It depends on the school and varies from 10-40%. On average, the weightage of MCAT is 25%.
The MCAT is undoubtedly one of the most critical exams an aspiring doctor needs to take. It can be a defining factor when it comes to getting into the medical school of your choice. The MCAT evaluates the extent of your knowledge in several aspects of medicine as well as the skills you need as a medical professional.
While most medical schools state that the MCAT is only a part of the application process, the truth is, it’s one of the two defining factors when it comes to the admission process. The other is your GPA.
With that said, this article will further explain just how much the MCAT matters when applying to medical schools and how much of the application depends on your MCAT scores.
Medical School Admission Requirements
Not all medical schools have the same admissions criteria, but most have similar requirements for being admitted to their institution. For example, one’s MCAT score and GPA are crucial when determining an applicant’s admission qualification.
Other than these, they also evaluate an applicant’s extracurriculars as well as how well they write in their admissions essay. Some schools require letters of recommendation from applicants as well. However, many of them need this only as part of their secondary application.
Nevertheless, these can determine whether they will bring you in for an interview or not. After this, however, AdComs or admissions committees still take into account other aspects when choosing the applicants best suited for their institution.
Why the MCAT Is Important in Admissions
While it’s true that medical schools evaluate more than just your MCAT score when you apply, it’s undeniable just how important scoring well on the MCAT is. Nevertheless, it’s not the only criterion that matters.
So, why exactly is the MCAT important when applying to med school?
1. It can help medical schools objectively compare students from different schools.
There are thousands of universities in the US, and they all have different methods of imparting knowledge to their students. Because of this, not all med school applicants have had the same training in college.
As such, it can be challenging for medical school admissions committees to evaluate applicants from various universities fairly and equally without the help of a universal standard.
Since the MCAT is a standardized exam, meaning it’s the same test for everyone, medical schools can better and objectively gauge whether an applicant qualifies. The MCAT tests students on different topics relevant to the medical field, such as critical thinking and reasoning, which can be challenging to evaluate otherwise.
With a standardized exam like MCAT, med schools will have a single point of reference when comparing applicants, needing only to familiarize themselves with the exam.
2. It’s an objective way of choosing which students get admitted to the school.
One of the primary reasons that the MCAT is essential in the admissions process is that it gives medical schools an objective point of reference when selecting applicants to admit into their institution. With almost 900,000 students applying to medical school each year, the competition can be fierce.
As such, medical schools need a way to sift through the large pool and determine who best fits with the school’s goals and values. Aside from putting forth their own set of requirements, the MCAT can be an objective method for selecting applicants.
After all, they can only accept a limited number of students each year, and the MCAT can help them choose who to admit. With the MCAT, admissions committees can quickly identify who from their pool of applicants qualify for a spot in their school.
3. It can be a strong indicator of whether you thrive in medical school or not.
The MCAT doesn’t determine your success in medical school. Still, it can be a good indicator of your future performance in school. Since med schools can’t afford to lose students, they need to be strict when admitting applicants in the first place.
The lower the score, the more likely the student will experience delays if the school admits them. MCAT scores have also been correlated with students’ performance on the medical licensing exam in the US. As such, med schools are more likely to accept applicants with higher MCAT scores than those with lower scores.
Medical School Admission Process and How the MCAT Factors In
Now that you know the standard med school requirements and why the MCAT is essential, let’s dive deeper into the admissions process of medical schools and where the MCAT factors in.
Keep in mind that this doesn’t apply to all medical schools; it’s just to give you an idea of how the process goes and why the MCAT is essential.
First, medical schools typically screen applicants based on their MCAT scores and GPAs. This is when they review your first application and consider if they will accept it for a secondary application or reject it outright.
Typically, your MCAT score and GPA make up around 40% of the admissions process. These are primarily how med schools screen their applicants.
With that said, if you qualify, they will send a secondary application that usually includes several essays on various topics.
This is also when most ask for recommendation letters from applicants. During this stage, AdComs evaluate how well you express yourself in writing and can be a factor when choosing to bring you in for an interview.
This part usually makes up another 40% of the entire admissions process, making it a crucial aspect in their decision. If you pass this stage, you will be brought in for an interview. The interview takes up the last 20% of the admissions process. Nevertheless, the interview is when you can set yourself apart from the other applicants.
When applying to your medical school of choice, especially if there’s fierce competition for a spot, it’s best to have a good combination of high scores, extracurriculars, and excellent essays and interviews.
Tips for Improving Your MCAT Score
Since your MCAT score is a crucial element in the admissions process, it would be best if you strive for a high score.
This increases your chances of becoming accepted into the medical school of your choice or at least allows you to reach the interview stage.
Check out the tips on improving your MCAT score.
Evaluate your application timeline.
Ideally, it’s best to have your final MCAT score when you’re ready to apply to medical schools. Because of this, it’s best to evaluate the timeline so you can take the test early enough and receive your results in time for your application.
Understand your weak points and work on them.
If you scored lower on the practice tests than you’d hoped, one way you can improve this is by making time to understand where you went wrong and why you got the answer wrong. This can help you identify your weak points so you can better prepare for the exam and improve your overall score.
Re-evaluate your study habits and prep time.
The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) suggests that applicants spend at least 300 to 350 hours preparing for the MCAT. Improving your score may mean something as simple as increasing the prep time for the exam.
However, the more recommended way is to evaluate how you study and engage in healthier study habits to help you perform better on the exam.
The MCAT is undeniably a crucial part of the admissions process and how medical schools evaluate applicants. After all, it gives them an objective and unbiased way of sifting through applicants, making the process fairer and more equal.
Nevertheless, as mentioned, it’s only but one part of the entire process. Although it may carry a significant percentage of the application, it doesn’t give the whole picture of an applicant’s capacity and skill.
Moreover, the MCAT’s percentage of significance can vary from school to school, which means it can be anywhere from crucial to just another requirement.
Nevertheless, regardless of whether it’s 5% or 40% in terms of significance, it’s still a vital part of the application process.
With that said, it can only be beneficial for your chances of getting into medical school if you score as high as possible on the exam. Therefore, study well and surpass expectations so you can increase your chances of getting into the medical school of your choice and become a doctor.