How Many Times Can You Take the MCAT? Yearly/Lifetime Limits

How Many Times Can You Take the MCAT? Yearly + Lifetime Limits

Dr. Ken Tao

Posted in: MCAT

Here is how many times you can take the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test), according to the AAMC:

  • In a single testing year: Up to 3 times
  • Over two consecutive years: Up to 4 times
  • Overall lifetime limit: No more than 7 times

Note: Failure to attend a scheduled examination or voiding your MCAT contributes to your lifetime limit.

As the Director of MCAT at MedSchoolCoach, I discuss the MCAT with aspiring medical students every day. MCAT preparation is pivotal on the path to medical school, and understanding how many times you can take the MCAT is essential.

Unlock your potential with one-on-one MCAT Tutoring. With 99th-percentile tutors, exceptional teachers, and completely personalized plans, MedSchoolCoach is here to help you achieve your best MCAT score and secure your path to medical school.

How Many Times Should You Take the MCAT?

The number of times you should take the MCAT depends on various factors, including your initial score and your target score for your ideal medical school. Ideally, you’d score high your first time, rather than having to take this standardized test more than once.

MCAT score ranges go from 472-528. The average MCAT score of all test takers in the most recent cycle year was 501.3, while matriculants (students accepted and enrolled) averaged 511.9 for MD programs and 504.6 for DO programs. MCAT tutoring is worth it to achieve a higher score on the MCAT exam. 

For most pre-meds, we recommend aiming for a good MCAT score of at least 511, as this is above-average for students accepted to medical school. 

However, competitiveness is much broader than aiming for just one number. It’s better to research the specific schools you’re interested in to understand the competitive score range to aim for. Use the MSC Score Tool to understand how competitive your scores are at a much more granular level.

Ideally, you should aim to take the MCAT as many times as needed to achieve the highest score for your desired schools without overdoing it. 

Here’s a breakdown of three key considerations:

1. Will a Retake Hurt My Chances of Getting Accepted to Med School?

Taking the MCAT more than once isn’t necessarily a red flag for admissions committees. Many applicants opt for at least one retake to improve their scores. However, the impact of retakes on your application can vary between institutions.

It’s essential to check the specific admissions requirements of the medical schools you are interested in to ensure you meet their criteria.

Most medical schools consider the MCAT score as a crucial part of the application process, alongside other factors like GPA, letters of recommendation, personal statements, and interviews. 

2. How Many MCAT Retakes Are Too Many?

Retaking the MCAT three or more times can raise questions for certain admissions committees. Ideally, you should aim to demonstrate significant score improvement with each retake. 

Taking the MCAT four or more times in a short period (unless there are valid reasons like a gap year or a prior career in healthcare) can work against you.

There comes a point where, if you find it challenging to achieve a competitive score despite substantial preparation, pursuing a different career path might be a meaningful consideration.

3. How Many Times Do Most Students Take the MCAT?

The frequency of MCAT retakes varies among students. Some applicants secure their desired scores on their first attempt and move forward with their applications. Others may retake the MCAT once or twice to enhance their chances. 

The key is to consider your unique circumstances and objectives. It’s important to approach MCAT retakes strategically, focusing on significant score improvement to enhance your chances of medical school admission.

Read Next: The Medical School Application Process

Preparing to Retake the MCAT

If you find yourself in a situation where an MCAT retake is necessary, proper test prep is paramount. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your retake:

  • Take practice tests: Full-length practice exams before test day can identify your strengths and weaknesses, allowing you to focus your efforts effectively.
  • Focus on high-yield topics: Concentrate your study plan on the subjects and areas where you need improvement. Efficient study strategies can make a significant difference.
  • Don’t waste time on the wrong study resources: Ensure that your study materials align with the MCAT’s content and format. Utilize reputable resources and consider seeking guidance from experienced mentors.
  • Use MCAT Go and the MCAT Prep app: These resources can provide valuable study aids and insights to help you prepare more efficiently.
  • Get tutoring from MedSchoolCoach: If you’re struggling with the MCAT, don’t hesitate to seek professional guidance. Our team at MedSchoolCoach offers expert tutoring services designed to help you maximize your MCAT performance.

You Can Improve Your MCAT Score by 12+ Points

One of the most significant benefits of professional tutoring is the potential for substantial score improvement. 

If you’re going to retake the MCAT, you should do everything in your power to make that retake test count! At MedSchoolCoach, we’ve helped numerous students boost their MCAT scores by 12 or more points, making them more competitive applicants for medical school.
Ken Tao, PhD

Ken Tao, PhD

Ken is the Director of MCAT at MedSchoolCoach. He is an alumnus of UC Berkeley and Harvard University, boasts degrees in Bioengineering, Molecular and Cell Biology, and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience. Ken previously worked with undergraduate students at Princeton Review where he was the only tutor certified in all subjects. Ken was one of the highest rated MCAT tutors ever and a teacher trainer. He founded Magoosh's MCAT division and has written content for dozen's of MCAT books and guides.

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