Our blog is designed to answer your questions about being a premed student, becoming a doctor, residency and licensure. We’re going to continue discussing the path of premed students this week. Many US and Canadian students choose to pursue a bachelor’s degree, but it is not a requirement for admissions to AUS. In fact, AUS offers a two year premed program on the same campus as our medical school, which exposes students to the environment, faculty and curriculum they will face in two years time. However, as a premed student you may still be exploring your options and a bachelor’s degree allows you the time to focus on your education and develop a deeper understanding of your career goals.
In the United States, many premed students choose to test their knowledge and aptitude for the medical degree by taking the MCAT. This exam, The Medical College Admission Test, is given by the AAMC, or Association of American Medical Colleges. This exam
“is a standardized, multiple-choice examination created to help medical school admissions offices assess your problem solving, critical thinking, and knowledge of natural, behavioral, and social science concepts and principles prerequisite to the study of medicine.”
Many premed students dedicate hundreds of hours to prepare for this exam that is only offered on select dates throughout the year. For 2016, premed students can take the MCAT on two days in January and 18 days from April until September. Students are encouraged to register early for the MCAT so they have their first pick of location and date. More information on the MCAT, how to prepare for the MCAT and dates available can be found here.
The MCAT scores are released 30-35 days after completion and include 4 scores, one from each section as well as a combined score. “Your MCAT score report provides a great deal of information designed to highlight your strengths and weaknesses.” (source). This information helps the admissions departments of medical schools in the US and Canada determine your readiness for medical school; however at AUS we understand that one exam cannot accurately describe your ability to pursue the medical degree. There are many traits that cannot be defined on the MCAT, such as dedication, compassion and a love of medicine. Consider this: The MCAT exam takes 5 hours and is a very stressful exam. Should it be the deciding factor for your entrance to medical school? Many students struggle with test anxiety and the MCAT score is not true reflection of their aptitude.
What is a good MCAT score? Below is a table of average MCAT scores from 2000-2004 with the average GPA of undergraduate study for entrance to a US medical school. Many medical schools consider both your GPA and MCAT score in addition to other factors such as a personal statement and personal interview. Students interested in medical school may have a lower GPA due to the struggles of adjusting to life as a college freshman or having to retake an exam, and prerequisite courses that are repeated are factored into the GPA based on your college transcripts. “Regarding GPA calculation, MD schools count every course grade earned even if you have retaken a course. If you earned a “C” in Ochem the first time, retook the course and earned an “A” later, they will count both grades for calculating your GPA.” (source)
At AUS, there are strict admissions requirements and high standards for admittance, but the MCAT is not one of them. We meet many students from diverse backgrounds who have a strong commitment to the pursuit of medicine and AUS feels that an MCAT score does not have a direct correlation on their success in medical school, including the USMLE scores or the ability to match into residency. If you have recently taken the MCAT and feel that your score is a barrier to entrance to medical school, contact our admissions department to learn more about our holistic approach to medical school admissions.