Setting a Goal MCAT Score: How and Why?
Chelsea Kharakozova avatar
Written by Chelsea Kharakozova
Updated over a week ago

Whether you’ve spent a lot of time prepping for the MCAT or you’re just starting, you’ve probably heard people talking about setting a goal score. Hopefully you’ve seen more than just the people on Reddit telling you that you need a 528 to be competitive. So let's break down what a goal score is and how to set yours.

Goal scores are as individual as Med School applicants are. There are a number of factors that will contribute to what your goal score should be, but the general idea is that it is a goal (which may change) that gives you the best chance of getting into the med school of your dreams given all the other factors of your application. Remember, of all of the factors in your application, your MCAT score is the one you have the most control over at this point in your journey.

Choose a list of med schools

The first step in setting a goal score is having an idea of where you want to go to school. The decision between Allopathic and Osteopathic alone can change your goal score significantly. (Check out our post on choosing the best med school)

  1. Research their matriculant data

    Using the MSAR or their online web presence, you’ll want to get an idea of the average MCAT score for the schools you’re interested in as well as their GPA averages and any other preferences they give to matriculants. You’ll be comparing these to your statistics. While an MCAT score can’t totally “make up” for a low GPA it does have some bearing on the application process, particularly if your grades showed improvement and there’s a story behind any low grades – we all had that one Ochem class, we get it.

  2. Assess the other components of your application

    As noted above, you’ll want to compare your statistics to what your goal schools want in an applicant. If your GPA is lower than they’re looking for, you’ll want to set your MCAT goal a little higher than their average. Similarly, you’re likely comparing to multiple schools at this point, they will all fit on a matrix in comparison to your statistics and you’ll want to make sure you have at least a couple where you’re above average, a couple you are average and a reach school or two.

  3. Ballpark a goal score

    Using all of the information above, you should set your goal score to be somewhere comfortably in a competitive range for most of the schools you’re interested in attending. Remember that average statistics from schools are just that – averages. So you don’t have to shoot for a score above all of the schools you’re interested in.

  4. Reassess

    Your goal score should be a flexible number. Did you surpass it with a month left until test day? Great! Bump it up and keep pushing higher. Do you have a month left and you’ve hit a plateau? That’s ok too, time to reassess and decide if you want to adjust your goal or adjust your test date. Your goal is meant to help motivate you through your studies, not demoralize you.

In the end, your goal score should be something used to motivate you based on your overall goals for medical school, it should be flexible and dynamic based on your performance, and you should assess it early and often.

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