Med School Admissions Statistics, Part II: What’s the Average MCAT?

October 4, 2012
Alex Macnow

If you’re like me, you spent last night watching the first Presidential debate of the 2012 election season.  Certainly with such big issues as healthcare and insurance reform on the table, we all as physicians-to-be have an important stake in this election.  Regardless of which side you’re on (or if you’re undecided!), statistics certainly play a crucial role in any presidential candidate’s platform.  With a shrewd mind, and our critical thinking skills, we can start to make sense of these statistics – and many others – that we face every day.

Two weeks ago, we took a look at one important statistic for the medical school application process:  “How many people get in?”  Today, we delve into one of the most common questions I hear as a Kaplan MCAT teacher:  “What’s the average MCAT score?”

We all know that the MCAT is a critical part of the admissions process.  As a study run by AAMC pointed out:  “MCAT scores … essentially replace[s] the need for uGPAs in their impressive prediction of Step scores … [and] performs well as an indicator of academic preparation for medical school, independent of the school-specific handicaps of uGPAs.”  In other words, the MCAT tells schools that you’re ready for the clinical decision-making necessary for taking care of patients.

That being said, AAMC releases statistics each year on the average MCAT score for applicants and matriculants.  These data show that the average MCAT has increased more than a whole point over the past decade, from 26.9 to 28.2.  Students are preparing more intensively for the MCAT, and it behooves us to be part of that group.  You can – and will! – succeed on Test Day with a strong foundation in the content and critical thinking indispensable to the MCAT.

What’s even more interesting to me is the average matriculant score in each section.  There are a few things to notice:

  • Biological Sciences (average for the last three years = 10.8) is routinely the strongest score for most matriculants.  This isn’t surprising, considering that we’re looking to do a career in a biologically-based field.  But it also means that we have to be proactive in strengthening that score – don’t forget the essentials of Organic Chemistry!
  • Verbal Reasoning is, in some ways, the most important section despite the fact it tends to be a matriculant’s lowest (average for the last three years = 9.8).  Why?  Well, you can’t rely on outside knowledge for Verbal Reasoning; it is strictly a critical thinking section.  These skills underlie making differential diagnoses and creating treatment plans – which is what medical school is all about!
  • Physical Sciences (average for the last three years = 10.4) just keeps climbing up.  With the role of technology becoming ever more present in medicine, an understanding of the physical world is increasing in importance.  The score in this section doesn’t show any sign of plateauing.

With this in mind, a solid preparation for this exam is key to our success in the admissions process.  What have you heard about MCAT scores and the admissions process?  Given all the mis-information out there, we’d love to answer your questions and clear up any confusion!

This article is Part II in a three-part series on Medical School Admissions Statistics.  For more information, check out:

Alex Macnow

Alex Macnow I graduated from Boston University with a BA in Musicology and am currently a fourth year in medical school at the University of Pennsylvania. I took Kaplan to prep for my MCAT. After such a great experience with my course, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to teach and tutor hundreds of pre-health students for the MCAT, DAT, OAT and PCAT in both our Boston – Haymarket and Philadelphia Kaplan Centers. I am one of the Content Managers for Kaplan's new MCAT 2015 course. When I’m not preparing for residency or teaching MCAT, I enjoy playing classical piano, exploring new cuisines and traveling on road trips.

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