Getting a 509 MCAT score can result in a lot of uncertainty. We hear from students all the time who’ve gotten a 509 and aren’t sure if they should feel good, or bad.
And here’s why:
A 509 is kind of a tricky score when it comes to assessing your likelihood of getting accepted into medical school. For some people it’s fine, and others it’s not.
So we decided to go all-out and create an entire guide for students who got a 509 on the MCAT. You’ll learn if it’s a good score based on your situation, and what you can do if you end up needing it to be higher.
Table of Contents
- So, Is 509 A Good MCAT Score Or Not?
- Should You Retake The MCAT If You Got A 509?
- Next Steps
So, Is 509 A Good MCAT Score Or Not?
So you got a 509 on the MCAT. Is that good or bad?
Here’s an overly simplified assessment:
A 509 on the MCAT is not the highest score around. However, it can still be more than enough to make you competitive (depending on other factors). In fact, with a 509 score you performed in the 82 percentile of test-takers that year.
That’s a high-level view of your situation, but there are a number of other factors you need to consider before you can know for sure.
But before you move on to the following sections, don’t panic.
When most prospective medical students attempt the MCAT for the first time, their primary goal is to score as high as possible.
It’s not uncommon to see students stressing out about single-point differences. This causes them to get tunnel vision on a possible retake while ignoring all the other ways they can get accepted with a 509.
Should You Retake The MCAT If You Got A 509?
Truth is, an MCAT score of 509 is slightly lower than the average scores of matriculants in 2019-2020 according to AAMC data. The median for successful matriculants was 511.5.
Of course, those two points are well within the standard deviation. Not only that, but the score is higher than the median MCAT score of all medical school applicants. The average score for all applicants was 506.1.
Because of the score’s position in the data, it can be tricky deciding whether or not you should retake the MCAT. Ultimately, the right course of action is going to depend on several factors.
Medical schools all have their own standards. Not only that, but standards typically change based on the merits of the application pool. It’s perfectly possible for students to get accepted even if they have a lower score than 509.
You just have to impress in other areas.
The same goes for students in the opposite scenario. Applicants can still get rejected even if they have a score closer to 520! It all depends on what you’re bringing to the table and how your scores compare to others trying to get in.
So an MCAT score of 509 is pretty decent, but there are no guarantees either way. Plus, you have to factor in the type of school you’re trying to get into.
There’s a big difference between getting into any medical school and getting accepted into your ideal schools. Do you have a particular program in mind? Do you prefer traditional MDs over DOs?
Those are things you have to consider when deciding whether or not you should retake the test. Below are the main factors that will come into play.
1. What’s Your GPA?
Next to your MCAT score, your GPA is going to have a huge effect on your overall competitiveness.
Obviously, schools want to know that you have a good understanding of the basics. That’s what’s the MCAT is for.
However, your GPA is going to show how you’ve performed during your undergraduate career. It gives insight into how you will do with the courseload of medical school.
A higher GPA is going to make you much more competitive with an MCAT score of 509. With a higher GPA, your chances of getting accepted somewhere with this score are pretty high. In 2019-2020, the average GPA of matriculants was 3.73.
As long as you have a GPA that’s close to that, you can rest easy knowing that you’re more than likely going to have options come graduation.
On the other end of the token, a lower GPA will make a 509 a bit questionable. For example, say that you’re applying with a GPA of 3.58. That’s the average GPA of medical school applicants in 2019-2020.
With an average GPA, it’s going to be very tough for your application to stand out. Once the school sees the 509, your application may go straight to the “No” pile. That’s because you’re not competitive in two of the most important performance indicators.
It’s really one or the other.
You can have a high GPA to make up for an average MCAT score, or you have a high MCAT score with an average GPA. You can’t expect to get a ton of acceptance letters when your scores are average (or below average) across the board.
In that case, retaking the MCAT may be worth the effort.
2. What Is Your State Of Residency?
You should always think about your state of residence when applying to medical schools. Most schools prefer to admit prospective students that come from the same area. Why is that?
Well, schools want to support the local healthcare system. If you grew up in the state, you likely have roots there. As a result, there’s a better chance that you’re going to stay there and become part of the state’s healthcare system as a physician.
That said, some states have more schools than others. Some states have no medical schools at all! This changes the competition level dramatically.
Say, for example, that you live in New York and plan on attending a school there. New York has 15 medical schools, which is more than any other state. So, a 509 MCAT score will put you a good place to get accepted in one of those schools. Retaking the MCAT likely wouldn’t benefit you in this situation.
Now, if you’re in a state with limited schooling options, that 509 score might not be enough. States like New Mexico, Hawaii, North Dakota, and Utah only have a single medical for future physicians. Those schools are dealing with limited seats.
A similar situation can be found in states with top-ranked schools. Those institutes are more focused on accepting the very best applicants possible. They shouldn’t be considered part of the “in-state” considerations when relating your MCAT score to admissions possibilities.
3. How Competitive Your Target Schools Are
Speaking of competitive schools, it’s important to compare your 509 MCAT score with the schools you’re interested in attending. You can easily gather information about admissions requirements and statistics of past matriculants. In most cases, this can be obtained from the school itself or from AAMC.
Take a look at the average MCAT score of past matriculants and see where your 509 stands. Also, take a look at the overall admissions rate. If you’re open to attending a Caribbean medical school, your chance of getting in with a 509 is much higher.
If the 509 is a lower MCAT score than what the average accepted student has, you may want to think about retaking the MCAT.
4. The Quality Of Your Overall Application
When you’re trying to gauge your competitiveness for medical schools, the MCAT shouldn’t be the only thing you look at. Many factors will sway the admissions panel.
The best way to think of your MCAT score is how it will affect everything else in your application.
There’s no doubt that your MCAT plays a roll in admissions decisions. However, it’s often used as the qualifier rather than the final decision-maker.
It’s just one of many things that admissions panels will consider when deciding if you’re a good fit for the school.
The best way to relate your MCAT score is to determine whether or not it will hurt or improve your overall application.
For most students, a “good score” is going to be one that won’t hurt the rest of your application. A 509 is in the neutral range. It’s not going to harm your application, but it’s not going to help it either.
That’s because it falls close to the median MCAT score. You’re in the 82 percentile! That 509 MCAT score will get you in the door and ensures that the panel will at least take a look at the rest of your application.
If you were to score much lower, such as below 500, the score wouldn’t even qualify your application for review at most schools.
So, now you have to think about how the rest of your application stacks up.
Do you have glowing recommendation letters and a solid personal essay? What about your extracurriculars? Do you have the clinical experience and resume to make your application appealing?
This is when you’re going to have to think long and hard about what your application says about you. If you don’t have an application that’s going to impress the admissions panel, a modest MCAT score isn’t going to help you out. It would actually hurt your application and harm your chances.
Retaking the MCAT is recommended in this scenario. Remember, it’s all about making a case for the admissions panel. Your application isn’t a shining star in the pile, so you need a solid MCAT score to make them consider you.
5. Do You Realistically Think You Would Get A Higher Score The Second Time?
Finally, the last thing you should think about before deciding whether or not to retake the MCAT is your potential to actually score higher. Take a minute to be honest with yourself and reflect on the first attempt.
Did you do everything that you could to prepare? Did you struggle during the test at all?
If you don’t think that you could realistically improve your scores, retaking the test may not be worth the risk. Retaking the MCAT is a big financial investment. Plus, it takes months of preparation!
The last thing you want to do is get a lower score. Schools have access to all the times you take the MCAT. Getting a lower score after your initial 509 is definitely not what you want.
If you’re still adamant about trying for a higher MCAT score, you’ll need to rethink your practice habits. Take a different approach to improve the preparation process. Failing to do so will only lead to similar results.
You can also get some outside help the second time around. We work with students on retakes all the time and consistently help them raise their scores.
Now that you know if a 509 is a good MCAT score for you or not, it’s time to take the next steps.
If you’re feeling confident you should be thinking about how to improve your application to get the best results. If a 509 is too low (and your other factors can’t make up for it), it’s time to think about a smart retake strategy.
No matter where you stand, we’re more than happy to help. We’ve helped hundreds of students get the MCAT scores they want and beef up their overall applications as well!