the total score. This percentile can help give you a better understanding of the score and compare it to the old scoring system. For more on how to interpret percentiles, see the post on MCAT percentiles.