As an aspiring doctor, the next logical steps to take after graduating from college are taking the MCAT and applying to the medical school of your choice. Most med schools consider your MCAT score a large part of their application process, which is why taking the exam and scoring well are crucial if you want to earn a spot.
However, sometimes life happens, and there are things you can’t control, leaving you unable or unprepared to apply to medical school after taking the MCAT. In that case, you might be wondering for how long will your results be valid.
With that said, this article will answer the question of how long are your MCAT results valid and whether or not you can retake the exam once it’s past expiry.
MCAT Scores Validity
As mentioned, your MCAT scores are often crucial in the application and admissions process, serving as one of the factors admissions committees consider when selecting applicants.
However, even if you have already passed the MCAT, you may not be ready or unable to apply immediately to your preferred medical school.
In that case, it’s best to postpone and leave the application for another day. However, the question now is how long these scores will be valid? How long before med schools reject them?
The short answer is your scores are valid for two to three years only. MCAT scores don’t expire on the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Still, schools won’t accept MCAT scores that are older than three years old.
This means that beyond this duration, most med schools will consider it invalid and reject your application. You will have to retake the exam if you want to apply again.
While the exact validity period varies from school to school, this is the generally accepted timeframe.
Why Is the Validity Short?
The reason for the short validity period is that the MCAT is an exam used to evaluate your preparedness for medical school. Therefore, if it’s been a while since you’ve taken the exam, your knowledge and skills may appear rusty.
Another reason is that the exam is continually being updated to reflect the latest information in the field. For example, the exam wasn’t updated from 1991 until the 2015 revisions. Older exam scores wouldn’t be an accurate gauge of your preparedness for this next step.
Retaking the MCAT
If your MCAT scores are already invalid, the next question on your mind would probably be if you can retake the exam.
How many times to retake the MCAT
First, let’s answer how many times you can retake the exam. In short, this deals with how many opportunities do you have to score well and/or receive a valid test score. Generally, you can take the MCAT up to three times per year.
This means you have three chances every year to take the exam and score well to impress your chosen school’s admissions committee. However, there is a catch to this.
While you can take it up to three times per year, you can only do so every other year. This means after you have taken the MCAT three times, you’ll be limited to only one take the following year. In the third year, you can retake the exam three times but will be limited the next year again – this time, it’s a lifetime limit.
This means that you’ll be prohibited from retaking it after your seventh attempt at the exam. Because of this, it’s recommended that you only take the exam once you’re ready to apply to medical school. Retake the exam only when necessary.
Admissions Process with Multiple Test Scores
Suppose you have taken the MCAT a few times before applying to med school. In that case, you might be wondering how they will evaluate your application based on your MCAT score. The answer to this will depend on the school you’re applying to.
Some get the best scores from each section and use them to evaluate your overall performance. In contrast, others choose the best overall score from the valid options as your MCAT score. However, others compute the average of all your scores, which can be unfavorable for your results.
Overall, the best course of action to take is to check with your preferred medical school about their policy when it comes to multiple MCAT scores.
The MCAT is vital to any med school application process. Still, it only has a shelf life of two to three years before being considered invalid. With that said, it’s recommended that you only take the MCAT when you’re already ready and sure that you’ll go through with applying to medical schools.
This will help you avoid maxing out the number of retakes allowed for the exam. Moreover, the longer you postpone your application, the less valid your results would seem to the admissions committee.