Should I retake the MCAT?

A friend and advisor once told me regarding standardized exams that one should “do it once, and do it right.” In an ideal world, you would hit your MCAT score target on one try and be extremely happy with how you did. This is unfortunately not the case for everyone. Sometimes, people bomb the MCAT and do much worse than they ever thought they would. Sometimes, people just miss their goal score by one point. In many of these situations, test-takers are wondering, “should I retake the MCAT?”

Should I retake the MCAT?

When addressing this question, there are two questions to answer honestly about yourself and your performance.

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Can you improve significantly? If you are planning to retake the MCAT, you should feel fairly confident that you can improve significantly. The definition of significantly is a bit grey, but it certainly does not mean just one point. The MCAT takes a lot of time, emotional energy, and money. If you are planning to invest all of that again, it should be for a worthwhile improvement. Perhaps you were ill the day of your exam and know that you can do a lot better. Perhaps you know you did not study to the best of your potential. If this is the case, taking the MCAT again and getting a significantly better score will be to your advantage. Make sure you don’t take the MCAT again and get the same score or—even worse—score lower.

Are you in a good position already? We discussed the merits of getting a perfect score in a previous post. The bottom line is that if you already have a high score that just didn’t happen to reach a goal you set for yourself, it may not be worth it to take it again. Perhaps your goal for a score was a perfect 528. If you got a 527, it’s my humble opinion that you do not retake the exam. “What is a good MCAT score?” talks about some score milestones you can use to assess your performance.

Retaking the MCAT is not always a bad thing. However, as my advisor said to me, it is something that is best done once and done right. You can set yourself up for success and do well on your first try by following some good strategies and having a solid study plan.

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