Getting a 508 on the MCAT usually brings a lot of questions. Is it a good score? Is it bad? Should you retake?
This can be incredibly stressful and cause a great deal of confusion. And oftentimes, students who get a 508 on the MCAT make bad follow-up decisions because of it.
But don’t panic.
This guide will help you figure out if a 508 is a good MCAT score (it’s all situational) and decide what to do next.
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Is A 508 Good MCAT Score?
As a medical school hopeful, you’ve likely spent a lot of time preparing for the MCAT. The test is one of many qualifiers that medical schools use to accept or reject students. Because of this, it’s important for prospective students to spend a serious amount of time getting ready for test day.
While adequate preparation is key to being successful with the MCAT, it’s also a double-edged sword. Students stress out about the MCAT so much that final scores often bring more questions instead of a sense of relief.
So let’s say after all that hard work, your final MCAT score is 508. Is that considered a “good” score or not?
A 508 is a decent score. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, this score puts you in the 74 percentile for the 2019 and 2020 academic year.
But is it good enough to get you into medical school, or should you retake it? Read on to find out.
How To Decide If You Should Retake Or Not
There’s no clear-cut answer on whether or not you should retake if you got a 508 on the MCAT. The right decision for you is situational and will depend on several factors.
A score of 508 is a bit lower than the mean total MCAT score of matriculants in 2019-2020 (which is 511.5). However, 508 is well within the standard deviation range.
To make things seem even more complicated, a score of 508 is higher than the average MCAT score of all applicants, which was 506.1.
So where do you go from here?
To determine if a retake is necessary, you need to analyze your goals and figure out where you stand against your current applicant pool.
The truth is that a score of 508 can go either way depending on a number of other factors. Med schools typically take a holistic approach when gauging a student’s potential, and your MCAT score is only a piece of the puzzle.
There’s also a big difference between getting into your ideal medical school and getting into any school. To decide whether or not you should retake the MCAT, consider the following factors.
1. Your GPA
There’s no denying that the MCAT plays a big role in admissions decisions. But, it’s not the only qualifier. Another important data point schools look into is your GPA.
Schools want to know that you’re ready for the course load ahead. If you display good academic prowess during your undergraduate educations, schools are going to be more inclined to accept you.
Take a look at admissions requirements for the schools you’re interested in attending. You can get this information from the school directly or through AAMC.
Now, see where you stand.
The mean GPA for matriculants is roughly 3.58. In most cases, schools will hold more weight towards your science GPA. While anything above a 3.5 is good for prospective medical students, that doesn’t mean that you’re guaranteed an acceptance!
As an example, let’s say that you have a GPA that’s on the lower end of the spectrum.
Maybe you struggled a bit during your undergraduate years and came out with a GPA of 3.6. When you apply to medical schools, you’re presenting a relatively low GPA with an average MCAT score.
In this case, you might want to consider retaking the MCAT. Your score of 508 is not going to do you any favors because it’s not high enough to make up for a low GPA. Your credentials are probably decent enough to get you into a school, but it’s likely not good enough to get you into a choice school.
Now, let’s look at another scenario. You finished your undergraduate studies with a 3.9 GPA. Now, your application is starting to look a lot more enticing!
An MCAT score of 508 in this situation isn’t anything spectacular. However, your GPA shows that you’re more than ready for the rigors of medical school.
There are no guarantees, but admissions panels will always show more interest in your application with a higher GPA.
2. State Of Residency
What does your state of residency have to do with your MCAT score? It all comes down to competition.
You see, schools generally favor in-state students. Schools do this to support the state’s healthcare system. If you spent all of your life in the same state, there’s a good chance that you’re going to stick around after graduation. That’s why in-state students generally have different tuition costs as well.
Quick Note: It’s worth pointing out that this isn’t always the case. Most institutes accept out-of-state and international students, and some schools are so competitive that state of residency doesn’t factor into the admissions process at all!
Chances are, you’re already looking into applying to schools within your state. Consider how many schools your state has. Are there several medical schools to choose from or are you limited to one or two?
States like California, New York, and Texas have a lot of schools. Thus, there are more seats. This decreases competition and makes an MCAT score of 508 a bit more realistic if you’re not picky about your school of choice.
Meanwhile, states with one or two medical schools have limited seats. In that case, you might be competing with more applicants.
Take a look at AAMC data to get a better idea of what to expect in terms of competition. The average MCAT score varies across the nation.
For example, the mean score for matriculants in Massachusetts is 514.5. In Mississippi, it’s 503.8! Use this data and the availability of seats in your state to decide if retaking the MCAT is a smart move.
3. Your Target Schools
Another thing to consider is the overall competitiveness of the schools you’re interested in. Is your goal to get into a school that’s highly ranked?
If so, an MCAT of 508 is probably too low to gain acceptance.
Top-ranked schools are notoriously difficult to get in. Those institutes are interested in admitting the best of the best, so you’ll have to have a score that’s significantly higher than the 74 percentile.
Always check matriculant data for the schools you’re interested in. There’s a reason why that data is made available for prospective students.
Compare your scores to the scores of recently accepted students to see where you stand. Even if you just meet the average scores, it’s worth retaking the MCAT.
The goal is to make yourself as competitive as possible amongst the pool of applicants. With a highly competitive school, you will have your work cut out for you.
4. The Strength Of The Rest Of Your Application
Schools take a look at the bigger picture to determine if you should be accepted. As we mentioned earlier, your MCAT score is just one part of that puzzle. The biggest mistake you can make is neglecting other parts of your application.
Ultimately, the best way to look at your MCAT score is how it affects the rest of your application. Ideally, your score of 508 will either support your application or not affect it at all! Let’s take a look at a couple of examples.
The Fantastic Application
If you’ve prepared for medical school for many years, you probably have an impressive application filled with everything schools want to see.
This includes glowing letters of recommendation, a ton of applicable extracurricular activities, and a solid resume that shows you have plenty of healthcare-related experience. On top of that, you spend extra time on secondary applications, personal essays, and statements.
Because of this, your application will be enticing and very competitive right off the bat. Your credentials are so impressive that you likely won’t need to retake the MCAT even with a 508. This score is not going to hinder your application at all, as you have other things in your application to back you up.
The Mediocre Application
Now, let’s say that your application is “so-so”. You didn’t take a ton of extracurriculars and your only work experience is a part-time job at a burger joint during high school! There’s nothing in your application that stands out or shows that you are passionate about medicine.
That doesn’t mean that you won’t get accepted, but your MCAT score of 508 isn’t good enough to help you. In this instance, you would need a much higher MCAT score to make your application stand out.
Retaking the test would be worth considering because it could help you make up for a less-than-stellar application.
5. Would A Retake Actually Result In A Higher Score?
Let’s talk about the test itself. Before you rush into a retake, you need to take a moment to identify where things went wrong. Again, a 508 isn’t a bad score, but there’s plenty of room for improvement.
If you ran off and took the test right now, do you think that you would do any better?
The last thing you want is to get the same score or do worse. Schools have access to all of your scores. There’s a big risk if you’re not fully prepared to do better.
Take a closer look at your MCAT score and take note of any major discrepancies. Schools prefer students to have relatively even scoring across the test’s four parts. Generally, a score of 129 on each part is very strong (although not perfect).
If you score within a couple of points of 129 on each part, schools won’t make a huge deal out of it. But if you bombed one portion of the test, that’s a major red flag.
See which sections need improvement. Even if you want to improve across the board, take some time to rethink your study strategies. You can’t expect to do better if you don’t address the areas that held you back.
Improve your practice techniques and take some time to prepare again. Don’t rush into the retake! If you decide to retake the test, make it count!
Now that you know if a 508 is a good MCAT score for you or not, it’s time to take the appropriate steps.
If you’re confident it’s high enough to get accepted, great! Proceed with your application and don’t look back.
But if you think 508 is borderline then we can help. Over the years we’ve helped hundreds of students get accepted into medical school and can help you do the same.
Simply visit our contact page and send us a message to get the ball rolling.