It’s not uncommon for applicants to re-take the MCAT, even during the same application cycle. But before you make your decision, take these factors into consideration. You might also want to refer to my post, What’s a good GPA/MCAT combo for acceptance into med school?
- Don’t compare your MCAT score with your classmates’ scores, but with those of students accepted to the schools you want to attend. For a lot of schools, a 504 or 509 is a very respectable number. If you’re set on going to a school(s) with higher MCAT averages than the range you find yourself in (see the MSAR guide), you should probably re-take it. However, keep in mind, while improving your score will improve your standings with adcoms, you’re taking a risk that your score will go down on your second try, or that you won’t do any better. Neither of those outcomes will reflect well on you. In my opinion, when your question is, “To re-take the MCAT, or not?” the most important thing to ask yourself is, “am I willing to put in time and effort I wasn’t willing to put in the first time around?” If you can answer yes and follow through, it’s likely that you’ll be happy with the score you get on the re-take.
- Keep in mind that timing is everything. If you sign up for an early test date (let’s say April 1st), you’ll get your scores in 6 weeks and still have time to re-take the MCAT that same year. However, if you wait much longer (say, till mid-July) to take the MCAT for the first time, you won’t see your scores until August, and then to re-take the MCAT would mean submitting your application long after most applicants have started receiving interviews. If you’re that guy, you might be better off taking your time to prepare for a re-take and waiting a year to re-apply. There’s no shame in that.
- If you were extremely anxious your first time taking the MCAT, it’s very likely that a re-take would go better, assuming you can figure out how to relax a little more the second time around. That’s because nervousness literally blocks high-level brain functioning. For example, I know someone who was pretty rattled his first time around and scored far lower than he was averaging on practice exams. But then, having taken it once already, he felt far more calm because he knew what to expect, and on the re-take he raised his score by a whopping 4 points. That’s huge.
A little more food for thought regarding re-taking the MCAT, MCAT scores, etc: