Low MCAT Score: Is This the End? What Should I Do?

What Is a Low MCAT Score?

The sad circumstance of having a high MCAT score is that someone else will have a low MCAT score, since it is graded on a percentile basis. Let’s define a low score as being 33% percentile and below – which translates to 22 or below.

If you are among the bottom 1/3 of the MCAT test takers, do not be too hard on yourself. Getting into medical school is a very tough thing to do. Remember that you are competing with some of the brightest people in the nation. Who knows? Maybe getting a low MCAT score is a blessing in disguise.

Is Medical School the Only Option?

So if you got a lower MCAT score what do you do now? Take a deep look at yourself and determine whether or not you absolutely must go to medical school. There are many reasons not to go to medical school.

If you must go, where do you want to go? Is a Caribbean school okay or is the only option an American school? Either one you choose, medical school would be very challenging, much harder than preparing for the MCAT. If you are no good at standardized, multiple-choice exams, you may have a tough time passing medical school, as almost all the exams are multiple-choice. Not to mention that there are three national exams (also multiple-choice) you must take, before you can receive your medical license to practice in the US.

low mcat score - goodbye cruel world

Wait! Stop! It is not the end of the world. You can recover from a low MCAT score.

I am not trying to scare you, but I am trying to show you that getting into medical school is only half the battle. The other half is staying in and graduating.

If you get in only to drop out, you’ll not only have wasted a lot of effort and money, but even more importantly, you would have wasted a lot of time as well. If you did not get into medical school yet, it is not too late to turn back.

But if you absolutely must go to medical school, and you’re convinced that the low MCAT score is a fluke, continue reading.

What to Do to Get into Medical School?

With a MCAT score of 22 or below, you may have a chance of getting into Caribbean medical schools. Do keep in mind that the drop-out rate for Caribbean medical schools in general is much higher than the drop-out rate for US medical schools.

If you must attend an US medical school, retake the exam. Look at the MCAT test prep section for my study tips. When you retake, you absolute must improve. If you don’t, the schools will see that and write you off as someone who is not cut out to go to medical school. They will see old MCAT grades and new MCAT grades; there is no option to hide your MCAT grades.

If you set your mind on doing well on the MCAT, if you put in the time and the effort — meaning if you do thousands of practice questions and take notes on the questions you got wrong — even with an average IQ, you will do well. There is hope, but how hard are you willing to work to reach it?

This article is part of the Get into Medical School series. Click on the link if you want more tips and hints about getting accepted into medical school.


  1. Leigh J. Mack, MD says:

    MCAT is not the end all be all. I think if you ask any physician working today it really takes a high drive, passion for medicine and motivation to succeed. Yes you do need to learn to take exams and do well i.e. USMLE Step exams and board specialty exams. However, you also need to learn and be able to apply concepts and knowledge. to practice. You also have to know how to interact well with patients and have a love for helping people in general. Focus on the essential science so that you can build your medical knowledge from it in the future; don’t get hung up on the test itself.

Speak Your Mind