What Does A 528 Really Mean?

Understanding And Estimating MCAT Scores


The MCAT score ranges from 472 to 528. There are 4 sections, each ranging from 118-132. Medical schools PREFER consistency in all 4 sections. But, these numbers are practically useless for us. Schools judge based on percentiles. Each score (and sometimes more than one score) is correlated to a percentile.

A percentile is the % of people that the score is ABOVE. So 99th percentile means the score is above 99% of other test-takers  50th percentile means the score is above 50% of other test-takers. The issue is that 50th percentile is NOT the same thing is a 50%. 50th percentile in any section is a 125. 50th percentile in an entire exam is 500 (125+125+125+125). Always aim ABOVE 50th percentile (ofcourse). But what is a good MCAT score? Well it depends on what school you want to go to, your current school, your gpa, your background, and your activities.

 Most premedical students have already been weeded out so those that take the MCAT have high gpas or have prepared for a long amount of time. Thus, even 70% score of the MCAT could mean 50th percentile. It all depends on the students who take it and set the curve!  

Not all students who take the MCAT need to get a high percentile. Students might need 40-70th percentile MCAT scores to place into post-bacc, masters, early entrance, and non-MD/DO programs (although everyone still prefers a higher percentile). 

Look at this graph

Source: AAMC

For each score, there is a bar that represents the percent of students who received this score out of 100% in April/May of 2015 (the first months our beloved new MCAT was administered). To really figure out what this graph means, figure out what score you want. 

Figuring Out Your Goal MCAT Score

First, we need to consider the average score for what your aim might be. To figure out the specific score of your M.D. or D.O. school, visit medical-schools.startclass.com (it will be your lifeline come application time). Okay, what did your school average? 

Goal School Average MCAT Score: __________

Guess what? Your unique. Kind of. We still need to consider your GPA. Estimate what your GPA will be by Spring of applications season:

GPA:  __________

(If it is below 3.4 you should consider a post-bacc or masters program to boost that score up.)

Now look at this graph

Source: M Prep

Now look at the point that fits your GPA and the avg. school score. The red circle means over 50% of applicants were accepted. How big is the circle? GPA is hard to fix, but your MCAT score depends on your work and effort until test day. Is the circle really big? You might want to consider applying to a few schools (10-30). According to this chart, students with a 3.5 GPA and 500 on the new MCAT have a 22% chance of being admitted. Now adjust your MCAT score (up or down) to fit the best circle. Is the circle too small? You might want to consider applying to more schools (30-60). 

Desired Goal MCAT Score: __________ (based on the largest circle for your gpa)

Bad news: This is still in the "Old Score". You will see a lot of this. So use this old vs. new MCAT conversion table to help convert when needed. 

Source: Accepted.com

Converted Goal MCAT Score: ________ (based on estimate conversions from the graph above)

Okay, now write this on a piece of paper and post is everywhere. This is the rest of your life.. well your life until that big test day. Side note: The AMCAS Test usually depicts your score within +/- 3 points (factoring in lack of adrenaline, motivation, tiredness, quietness). Again, a super high MCAT score does not automatically admit you to med school. BUT! It does make is a sure of a lot EASIER to prove yourself at a baseline against other applicants. The MCAT score is like the golden ticket in Willy Wonka, it helps med schools open their doors to you but you can still get sent home if you don't behave (by behave, we mean be the good, hardworking premeds we know you are).

Now lets see what your odds are at getting your dream score.

Source: Accepted.com

Okay. Lets do a sample conversion. You have a 4.0 GPA and are aiming for Harvard. You look at start class and see the average mcat is 37. That is converted to a ~517. A 517 is in the 96th percentile. 96th percentile means your test score needs to be in the top 4% (or better than 96% of test scores). Does that make sense? So a 528 would meet being in the top 0% of scores (what? well, technically top .001%).  Over 85,000 people take the MCAT every year. So to get a Harvard-worthy MCAT score, you would need to fit into a group of 3,400 people. That seems pretty doable, right? Over 20,000 students are accepted to medical school every year. You can easily fit into a group of 20,000 people. Now lets talk about understanding this in terms of your practice scores.

Your first practice score will be around 495-505. Don't panic. The knowledge and what content your courses covered determine your initial score. The amount of time you need to prepare for your goal score is not a reflection on how smart you are. You are smart if you take the exam when your practice scores SHOW you that you are ready. You are smart if you allow yourself to take the time you need.