The question “is 520 a good MCAT score” might seem a little crazy at first. In fact, if this is your score you probably have an idea that it’s decent at the very least.
But here’s the thing:
The best way to determine a good MCAT score is on a case by case basis. A 520 might be great for some, but borderline for others.
This resource will go into everything you need to know if you scored a 520 on the MCAT. You’ll get a rough idea of where you stand compared to the rest of the back, plus all the nitty-gritty details to determine if it will be good enough for you.
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Alright, Is 520 A Good MCAT Score?
After years of preparation and months of refined studying, finally receiving your MCAT score can be a nerve-wracking experience. Every student wants to land the highest score possible to increase their chances of getting into medical school.
But most prospective medical students still have trouble accepting their score, even if it’s a high one! After all, those single-point differences could mean the difference between getting accepted to your top-choice school and having to settle.
So, is 520 a good MCAT score?
The total maximum score you can get on the MCAT is 528. So, a score of 520 is a very strong score! It puts you in the top 98th percentile of all MCAT test-takers.
To put the score into perspective, the median MCAT score for matriculants in the 2019-2020 academic year was 511.5.
A 520 still falls within the standard deviation range, but it’s significantly higher than the average score of students who got accepted into medical schools.
Should You Retake With a 520?
While a 520 is good, it’s not perfect. But does that mean that you need to retake the MCAT? Is it worth the trouble trying to increase your score a point or two?
Truth is, the right move for you is going to depend on several factors. Every student’s situation is different. While we know that a 520 is definitely a “good” score, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re guaranteed to get in.
First off, all schools have their unique admissions standards.
Contrary to popular belief, your score isn’t being compared to an arbitrary number range. It’s being compared to the pool of applications at large. If you’re applying to a particularly competitive school, a 520 may not cut it!
On the same token, a 520 might not be enough to get into a “safe” school either. Admissions panels look at far more than just your MCAT score.
Secondly, there’s a big difference between getting into medical school and getting into the medical school of your choice. Sure, an MCAT score of 520 puts you in a pretty good place. There’s a good chance that you’ll get accepted somewhere.
But is the score good enough for your ideal school? That’s where things get a bit trickier.
If you’re trying to decide if you need to retake the MCAT with a score of 520, consider the following factors.
1. Consider Your GPA
The MCAT isn’t the only qualifier that medical schools pay attention to. Your GPA is just as important. The MCAT or GPA alone isn’t going to give admissions panels the whole picture about your academic performance. But when they are analyzed together, schools can better gauge your qualifications.
Let’s say, for example, that you worked hard all throughout your undergraduate career. You took all the right courses and aced them all! As a result, you’re graduating with a GPA of 3.8.
In this instance, your 520 MCAT score is definitely going to work in your favor.
It shows that you know your stuff and are perfectly capable of handling the rigors of medical school. Your high score wasn’t a fluke and you’ve proven that you’re ready to matriculate.
With a high GPA and a very respectable MCAT score of 520, there’s a good chance that you’re going to get accepted somewhere.
Now, let’s look at another scenario:
Say that you spent months preparing for the MCAT. That hard work paid off and you scored a 520 (congrats).
However, you didn’t have that same drive during your undergraduate years. As a result, you graduate with a GPA of 3.2.
The average GPA for matriculants in 2019-2020 was 3.58. While it might not seem like much, a 3.2 is considerably lower than what most medical schools are looking for.
In this instance, a good MCAT score of 520 is still probably enough to sway admissions panels to consider you. However, there are no guarantees.
The low GPA will probably hold you back if you’re trying to get into an extremely competitive school. While it’s still probably not worth spending the time on a retake attempt, a couple of extra points could put you in a more comfortable place with your applications.
2. Don’t Forget About Your State Of Residency
Here’s something that many potential medical students don’t think about. Believe it or not, where you live is one of the biggest factors that can influence your application! It all comes down to competition and the greater application pool.
You see, most state schools are more inclined to accept local students. At the end of the day, medical schools want to support the state’s healthcare infrastructure. Graduating students who are more likely to stay behind after graduation does that.
If you already live there, you’re probably going to stick around and become part of the state’s healthcare system.
Side Note: That’s not always the case. Top-tier schools and private schools tend to not show that preferential treatment.
When you’re trying to figure out whether or not you should give the MCAT another shot, you should think about how many schools your state has and how competitive your score makes you.
If you live in a state with many schools, such as California, New York, or Texas, you might not have to worry as much. Those schools are generally easier to get into if you’re a resident than if you weren’t (depending on the medical school of course).
This means you should get by just fine with a 520 MCAT score. You’ll likely get accepted into one of those schools.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for states with limited schooling options. There are many states in the country that only have a handful of medical schools to support the system.
Some states, such as Montana and Wyoming, don’t have any medical schools at all!
If your options are limited, you’re probably looking at stiff competition too. There are only so many seats to go around. This means your application needs to be as competitive as possible. In this case, retaking to get a slightly higher score could benefit you in the long run.
3. The Competitiveness Of Your Target Schools
Another important thing to consider is how competitive your target schools are. Remember, admissions panels are comparing your MCAT scores with the entire application pool.
A 520 MCAT score may be good for some schools. But for those very competitive institutes, it could be considered a low score!
Generally speaking, 520 is an impressive MCAT score. But you need to analyze the statistics for your choice schools before you make the decision to try the MCAT again or not. Take some time to look at AAMC figures and admissions requirements provided by the schools.
Use that information to make your decision. Don’t assume that 520 is good enough to carry you on its own!
Take a look at how some of the top-tier schools select students as an example. Ivy League schools have ultra-high requirements. Not only that, but they don’t even use MCAT scores to make decisions. They only use them to see if you’re even worth considering!
4. Overall Application Strength
Many students make the mistake of thinking that the MCAT score is the end-all-be-all of medical school requirements.
That couldn’t be farther from the truth. There’s a reason why schools ask for so many documents and records.
Most schools take on a holistic approach when trying to decide who they want to accept. This means that they’re not just looking at those hard numbers. A high MCAT score and GPA might get your application in the right pile. But, that doesn’t mean that you’re a shoo-in.
Getting into medical school is a tough process. It’s something that many students work their entire lives towards. For those students that are accepted, their lifetime of hard work shows!
For example, a solid application will have glowing letters of recommendation, an impressive resume filled with relevant experience, and solid scores. All of those smaller details combine to paint the right picture of you.
If you have the experience and a strong application to back it up, your MCAT score of 520 can get you pretty far.
On the other side of the coin, a high MCAT score with a weak application will only highlight your faults. The admissions panel may see that you have the knowledge to back up your application. But everything else could show that you have a lack of passion or drive.
You need to have a solid application all-around to get that coveted spot. If you don’t have all of the things schools want to see, you better have an amazing score to even be considered!
5. Be Honest About Your Ability To Get A Higher Score In The Future
Here’s something you probably didn’t think about!
Trying to improve on your 520 MCAT score is only going to benefit you if you actually do better the second time! If you don’t think that’s possible, you’re going to have to spend some extra time changing your study approach.
Preparing for the MCAT is half the battle. It takes time and money to take the test. Before you spend those resources, you need to make sure that you’re taking the steps to see an improvement.
The last thing you want to do is score lower. While your highest score is typically used in applications, schools have access to all of your attempts. What does a lower score during your second attempt say about you? Not good things.
Before you commit to retaking the MCAT, take a moment to step back. Do you have the time to prepare? Do you know where you’re struggling? Do you know what you can do to improve? You must ask yourself those questions and address anything in your study routine that prevented you from scoring higher the first go-around.
A 520 is a good MCAT score for most situations. In fact, it doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for improvement for many people. Consider your overall situation before you rush into a retake.
Time To Take Action
A 520 is a good MCAT score for most students, but not all of them. Depending on your goals and academic track record, this score can either make you ecstatic or anxious.
At the end of the day, you have options available to you if you scored a 520. Some might not be the ones you dreamed of, but you’re in a more comfortable position than many other students.
If you want some help maximizing the chances of getting into your school of choice, we’re more than happy to help. Over the years we’ve worked with hundreds of premed students and have done the exact same thing for them!