Since doctors are well paid, many students are interested in going to medical school. However, due to the high levels of competition, medical schools are admitting students mainly on the basis of their MCAT scores. The AAMC is the group that conducts the MCAT, decides the exam questions,
and is in charge ofscoring. In 2015, the MCAT exam was modified, and the length of the exam was increased to six hours in addition to some subjects like biochemistry, sociology and psychology being added. Many students are using an MCAT tutor to help them get admission into medical school but they would also like to understand the MCAT scoring, so that they can prepare accordingly.
The MCAT exam has different sections covering the main subjectsthat a doctor should be proficient in like Physics and Chemistry, Biology and Biochemistry, Behavior, Sociology and Psychology, Critical Analysis, and Reasoning. For each of the four sections that make up the MCAT, the maximum possible score is 132. So, for the four sections total the maximum possible score is 528. The score of each premed student can vary between 118 and 132 for each section, with 125 being the average score for each exam. The student who gets a 50th percentile for the exam scores between 498 and 502 for the exam.
The raw score for the exam is the number of points that the student gets for questions answered correctly, but the score card received will also provide the percentile rank of the student in each section. This rank is the score of the student in comparison to other students who have also answered the exam. The percentile shows the percentage of exam takers who have the same or lower score compared to the student. A student who has scored 132, typically has a percentile score of 100% while a student with a score of 118 will have a percentile score of one or less.
In addition to the raw score, the student will also get a score which is called the “confidence band” for her score. The AAMC, which conducts the exam, agrees that there is a possibility that there may be some error while evaluating the answers of the student due to the flaws in the grading system. Hence for each examinee a confidence band is provided, indicating the range in which the real score of the student will be. This score helps the medical school to get a more accurate idea of how the student has scored, taking into account the flaws of a standardized test. Students who have a score within a few points of each other, should be considered similarly by the medical school.
Since the examinee will never find out which questions they answered correctly and which questions they did not answer correctly in the exam, the AAMC provides a score profile of the exam to each student so that they can evaluate their performance for different sections of the MCAT. The score profile helps to find out the subjects in which they have done well, and the subjects in which their performance could be improved. If the student will be taking the MCAT again, this score can help them find the subjects in which they should focus on to improve their score.
Statistical data indicates that the students who actually get accepted into a medical school have an average score of 508.7. Hence understanding the scoring system will help student improve their MCAT performanceand meet their goal.
Image Credits: psychology from Dmytro Zinkevych /Shutterstock