MCAT Score Percentiles: Complete Guide

MCAT Score Percentiles: Complete Guide

Your performance in the Medical College Admission Test will determine whether you get into med school. Having the required GPA is not enough. You’ll need to rank high enough on the MCAT score percentiles to get to your dream school.

Understanding how these percentiles work will help you know what numbers you need to hit by accurately comparing your results with those of other test-takers.

In this post, we’ll provide details of everything you should know about MCAT score percentiles, including the latest ranking chart. We’ll also reveal the score you may need to get into medical school in the US.

What are MCAT Score Percentiles?

An MCAT score percentile is a rank that represents how high your total score is compared to other people who took the test in the last three years.

The metric shows what percentage of test-takers’ scores were equal to or less than the specific score on a result.

For example, using the latest percentile rankings, a total MCAT score of 503 falls in the 52nd percentile. This means 52% of the overall test-takers in the previous three years scored equal to or below 503.

Percentile rank ranges from below 1% to 100%. The higher your percentile, the better you performed and the greater your chances of getting accepted into medical school.

Using data from multiple years instead of a single year ensures the standard for ranking MCAT scores doesn’t over-fluctuate. So, while the percentiles are updated on the 1st of May every year, you can use the previous rankings to determine what scores you need to get for the next exam.

How MCAT Percentile Ranking Works

It’s impossible to create your own percentile ranking because you don’t have access to the data of other exam takers. Thankfully, the Association of American Medical Colleges has done all that legwork on the back end.

According to the AAMC, over 85,000 participants take the exam each year. That means the latest MCAT score percentile rankings use data from 255,000+ test-takers (85k X 3).

Your only job is to understand how MCAT scoring works and how they came about these numbers. Below are the building blocks of MCAT percentiles.

MCAT Section Scores:

The exam has four sections:

  1. Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  2. Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  3. Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
  4. Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

The number of questions you answer correctly in each section will form your raw score.

MCAT Scaled Scores:

The MCAT is a scaled exam, which means all questions don’t carry the same weight. Some will give you more value than others. Your scaled score for each section will determine where you fall within the score range of 118 to 132.

NOTE:

You’ll get four scaled scores – one for each of the four sections of the exam.

MCAT Total Score

Your final score, which will reflect prominently in your result, is the sum of all four of your scaled section scores.

This means it has a MCAT score range of 472 to 528.

Total Score Percentile

For every possible score within the 472-528 range, the association examiners will determine the percentage of people who scored up to or less than that number in the last three years by using a formula similar to this:

(Number of Test-Takers Scoring Equal to or Less Than / Total Number of Test-Takers) X 100%

Since US educational institutions have limited resources that allow them to only admit a specific number of students, your percentile rank is more crucial than your actual score.

This is not to say that the total score is useless. It can be an indicator of how well you need to perform to surpass the majority of other test-takers. Since the rankings change annually, you can only estimate where you’ll fall.

Section Score Percentile

The exam organizers also provide percentile rankings for each section. Although all medical schools will consider your total score, most of them will have a minimum acceptable percentile for each section.

Your section score percentile works in the same way as the total score percentile. The calculation formula is also the same.

Latest MCAT Score Percentile Rankings

Below is a chart that displays a compact version of the latest MCAT total score percentile rankings, which was released on the 1st of May, 2021. It uses data from every MCAT exam in the years 2018, 2019, and 2020.

Total ScorePercentile
472-475Less than 1
476-4861-9
487-49111-19
492-49521-29
496-49832-38
499-50142-48
502-50452-58
505-50762-69
508-51072-78
511-51481-88
515-52390-99
524-528100

If you have practice questions from past exams, the above chart will be double in value. You can answer the questions as a mock test and then compare your final score with the percentile rankings. This will reveal your current level of preparation. Be sure to make adjustments where needed.

Another way to use this chart is if you already have an idea of the lowest MCAT score accepted by your dream school. By comparing their cut-off scores with the percentile ranks, you can tell what percentage of students were unable to meet those criteria in previous years.

The lower the cut-off percentile, the better your chances of getting in.

What is a Good Percentile for MCAT?

The MCAT has no pass score, and whether or not a result is good depends on the admitting educational institution.

Currently, a good MCAT percentile score would be 81 or higher. This percentile corresponds with a 511 total score, according to the latest rankings. Test-takers who scored equal to or higher than 511 gained admission into various medical schools in the United States.

So, if you can reach or surpass the 81st percentile, you have a great chance to make it into most medical schools. The next section will reveal more about acceptance rates and MCAT scores.

In essence, what constitutes a good score for a medical school is highly subjective. For some, average MCAT scores are sufficient.

The average MCAT score in the US is 501 (the 50th percentile). Few medical schools will accept this score, but enough of them would, thereby allowing you to kickstart your career in medicine.

What if you plan to attend an Ivy League med school? Would a “good” score be enough? Probably, but to maximize your chances, you need higher MCAT scores.

Getting a high MCAT score would mean hitting 518 (the 95th percentile). This is 10 points shy of the highest MCAT score possible, but it will set anyone apart from most of the other test-takers. If you can achieve such a feat, it will be extremely unlikely that any top medical school will reject you.

Medical School Acceptance Rates

Please note that your MCAT scores are not the only criteria med schools will consider before offering you admission. There are several other points of deliberation, especially the following:

  • GPA:

Your grade point average is just as important as your MCAT score, if not more. Schools like to focus on both sets of grading to get a better sense of your academic capabilities.

  • Undergrad Courses:

You already know that med schools require you to earn a degree. However, your coursework has to meet the prerequisites of your school of choice. Each school has its own set of prerequisites, but common courses include Biology, English, and Chemistry.

  • Recommendations:

The validity and content of your letters of recommendation also matter. If your sources are reputable medical professionals who list enough impressive achievements, you stand a better chance of admission.

  • Medical Practice Experience:

It also helps if you have some experience in the medical field, such as volunteer work.

  • Personal Claims:

Your personal statements in your application and during your interview could impact your chances. For instance, if you overcame some real adversity, the board may look kindly on your MCAT scores and GPA even when they’re lower than the requirement.

  • Extracurricular Activities:

What you can do outside medicine will show that you have more value to offer the University. Hence, being an athlete in sports like soccer, basketball, football, and track and field can only strengthen your case.

  • Interview:

Your performance in the interview could swing things your way if the school was on the fence about whether to grant you admission.

Bearing in mind that a high GPA and MCAT score is no guarantee of admission into any American school, here is a list of their average acceptance rates (in percent) based on total scores on the MCAT:

MCAT ScoreAcceptance (%)
472-4860.5
486-4891.1
490-4933.2
494-49710
498-50120
502-50532
506-50946.4
510-51361.4
514-51772.8
518-52882.5

Frequently Asked Questions

Is 513 a good MCAT score?

Yes, 513 is a good score on your MCAT. It places you in the 86th percentile, which is more than enough to get you into most universities.

Can I get into med school with a 508 MCAT?

You can get into medical school with a 508 on your MCAT. 46.4% of people who score between 506 and 509 gain admission into American med schools.

What is a 100th percentile MCAT?

A 100th percentile score indicates that nearly nobody in the last three years scored more than that number. 100% of over 255,000 participants got an equal or lower MCAT score than that number, which is typically 524 to 528.

Conclusion

Your GPA and MCAT score percentile are vital to your venture into medical school. Create a list of med schools you would like to attend and find the MCAT and GPA requirements for each. If your GPA falls short, you may need to score higher on your MCAT to make up for the deficit. 

Ashu Vikhe

Author at OnlineCourseing

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