Along with an added section and its heavy focus on biochemistry, the new MCAT also has a new scoring system that is different in some key ways. In this post, I’ll walk you through the basics of how the new MCAT score conversion relates to old scores. I did the number crunching for you, because you have more important, exciting things to do, like memorizing amino acid codes and reaction tendencies, right? I’ll be quick, but first let’s anchor some terms:
Your MCAT Raw Score: The number of questions you answered correctly, which could hypothetically be as high as 230, since that’s how many questions are on the new MCAT.
Your MCAT Percentile: The percentage of students whose raw scores were lower than yours on a specific test.
Old MCAT Scaled Score: A number between 3-45, wherein students in the 50th percentile received a score of approximately 25.
New MCAT Scaled Score: A number between 472-528, with a 50th percentile score that hovers around 500.
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New MCAT Score Conversion Basics
A rundown of the MCAT scoring system is covered in more depth in the “How the New MCAT is Scored” post, but here’s the quick version: The old MCAT had three sections of multiple choice and a writing section, with the score in each multiple choice section ranging from 1 to 15 for a total score of 3 to 45. The new MCAT has four sections, each ranging from 118 to 132 with a median of 124-125 per section. Officially, the AAMC says that direct comparisons between the old scores and new scores are “impossible.” Why the massive overhaul? The new test is meant to cover a broader range of material and better equip medical schools with ways of more completely assessing applicants.
Can I convert MCAT scores?
Yes! We’ve put together a handy conversion table for you to use to go back and forth between new and old MCAT scores.
|Old MCAT Score||New MCAT Score||Percentile|
|7 (or less)||475 (or less)||0|
The AAMC provides no official means of converting the scores between the two systems. However, both the old MCAT and the new MCAT are still standardized exams. As standardized exams, they have percentiles, so the scores can be converted, albeit roughly, by using the percentiles. Medical schools will also be using percentiles to assess applicants. The AAMC has released final percentiles and score correlations for both the old MCAT and the new MCAT (May 2016-April 2017). We can see that the 50th percentiles for the old and new MCAT were about 25 and 500, respectively. This means that a 25 in the old scoring system would be roughly 500 in the new scoring system. The 99th percentile for the old and the new are 38 and 521, respectively. If you want to study the nitty gritty mechanics of how the AAMC calculates and conceptualizes its scoring system, knock yourself out with this 36-paged pdf! Just don’t use it as a procrastination device. That’s something I’d probably do, but then again, I’m unusually fascinated by numbers. Anyway, the point is that by using percentiles on these two charts, you can convert your scores between the two systems.
Other resources for converting scores
There are numerous other websites that have charts or calculators that can (again, roughly) convert the scores. As the new scoring system becomes the new norm, the need for conversion will disappear. For the 2018 admission cycle, which opened May 1, 2017, about 55% of medical schools (yes, I went through this document and counted) will accept scores from the old and new MCAT. Some schools have adopted a policy of accepting any MCAT scores that were taken within the 3 years prior to admission, regardless of the version. Therefore, having an understanding of how the two types of scores compare can be useful. Maybe you’re reading this post to see how your score on the new MCAT compares with that of the brother/sister/boyfriend/girlfriend/cousin who took the version prior to 2015, who knows? I do know that a portion of you are looking for study resources for the MCAT or are considering retaking it, so consider checking out Magoosh’s MCAT course to help prepare. We offer 300 video lessons and over 700 questions, which can be taken as practice tests or split up for review. Plus, you have email access to MCAT experts as part of your subscription.
Kat Thomson is the Magoosh MCAT curriculum manager and has a PhD in medical sociology from UC San Francisco. This blog post also contains contributions from Burton Shen, who recently finished his residency and now practices internal medicine and pediatrics.