Is the MCAT Important?

When applying to medical school, there are so many things that go into an application: GPAs, letters of recommendation, activities, MCAT, etc. It can be hard to understand what is truly important and where to invest your time and energy. In this post, we’ll try to answer the question, “is the MCAT important?”

Is the MCAT Important?

If you are planning to go to medical school, either allopathic or osteopathic, the short answer is: yes. The MCAT is the only part of the medical school application that is standardized. People go to different colleges which have widely varying difficulties in courses AND varying scales for grading. The MCAT helps medical schools compare applicants by using a metric that is the same no matter what your school, research, or personal experiences are.
The AAMC offers data that surveys 113 medical school admissions officers on what factors they felt was most important. For interview invites, the top three factors were all academic: cumulative science GPA, cumulative GPA, and the MCAT. The MCAT comes in third in importance, scoring a 3.5, which can be interpreted as in between “important” and “very important.” Academic performance, including the MCAT, is the single most important factor in getting an interview invite to medical schools. The MCAT is crucial in getting you an invite and deserves a lot of your time and energy.

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If you look closely at the data, you’ll see that after getting an interview, the academic factors actually fall in importance. In gaining admission to medical school after the interview, the interview and recommendation letters actually are more important than GPA or MCAT. What does this mean? That means that while academics are critical to get that interview invite, to get your foot in the door, it’s who you are and all that you’ve accomplished that will get you into medical school. So while you need to work hard in academics, all your activities and experiences will be what makes medical schools want you to enroll at their school.

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