how many times can you take the mcat

How many times can you take the MCAT?

So how many times can you take the MCAT? The MCAT is a standardized test that medical schools use to evaluate your entry into their program. It can be taken 7 times over your lifetime, and if you don’t get the score you want, it’s time for a career change, unfortunately.

Taking the MCAT more than once

Taking the MCAT more than once is not a bad thing, as long as you improve and prepare differently.

The MCAT can be taken four times in two years or three times in one year. If it’s too stressful to take the test that many times, consider taking it on a semester schedule-take the summer off and then retake in September when you’re back in school.

Talking about how many times you can take the MCAT is a great topic to discuss because it’s something that every pre-med student has wondered at some point or another. If you make sure that your preparations and self-confidence are stronger when taking the test, then you will be able to get better scores!

It only looks bad if you just continue to take the MCAT exam without any change in score.

If you aren’t happy with your score, this article goes into some great tips on how to improve your score and what I ultimately wish I did when prepping for the MCAT.

When I took the MCAT, I was honestly terrible at prepping for those kinds of exams.

Then, medical school happened and I absolutely destroyed the USMLE and COMLEX, which are board exams in medical school and are the reason the MCAT is even a part of medical schools admissions.

Read on to learn more about the medical college admission test or MCAT and the details of having multiple MCAT scores.

MCAT Score and Medical School Admissions

These two things are not directly correlated, but the MCAT is how medical schools compare you to other students.

If your scores aren’t as high as they should be it will make admissions committees more hesitant about letting you in-even if you have a perfect GPA and extracurricular activities.

The MCAT score counts for 15% of how you are evaluated for medical school admissions in general.

You need to show how well you can think critically, how knowledgeable in science and math you are, how your writing skills stand up next to others applying-and how much time it actually takes for someone who’s taking the test a seventh time (most people don’t even take the exam that many times).

The truth is that this exam isn’t a perfect tool to see how well you will do in medical school or even on board exams.

how many times can you take the mcat

I didn’t have a great MCAT score, which is why I think I am uniquely qualified to write an article about what I wish I did.

You see, after my poor MCAT performance (TWICE) I got into medical school and absolutely owned med school.

I learned the important ways to prepare for big tests (I scored in the 97th percentile on COMLEX) and I believe that my method can be used on the MCAT as well, and help you reduce the chance that you have to retake the MCAT.

Medical Schools preference…Generally

Most medical schools prefer that you take the MCAT in your Junior year, and the prefer you take it no more than 3 times!

If there is one thing I have to say about taking this test it’s that preparation is key!

I’m not saying studying for hours on end or doing things that are not in your interest, but it is how you prepare for the MCAT that will determine how well you do.

Having multiple mcat scores isn’t a bad thing but really you are trying to get into medical school so knowing what the medical school admissions committees want is so key to your overall success.

A good target would be to try not to take the MCAT more than 3 times, but taking it twice should be the real goal.

How many times can you take the MCAT before it looks bad

You should really try not to take the MCAT more than three times- seven is too many and you want to show how well your studies are going.

The best way to think about how many times can you retake the MCAT, is to think about how many times you SHOULD retake the MCAT, and what message that will send to medical schools you are going to apply to.

It’s really up to yourself, but some people might take it a few more times if they know that their score is going to be really high and they want the medical school admissions committee to know how strong their science skills are.

I think that taking it more than three times, will make you seem like someone who either doesn’t take the exam serious and you lack in your prep, which is a red flag. Or, it can really show your lack of test taking skills, which part of becoming a doctor and going to medical school is taking multiple exams!

So, my rule of thumb when pre-meds ask me since I took the exam twice is:

  • -If you know you will prepare differently and better, then go for it.
  • -If you are taking it for the 4th time, then start to come up with a back up plan, for your life career.

Do schools see a single score or do they see multiple MCAT scores

Schools can see how many times you have taken the MCAT, and what your scores were.

It is common misconception that medical schools will only be able to see the highest scores from each section.

Truth is that they might see how many times you have taken the MCAT, and they may or may not look at the highest score from each section.

They may only see that you have taken it a ton of times and be turned off.

The other option is that you improve your score each time, and this shows that you can do better with extra attempts and that you learned from your mistakes, which is helpful to you.

I think that if I were a medical school admissions committee member and someone came in with seven scores from the same section, I would be wary because they might not show how good their critical thinking skills are on this exam!

Also, once you take the examine for your third time around it becomes cheaper and easier to retake so there is less incentive (which makes sense)

The message here is- make sure you understand what taking multiple exams can do to your application before your go through with too much effort.

In summary, medical schools can see how many times you have taken the MCAT and what your scores are. They may or may not only look at the highest score from each section.

How to get the highest score the first time

Preparing for the MCAT is key to success!

It’s important that you take practice tests and study the content. You also want to create a target score for yourself, and try not take it more than three times if possible.

The best way to get the highest score on this exam is by understanding what medical schools want from their applicants. They only want people who can think critically so take time preparing with practice test questions (and simulate real life experience) before coming on as an applicant. Your goal should be getting one of the higher scores on each section because no matter what, they will take a look at that and it might give you an edge.

Also, take practice tests for each section to get your target score because there are certain sections which are more difficult than others- these scores can bounce up or down with different practice test questions so be aware of this when preparing!

Having a goal score for each section is so important, it gives you something to look forward to.

If you want to score a 130 on a given section and your practice test scores are consistently below this then that means you need to keep studying that topic.

It is so key to use:

  • -Question banks
  • -Practice tests
  • -Prep video’s
  • -Exam Outlines

These are all of the things I had at my disposal on my board exams that I scored >97th percentile on in medical school, and I didn’t do any of this for my MCAT prep.

The great thing about this is that prep courses like Magoosh do all that for you.

Check out their course information page here.

I absolutely recommend that you try an MCAT prep course, because they have all the important things laid out for you.

I wish I would have done that, even though they cost a decent amount of money, it would have been worth it as opposed to taking the exam twice.

Come up with a target score

Having a target score is key in achieving the best score.

For example, if you take a practice test and get all 119’s on your MCAT sections then it might be worth looking into what prep course would work for you because they can help with this process- which is something I wish I had done!

The target score is the goal you have for each section.

If your practice scores are consistently lower than that, take a look at what it might take to get where you want to be (i.e., more studying).

Here’s an example of how this can work:

Once you understood the reasoning behind your low average score in a section then take the time to prepare for it.

This is how I did it in medical school, but never really did it for the MCAT, and hence the two takes.

A study plan can improve your score by alot (although they’re not perfect!). The key here is understanding why some sections might have tripped you up. Then identifying the topics you are weak in.

Also, take practice tests so that you know where each section stands (i.e., which one will be a problem). Use question banks and outlines as well because these are all resources that helped me get higher scores on just about every board exam I’ve taken!

As a final note, take the MCAT when you have enough time to prepare because you want it to be your top priority!

I never really prepared for it and it showed. I prepared like crazy for exams in medical school and it made all the difference!

The important detail though is that I prepared the right way for the exams in med school.

How to know you should retake the MCAT

If you get your MCAT score back and it is nowhere near what you wanted, and it is nowhere near what will get you into medical school then by all means plan to retake the mcat.

If you scored above the 50th percentile, but it isn’t what you “hoped for” you shouldn’t retake it unless you are certain you can drastically improve your score.

If you didn’t really prep before and you still score decent, but you are confident that with some prep from a course like Magoosh that you can score higher, then by all means retake the mcat.

The only trick is that if it is your 4th or 5th time taking it, I would avoid trying to retake it again.

This is because it take a lot of time and energy – not to mention the money, and the chances of getting accepted into med school is going to be much lower the more and more you take the exam.

Should you use a prep course

Prep courses like Magoosh are a great way to take the pressure off, and it really is worth the money.

It gives you all of these resources that I didn’t use, but definately should have been using during that time.

  • -Question banks
  • -Practice tests
  • -Exam outlines

If you aren’t interested in Magoosh, there are a ton of other prep courses out there form companies like Kaplan, Princeton Review, or honestly your college might have a MCAT prep course available to you.

The nice thing about prep courses is that they take the pressure off by giving you all of these resources so you are not scrambling for what to do.

I don’t know why I waited until medical school to take a prep course, because it was worth every penny and would have saved me time on studying if I had taken one during undergrad.

However, take a look at what the company offers and see if it is a good fit for you. It’s worth looking into!

If your target score isn’t met on the practice tests you are doing, then by all means take a look at your study plan and take the time to get those scores up.

This is how I did it in medical school, but never really did it for the MCAT, and hence the two takes..

The key here is understanding why some sections might have tripped you up. Then identifying the topics you are weak in.

Best MCAT Prep Course

I personally feel like Magoosh is the best MCAT prep course that I have seen.

It’s worth looking into! If you take a look at what they offer then go to their website and see how it compares to other companies, then decide if they are right for you.

You can also consider Kaplan or Princeton review.

Magoosh is nice because it offers videos for learning, practice questions, and practice tests.

Those are the main components that you should focus on when putting together the resources for your MCAT.


 We’ve all been there – you think, I can do this. And then the next day, when it comes to taking that MCAT exam again, your confidence is gone and panic sets in. It happens! So how many times should one take the MCAT? Yes, it’s important to know what’s allowed by each school so you don’t waste time or money retaking something that won’t be counted; but more importantly than knowing how many times a student may retake an examination is figuring out how often they need to work on their weaknesses before applying for medical schools. What concerns do you have about the MCAT? Let us know in the Comments.

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