MCAT Percentiles Explained — 2022
How well you do on the MCAT is one of the most important factors in whether you'll get into medical school. Keep reading to learn more about MCAT percentiles.
How well you do on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is one of the most important factors in whether you can get into medical school. When you receive your MCAT results, you’ll see an individual score for each of the four sections as well as a total score. The total MCAT score ranges from 472 to 528. Your MCAT percentile rank is calculated based on your cohort of test-takers, so, for example, having a percentile of 75 means that you scored higher than 75% of people who took the test in the same session. Keep in mind that the MCAT also has limits on how many times you can take the test. If you’re determined to have a career in medicine, you’ll want to be thoroughly prepared to take the MCAT so you can get your target percentile the first time. Keep reading to learn more about how the MCAT works and what makes for a good score and percentile.
What is a good MCAT percentile?
The purpose of percentile ranks for the MCAT exam is to show how your score compares to that of everyone else who took the exam. They also help medical schools compare and sort through their applicant pools. Percentile ranks are updated each year on May 1 to reflect the most recent three years’ worth of data. Current MCAT percentile ranks in effect through April 30, 2022, are as follows:
As you can see, a score of 500 to 502 would put you squarely in the middle of the percentile ranks. However, you should aim for a score of at least 510 to land in the 78th percentile or higher. That’s the minimum percentile rank most medical schools are looking for. If you want to attend a top medical school, you should aim for the 95th percentile or higher. Remember that if you take the MCAT more than once, the schools you apply to will be able to see your current and past scores. Of course, your MCAT score isn’t the only factor in your medical school application. Your GPA, transcript, letters of recommendation and other application materials will also be factored into a school’s acceptance decision.
What is the MCAT?
The MCAT, developed by the Association of American Medical Colleges, has been in use for more than 90 years. Today, it is a computer-based test with multiple-choice questions. Nearly all medical schools in the U.S. require applicants to submit MCAT scores. The purpose of the test is to evaluate you on the scientific and other knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in medical school and medical practice. The MCAT is divided into four sections and lasts a total of about 7.5 hours.
What are the four MCAT sections?
When you take the MCAT, you’ll receive a total of five scores, one for each section and a total combined score. Each section score ranges from 118 to 132, and the total score ranges from 472-528. There are a total of 230 multiple-choice questions across the following four sections:
- Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems: Tests your understanding of how life is fostered through basic processes such as growing and reproducing. You also need to understand the relationships between cells and organ systems and how they support life processes. Organic and general chemistry also appear in this section.
- Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems: Tests your knowledge of the physical sciences in the context of biological sciences. You’ll need to apply general principles to living systems. A periodic table is available but not a calculator.
- Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior: This is a newer section on the MCAT that tests your ability to apply research and statistical principles to help determine health outcomes based on behavioral and sociocultural determinants.
- Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills: This is the only section of the MCAT that doesn’t test prior content knowledge. You’ll be presented with a reading passage and asked to analyze the arguments, identify assumptions and make inferences.
What is a good MCAT score?
You can expect to receive your MCAT score report within 30 to 35 days of your exam date. Learn more about the four section scores and the total score:
- Bio/Biochem: There are 59 total questions and a score range of 118 to 132.
- Chem/Phys: There are 59 total questions and a score range of 118 to 132.
- Psych/Soc: There are 59 total questions and a score range of 118 to 132.
- CARS: There are 53 total questions and a score range of 118 to 132.
- Total Score: Ranges from 472 to 528. The median is 500, with most test-takers scoring around 125 points per section.
In terms of what constitutes a good MCAT score, the top 10% of people score in the 514 to 528 range, and the top 25% are in the 508 to 513 range. To get into a top medical school, you will most likely need to be in the top 10%. However, check the average MCAT scores for the schools you plan to apply to and use them as your target.
How to pay for medical school
The median cost of medical school attendance (all four years) is about $250,000 for public schools and $330,000 for private institutions. The average student debt balance for a medical school graduate is about $200,000. A good MCAT score can help you get scholarships and grant money to reduce the out-of-pocket costs of attending medical school. Wait to take the MCAT exam until you’re ready because there are limits on the number of times you can take it. If you do want to improve upon your first score, you can take the MCAT up to three times in one year or four times in two years. There is a lifetime limit of seven exams.
If you do need to finance part or all of your medical school education, shop around to find the best deal on medical school student loans:
- Direct Unsubsidized Loans: The U.S. Department of Education will lend you up to $20,500 per year with an interest rate of 5.28%.
- Private Loans: While private student loans for medical school don’t offer the same benefits as federal loans, you may be able to find a better interest rate or a loan without origination fees from one of Juno’s lending partners.
Join Juno for the best deals on medical school student loans
Join Juno today to find the best private student loan rates and terms for grad students and med school students. It’s free and fast, and no credit check is required to view our negotiated deals. We use group buying power to get you the best student loan interest rates, and our partner lenders offer student loans without any fees. If by some miracle you find a better deal, we’ll beat it!
Elizabeth Helen Spencer is a personal finance and travel writer based in the Philadelphia area. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing and has been featured in Money Under 30 and HuffPost.
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