The MCAT, otherwise known as the Medical College Admission Test, is a multiple-choice standardized test that has been used to admit students into medical schools for more than eighty years. Unlike many other standardized tests, it is possible to achieve a perfect score on the MCAT. To do so, you must be ready to study hard and work hard, as well as to prepare yourself as well as possible for the rigors of standardized testing.
Speaking of studying, check out our list of the highest-ranked MCAT prep books and MCAT courses!
What is a Perfect MCAT Score?
The MCAT is divided into four sections, and each section is individually scored. The minimum score for each section is 118, while the maximum is 132. To get a perfect score on the MCAT, you would need to score 132 across all four sections, which would give you a total overall score of 528.
You might have previously heard that to get a perfect score on the MCAT, you need to score a 45. This pertains to the old type of MCAT, which isn’t used for college admissions anymore. The new exam and new scoring methods were rolled out in 2015, so they haven’t been used for nearly as long a period of time, but you can view our guide on the MCAT score conversion to understand how they compare. That said, in both the old and new MCATs, less than one percent of the test takers achieved a perfect score.
Related: Check Out the 18 Easiest Med Schools to Get Into
Is it Possible to Get a Perfect Score?
It is theoretically possible to achieve a perfect score on the MCAT. Unlike tests such as the NCLEX, which are pass/fail and based on CAT technology, the MCAT’s questions are the same for everyone. This means that everyone is graded using the same metric. You’ll be told what percentile of test takers you fall into when your test is scored. As previously mentioned, fewer than 1% of test takers manage to achieve a perfect score. In fact, fewer than 1% of test takers manage to get a perfect score on any one of the four sections, let alone on all four sections combined.
But you shouldn’t let that discourage you. There are ways to increase your chances of a perfect score. If you spend a good amount of time on “high yield” topics that you’ll see on the MCAT, you are more likely to achieve a perfect score. “High yield” topics are topics on which there will be multiple questions during the MCAT. One example is amino acids; you’re almost guaranteed to see three or more questions that ask you to differentiate between amino acids. By putting extra study time into amino acids, you’ll have a broader scope of knowledge when you take the MCAT, and therefore will be more likely to achieve a perfect score.
What a Perfect MCAT Score Can Mean for You
If you get a perfect score on the MCAT, medical schools will be extremely impressed by your knowledge and prowess. That said, a perfect score isn’t required to strengthen your medical school application. Other factors play into admission such as quality volunteer hours and GPA. It is so difficult to achieve a perfect score that doing so (for a total overall score of 528) puts you in the percentile rankings above almost every other test taker. The only exceptions are the very, very few that tie with you by achieving a perfect score.
When you score a 523 or higher, you’re in the 100th percentile of test takers. This means that you’ve tested better than one hundred percent of other students who took the MCAT. Medical schools examine your percentile range more than they look at your actual on-paper score. Scores between 523 and 528 are in the 100th percentile range, which is as high as you can get. There’s no significant difference noted between achieving a 528 and achieving a 523. Granted, achieving a 528 does give you significant bragging rights.
A Few Tips To Help Towards a Perfect MCAT Score:
With all of that established, here are some ways you can increase your chances of a perfect or near-perfect MCAT score:
1. Use your coursework to study.
Your overall college experience should be tailored to help you study for the MCAT. You should be enrolled in classes that cover humanities, psychology, physics, biochemistry, biology, and chemistry. Start with this list of the courses to take before the MCAT. Study all of the material taught in these classes as thoroughly as you possibly can. If you have the chance and the wherewithal to take on higher level courses, you should do so. Going into the MCAT with a wealth of expert knowledge across multiple medical-related topics is the best way to yield a high score.
2. Begin preparing for the MCAT early and thoroughly.
Some people have studied for their MCATs only two months or one month before the test is taken. Some people have even scraped by through studying only a week before the test. But to get the best results, you’ll want to start studying much earlier. The MCAT covers a huge range of material, much broader than you can cover with two months of dedicated studying.
Experts recommend beginning to study three months or more before the test. This allows you a wider range of time to thoroughly review all of the material that might be covered on the test. If you’re determined to get a perfect score, you should give up your summer break for studying. When you aren’t distracted by coursework, you have all that time open for basic review. MCAT prep can range from practicing on a Qbank like Lecturio, doing your own home study program, or diving into a live or in-person class.
Check out this seasonal guide on when to take the MCAT.
3. Get a lot of rest the night before the test.
It’s exhausting to study for the MCAT, especially if your goal is to achieve a perfect score. Undue stress can increase your chances of silly mistakes, and stress also reduces your retention of your study materials. For this reason, it’s important to take care of yourself. Take breaks from studying when you can; don’t push your brain to retain more at one time than it can handle. Eat healthy foods. In the weeks leading up to the test, but especially the night before the test, make sure you go to bed in a timely manner and get at least eight hours of sleep.