Everyone hopes to only take the MCAT once, but what happens if you have to take it again?
After studying around the clock for months and sitting through a grueling 7+ hour exam, the last thing anyone wants to think about is re-taking the MCAT. However, retaking the test is an inevitability for some of us. Even so, we still wonder whether or not we are hurting our chances of acceptance by taking the test more than once. The answer is no! Of course, each medical school has its own policy regarding multiple MCAT scores, but taking the test over to improve your score will not harm your chances at most schools. Taking the MCAT again is only a good idea when you know your score doesn’t accurately reflect your ability.
Factors to Consider when Retaking the MCAT
- It is imperative that you improve your score, as most schools like to see a pattern of improvement with their applicants. You most certainly don’t want your score to decrease, so take as much time as you need to prepare. I really want to emphasize that it is important to prepare to retake the MCAT. Spend some time figuring out what your weakness was and start your prep there.
- Retakes typically won’t harm your chances of admission, but this is true only up to a certain number of attempts and that specific number varies from applicant to applicant. Three total attempts is usually the rule of thumb. This means that you should aim to take the MCAT no more than 3 times in your life (no pressure).
- You are only allowed to sit for the MCAT 3 times within a testing year, regardless of how many times you wish to take the test. For example, if you take the test 3 times in the 2016-2017 testing year, you have to wait until the spring 2017 administration to take it again.
- Most schools only consider MCAT scores from up to 3 years before you apply. So for a student who applies during the summer of 2016 for Fall 2017 admissions, the oldest score that most schools will take will be 2013 scores. Therefore, if the student took the exam before then, he or she would be required to take it again, no matter how stellar their old score was.
The most important thing to remember is that retaking the MCAT is not a death sentence. Many applicants choose to retake the exam and are still successful in gaining acceptances to their top-choice medical schools.