Welcome to College Confidential!

The leading college-bound community on the web

Sign Up For Free

Join for FREE, and start talking with other members, weighing in on community discussions, and more.

Also, by registering and logging in you'll see fewer ads and pesky welcome messages (like this one!)

As a CC member, you can:

  • Reply to threads, and start your own.
  • Post reviews of your campus visits.
  • Find hundreds of pages of informative articles.
  • Search from over 3 million scholarships.
Please take a moment to read our updated TOS, Privacy Policy, and Forum Rules.

how hard is the MCAT REALLY?

babygrl9205babygrl9205 . Posts: 596 Member
edited April 2010 in MCAT Prep
I know medicine is a tough field to major in so i was wondering if I would be able to get a good score on the MCAT (30+) to go to schools like NYU, USC, Claremont, Northwestern type schools. I'm not in the top 10 percent of my class but im in the top 15%. It seems like only genius people would pass it because everyone says its so hard. I dont know if thats true or not but what can u compare it to?

for instance, is it like studying a chemistry class in college or high school and being tested on what u learned? (except uve taken several classes and its going to be on all of that). Or is it more like an SAT where u just have to know it and learn what u dont know?
Post edited by babygrl9205 on

Replies to: how hard is the MCAT REALLY?

  • mmmcdowemmmcdowe Registered User Posts: 2,353 Senior Member
    The MCAT is two parts in its difficulty. First, you have to know a lot of material, mostly basic stuff but there is still a lot of it. Then, you have to APPLY that material to the content on the MCAT. Some of the questions are just content regurgitation, but other parts require critical thinking as well. The MCAT exam itself isn't that hard necessarily, what makes it had is the curve. You could bust out some MCAT level questions right now and quite possible get a decent number right. Getting a 32 means scoring better than 85+% of people that take the exam, that's what makes the MCAT hard on top of the need for critical thinking. In verbal reasoning especially, getting above a 11 is essentially getting 4 or less wrong on that section.
  • atardecer0atardecer0 Registered User Posts: 136 Junior Member
    Just an FYI, the MCAT is actually NOT scored on a curve, as AAMC explicitly says on their website.
  • mmmcdowemmmcdowe Registered User Posts: 2,353 Senior Member
    The MCAT is indeed not scored by curving it is scored by scaling. However there is a curve representing how all students do numerically, with most people falling between the outliers (essentially the scaled score is itself curved. The scale is not set, but varies from exam to exam- though this might mainly be because of the fact that there are test questions that aren't counted. Even if that is the only reason for differences in scaling the fact that there are a couple of points per scale means that essentially one harder or easier question doesn't really matter just like a normal curve is designed to do). So while the direct score is not curved relative to other test takers that day, you can place yourself on a curve showing how you did relative to all tests taken because the whole purpose of scaling is to make sure that there is a universal standard of MCAT difficulty and that everyone is on the same curve regardless of when they took it. This allows you to say a 32 to was around the 85th percentile of test takers.

    Here is the "curve":
  • MiamiDAPMiamiDAP Registered User Posts: 16,184 Senior Member
    My D. has taken 2 practice tests as part of her Kaplan MCAT prep. class. She said that MCAT is extremely hard. Fortunately, she does not need very high score (she needs 27) and it gives her great peice of mind. GPA apparently has some connection, but it lloks like MCAT prep. needs to be taken seriously. D's college GPA=4.0 so far.
  • babygrl9205babygrl9205 . Posts: 596 Member
    omg thats scary. so what happens if u score below the 30's? do u just not get into a well-known school like vanderbilt or USC?
  • mmmcdowemmmcdowe Registered User Posts: 2,353 Senior Member
    Well, if you score below 30 you might not get into any MD school at all, depending on your state of residency. If you have a strong app otherwise it isn't impossible, but its always better to be on the other side of the curve. DO schools are also an option.
  • MiamiDAPMiamiDAP Registered User Posts: 16,184 Senior Member
    It does not really matter, which Med. School you go in the USA.
  • babygrl9205babygrl9205 . Posts: 596 Member
    are the mcat's like sats...if you study the books more and know more about the topics in general, you can improve your score? I went from a 1500 to an 1850 on my sat's (after studying). the first time was without studying.
  • MiamiDAPMiamiDAP Registered User Posts: 16,184 Senior Member
    SAT/ACT are very very easy. But, MCAT score will improve if you spend time preparing, this is the only common point in comparison to SAT/ACT. From D's comments, there are no "general" staff on MCAT, got to know very detailed information. Well, maybe there are geniuses out there who can do it w/o prep, but I talk about average pre-med with high GPA (if you do not have GPA, then there is no point of applying to Med. School anyway)
  • babygrl9205babygrl9205 . Posts: 596 Member
    welll i wouldn't say sat's/act's are very very easy lol or i would've gotten a score of the 2000's. With preparation, i could've done better i guess..but would u say if u get over a 3.5 gpa, it's worth striving to score better on the mcats?
  • bluedevilmikebluedevilmike Registered User Posts: 11,964 Senior Member
    GPA and MCAT aren't linked closely enough to make such a comparison.
  • mmmcdowemmmcdowe Registered User Posts: 2,353 Senior Member
    If you score above a 3.5, then all you could really say is that it is worth taking a shot at the MCAT. If you had, say, a 2.9, then rather than saying you can't do well on the MCAT I would say first work to on your GPA before worrying about the MCAT. The point I'm trying to make is that a MCAT score can only do so much for a bad GPA. I agree that they aren't tightly correlated, and you need to ultimately have decent numbers in both areas. So first focus on the GPA and, when you have it, worry about the MCAT.
  • MiamiDAPMiamiDAP Registered User Posts: 16,184 Senior Member
    "but would u say if u get over a 3.5 gpa, it's worth striving to score better on the mcats?"

    - I agree with BDM "GPA and MCAT aren't linked closely enough to make such a comparison.' . As I mentioned D's college GPA=4.0 so far and she considers MCAT exceptionally hard even after going thru 2/3 of material at her MCAT prep. class. And yes, SAT/ACT were very very easy. However, she belives in prep for any test and she spent one week self-preparing for ACT. I myslelf have looked at ACT, most questions are middle school material and many do not realise that they forgot material by the time they take SAT/ACT in HS, that is the reason for preparing if you want to have high score.
  • PharmagalPharmagal Registered User Posts: 1,266 Senior Member

    If your DD is testing Kaplan's tests, I could attest that these are way too difficult.
    My DS complained and complained about Kaplan's difficulty. He actually prepped with examcrackers instead. His early test scores with Kaptest were discouraging but he did great on EC and AAMC tests. He did pretty well on the actual MCAT and got a 38. So, advise your D to try all AAMC tests and use Examcrackers for practice.
  • atardecer0atardecer0 Registered User Posts: 136 Junior Member
    @Pharmagal: my only comment is that "pretty well" does not adequately describe how well your S did. Although I am certain you KNOW that he did exceptionally, I just want to let you know that a score of 38 is approximately 99th percentile.

    @MiamiDAP: I agree completely with Pharmagal in respect to the difficulty of Kaplan tests. Kaplan actually sells a book that's full of "the hardest" questions you'll see on the MCAT but they treat it as if you should be getting all of them correct. Although I have yet to get my score--released next week--for the January test, I would say that ExamKrackers seemed to be most on par with the difficultly level of the actual MCAT.

    That being said, however, I would suggest to anyone prepping for the MCAT to take the full-length computer based practice tests at e-mcat.com. Not only are they ACTUAL exams from previous testing days, but they also use the same interface as the real MCAT, which means no surprises or acclimation required on the day of the test.
This discussion has been closed.