No one would question that good physicians need to know their science. However, do students need to be science majors to go to medical school? The answer is no! There are plenty of doctors that studied different subjects in college. This is actually becoming more common as the number of career changers increases. You might ask though, is there a correlation between major and MCAT score? This is a good question. The MCAT does test a lot of scientific concepts but there is also a verbal reasoning section (now renamed as the critical analysis and reading skills (CARS) section on the new MCAT) on the exam. As it turns out, there is a correlation but it might not be what you expected.
Major and MCAT Score
In the table below, you can see the average MCAT scores of applicants and matriculants to medical school by undergraduate major for the 2015-2016 application cycle. As expected, the average MCAT score for matriculants is higher than that of all applicants.
Table from AAMC (VR = Verbal Reasoning, PS = Physical Sciences, BS = Biological Sciences)
It may not come as a surprise that more than half of all applicants to medical school majored in the biological sciences. There is a lot of biology in medicine after all. Humanities, on the other hand, doesn’t involve the same scientific knowledge (although students still have to take the basic prerequisite courses to apply for medical school). As a result, students often think that humanities majors are at a disadvantage when it comes to the science topics on the MCAT. When you compare the MCAT scores between humanities majors and biological sciences majors, you can see that is not the case. Humanities majors do just as well if not better on the science sections of the exam. In addition, humanities majors also have a higher average verbal reasoning score.
Does Your Major Matter?
While this table may suggest that there is a correlation between major and MCAT score, there is more to this than just numbers. First of all, this table only includes data for applicants and matriculants. There is no information provided for all of the test takers. It may be possible that a bunch of humanities major do poorly on the exam and just choose not to apply. Second, medical school admissions committees are very clear that students can apply with any major. In fact, choosing a non-science major can make you stand out as an applicant. Finally, college is a time for you to explore your own personal interests. You don’t want to choose a major that will make you miserable for four years. If you have a passion for a certain field of study, you should pursue it.
Hopefully you now understand that your choice of major doesn’t really matter. However, you still need a good MCAT score to get into medical school. So as you begin your MCAT prep, make sure to read the Top Tips for MCAT studying!