Getting the perfect MCAT score is something a lot of students dream about. The higher chance of getting into med school (plus the bragging rights) is very appealing!
But just how helpful is it?
Is getting a perfect score on the MCAT something you should aim for? Or is it overkill?
Read on to find out.
Table of Contents
What Is A Perfect MCAT Score?
Introduced in 2015, the “new” MCAT is divided into four sections of multiple-choice questions with a maximum score for each section of 132.
That means to attain a perfect overall MCAT score, you’ll need a total score of 528.
The average total MCAT score of everyone who takes the test is 500, and you’ll obviously need to achieve higher than that to be accepted into medical school.
The average total score for accepted students is 510.4, so you need to aim for a score at least that high to be confident you have a chance of being accepted. There are obviously other factors that can influence this (read this article to learn more) but from a high level, this is what you’re dealing with.
Is This Actually Achievable?
Yes, it’s theoretically possible to achieve a perfect MCAT score. Of course, it’s significantly easier to attain a perfect score in one or two sections than overall.
The elusive perfect MCAT score is certainly much more difficult to achieve, and way fewer than 1 percent of those who take the test reach that goal. Even taking each section into account separately, fewer than 1 percent of test-takers attain a perfect score in any one of the four sections.
A total MCAT score of 524 or higher means your score is better than pretty much all other students who have taken the test. Thus, there’s very little functional difference between a score of 524 and a score of 528.
How Helpful Is A Perfect MCAT Score For Your Application?
A perfect MCAT score will give you bragging rights for sure, but how much of a difference does it actually make when a school considers your application?
Remember, the MCAT is just one of the many factors medical schools look at. They’re interested in the entire package, which includes such qualifications as your GPA, your experience, your extracurricular activities and your volunteer work.
Of course, your MCAT score is important, and any below-average score will seriously hurt your chance of being accepted.
However, if your score is within the 100th percentile of those who’ve taken the test (a score of 524 or higher) you’re in a really good spot. The percentile range is actually a better way of looking at your score, so there’s some dropoff when you reach the pinnacle.
But here’s where things get interesting:
You might be surprised to learn that a perfect MCAT score can actually be detrimental to your chances of admission to medical school. As you probably know by now, once your application passes through the computer process real humans will examine it.
An applicant with a perfect score will face tough scrutiny because they’ll stand out among the crowd and could be perceived as someone who’s not “normal.”
Unfortunately, highly intelligent people often suffer from the perception that they’re antisocial, awkward when interacting with others, or believe they’re special. While that might not be a fair assessment, it’s the last thing you want your potential interviewers to think of you when they consider your future interactions with patients.
The moral of the story, then, is to aim for the highest possible MCAT score you can achieve; and if you do achieve perfection, be prepared to demonstrate your interpersonal communication skills when you’re interviewed.
How To Get A Perfect MCAT Score: A Birds-Eye View
Let’s frame this in a more productive way:
It doesn’t matter if your goal is to achieve a near-perfect MCAT score or a perfect one. Accomplishing this will require a serious time commitment and a lot of dedication. The MCAT is already hard enough!
You certainly don’t want to wait until the night before the test to study; the time to begin is actually while you’re an undergraduate. Start with a framework for how long you should study for the MCAT and add some additional time to accommodate your lofty goals.
1. Focus On The Right Topics
Each of the four sections on the test requires a thorough knowledge of specific areas. To prepare for the Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems and the Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems sections, you’ll need to take courses in introductory biology, general and organic chemistry, and biochemistry and physics.
The Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior section requires preparation in introductory biology, psychology and sociology, while the study of ethics and philosophy is essential to prepare for the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section.
Also be sure to take as many upper-level courses as you can in the above-mentioned areas. Performing well in these classes will give you a better understanding of these subjects, allowing you to do well in each of these sections!
You’ll also increase your chances of achieving an overall score within the 99th percentile or higher of test-takers if you concentrate on topics that appear in more than one section.
For example, questions on amino acids appear in both the biology and the chemistry sections. To prepare for those questions, try to memorize the characteristics of various amino acids by creating flash cards that, for example, could display the name of the amino acid on one side and its properties on the other. It doesn’t hurt to devote a considerable amount of time to study amino acids, as this is one of, if not the, most common topics to appear on the MCAT.
2. Give Yourself Enough Time
Give yourself at least two, preferably three, months to prepare specifically for the test. You could devote your entire summer break to study, which at the time might sound like a lot to forfeit but in the long run, it could prove to be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make!
Home-study courses, MCAT practice tests, or even in-person tutoring are all great preparatory options.
3. Pace Yourself
Finally, be kind to yourself and take frequent breaks when you study for the MCAT. You can increase retention and manage stress by sticking with a consistent but manageable study schedule.
In addition, although it’s always important to eat healthy and to get enough rest, it’s even more so during the few weeks preceding the test. Even if the butterflies prevent you from getting enough sleep the night before you take the MCAT, you’ll be in a generally healthy and well-rested state! The MCAT is very long, so you’ll want all the energy you can get.
Want Some Help?
It doesn’t matter if you’re interested in getting a perfect MCAT score, or just want to score high enough to get into your med school of choice. More and more students are seeking outside assistance to help them score highly and get accepted.
As a result, getting into medical school has gotten harder and harder over the years.
If you want some help getting a high score on the MCAT (or need help with your application), get in touch!
We’ve helped hundreds of students crush the MCAT and get accepted into their schools of choice. We’d love to do the same for you.