After weeks of patiently waiting, you finally receive your MCAT score, only to realize that it’s much lower than you’d hoped. In this situation, you have several options. First, take some time to think. It’s not a good idea to make a decision immediately after receiving your score. Give it some time. Identify and consider all of your options. Research more thoroughly those that appeal to you. It’s helpful to collect as much information as you can to make the best decision for your individual circumstances.
With a low MCAT score you have the following options:
1. You can retake the exam. If your score is too low to be considered competitive, it may simply be best to retake the exam. Learn from your previous experience. What went well? What did not go well? What can you do to make sure that you are able to prepare more effectively and take the exam with success? Most students know the answers to these questions. If you’re having difficulty identifying how to move forward, I recommend seeking out more guidance. If you struggle with standardized exams in general, taking more practice tests can help you come up with a better strategy.
2. Apply with a low MCAT score, if you have a competitive science and cumulative GPA. If your GPA is high enough, you may still be a competitive applicant even with a lower MCAT score. If your GPA fits within the range of most medical schools and your MCAT is just out of range, it would probably be safe for you to apply. Medical schools do not reveal the full range of the scores that they accept. You only see their averages. Sometimes, these averages are inflated since schools compete with each other. For example, Harvard wants to claim a higher average than Yale, and so on and so forth. Do not be discouraged by the numbers that the schools report.
3. Apply to postbac programs that offer MCAT prep. If you are feeling really lost and not sure how to proceed, you may want to consider applying to postbac programs that offer MCAT support. If you have a GPA that is in the lower range and an MCAT score that is less competitive, a postbac program may be the best option for you. In addition to taking a year or more of coursework to improve your GPA, multiple-focus postbac programs also offer a summer program that is focused on MCAT preparation. If you are from a disadvantaged background, there are programs designed just for you. With more support, many students are able to surpass even their own expectations. (Please see The Unbelievable Story of an Orthopedic Surgeon.)
For more assistance, you are welcome to contact my colleagues or me. I have extensive experience in advising students who are applying with low MCAT scores. I would be delighted to assist you. For now, I wish you success!