***2018-19 Medical School Applicants and Their Parents***

home state: PA, results come July 31, individual rec letters, I think for this round he plans to try for MD schools, and if he doesn’t get in, try DO schools next round. We heard that DO schools is a different application and requires a letter from a DO, which my son doesn’t know any.

I love your name mom worried! :slight_smile: AMCAS last practice exam: Total: 502, CARS 122, Chem/Phys: 128, Psy/Soc: 127, Bio/Biochem: 127.

@oxfordtennismom this is going to sound harsh, but why in the world would he go in for the real exam if he was was getting such a low score at home? I’ve seen this time and again. Kids thinking that they will somehow magically get a better score on the test day. Normally it just doesn’t happen. How many practice tests did he take before the test and were they all this low or the last one was a fluke?

My friend’s kid is applying this cycle. He’s a very smart but a bad test taker. He was getting low 500s on practice test. On the last test he got a 510. It was a one time thing though. Kept getting low 500s afterwards. I advised him not to take the test but he went in anyway. After the test he felt that he did really badly. But somehow he got a 513! So miracles do happen.

Good luck to your son and hopefully he pulls out another miracle.

Pa is a tough state without any true instate publics… Pitt and Temple have high admission stats. Penn State
Hershey is slightly lower but has only a small instate bias. Penn is private so no help there. Geisinger is mission oriented with a particular eye for applicants with service to rural communities. Would your son fit Geisingers mission?

A CARS below 125 will get him auto screened out at a good number of schools.

DO is a separate application service, AACOMAS. Not all DO programs require a DO letter; many of those that do will accept a letter from a MD. But your son should make an effort to find a DO to shadow in the near term future. Just in case. Philly and a Pittsburgh have tons of practicing DOs. Time to start cold calling.

He should research PCOM— which is one of the best osteopathic med schools in the country— and instate to boot.

Given your son’s low practice scores, he should NOT submit to AMCAS because the risk of applying with a poor score. Re applicants face tougher scrutiny than first time applicants and have a higher bar to jump. A 502 simply is not competitive for MD programs.

What are your son’s plans for the coming year? Is he still in school or has he graduated?

Thanks Momworried and way-outwest mom for your thoughts. My son is a rising senior and had not wanted to take a gap year. He had all his letters of recommendation ready to go and applied this past Monday. He knew he wasn’t getting the MCAT score he wanted after several practice tests, but since he had really wanted to apply this cycle vs gap year and all his application was in place for this year, we encouraged him to take it and see since it was getting late in the application window. We were hoping with his 3.97 cgpa and 3.93 sgpa would help offset that he has never been a good standardized test taker, and we didn’t know if he’d raise his scores much if he did give himself more time. So the rationale was to try this cycle and if not successful, try again next year. Perhaps that was in our error. Thanks for the info about the DO schools. I just feel bad how busy of a process this is. Seems never-ending. He’s now working on secondaries for the slim chance someone will give him a chance. We’ll have to look at PCOM. Not sure if they require a DO letter. Regarding MCAT’s, he seems to have a hard time with CARS and experiments in the other sections. He first started studying a little last Sept, picked it up a little this past Jan, and went full throttle at end of April when his spring semester finished, studying about 10-12 hours a day. He is a really hard worker and studied a lot. We kept pushing back the test dates (first was April, then May, then early June). He finally took it June 30th. This is all a lesson learned for when my second d needs to go through this. :0 FYI, he is a student at Pitt and his father and two uncles are both alumni from Jefferson Medical College. So were are hoping some folks will give him the chance despite his MCAT score. If it comes in bad and he doesn’t get accepted, he plans to study again and retake it next spring I think.

CARS is the section where you can’t raise the score significantly in a short timeframe (particular for science kids). Often med school admission tends to more leninant on CARS than other sections. How was your son prep’d for MCAT (class, tutor…)? If he scored higher in other sections, it can offset a lower CARS. I know someone with a 514 (CARS 124) got accepted this cycle by in-state schools (NY) and a private (with some scholarship money) with a 3.9x GPA.

Generally a high GPA won’t offset a subpar MCAT. A slightly lower one, sometimes; significantly lower, no.

CARS is the one area of that does not respond to quick fixes. Critical reading skills take lots of time and practice to improve.

Good luck to your son on his journey.

@oxfordtennismom if your son ends up having to retake the MCAT and reapply, he might want to look into an MCAT prep course. They are pricey, and some students can do just as well self-studying. But if self studying isn’t showing improvements in practice tests, it might be worth it. My D is not a great standardized test taker, and self studying did not work well for her on the MCAT. We decided to pay for a prep course which she did online, and her subsequent retake was a respectable score and she ended up getting 3 med school acceptances. She said the main benefit for her was the course helped her approach the test differently and use different strategies than she was using.

Good luck to your son, I hope this application cycle has a positive outcome for him.

androvw and dheldreth, My son did take a Kaplan prep class live online, he’s finding out some things he’s liked and others not as helpful, and has turned to other resources. thanks for everyones support.


Here is some strategies to improve your CARS


Your S probably should also look at the DO schools, LECOM has a lower admission rate and is In State. He should consider that as a safety(?), although no med school is a safety.

MCAT in-classroom classes may not be effective depending on the instructor, not sure how online classes run. We found private tutor (especially good one that has previous successful track records) much better, although they are expensive ($100/hr) but we only needed 2 sessions per week (each session can run 1-2 hrs). If your son has a strong science background (bio, chem, phy) then the tutor’s function is mainly keep everything on-schedule and help out the weak areas. One summer was all it needed to achieve 515 (practice FL tests were 510 + or - couple points). What FL (full-length) tests did your son try? We used Next Step and AAMC.

Thanks. He took Kaplan practice tests and saved it to the end to use the aamc exams.

he can still get in with a 502 mcat. see the attached grid


Defintely have him apply to some of the less competitive programs. here is another grid


Reapplying for the MCAT is worthwhile for some kids. AAMC data shows about a 3 point improvement for lower scores.

@skalmadi adi

3 points is the SEm for the MCAT. (Which means a 3 point improvement is not a meaningful improvement)

Also AMCAS recommends that med schools average all MCAT attempts for each applicant. Most mes school follow AMCAS’s guidance in this area.

@WayOutWestMom @iwannabe_Brown
Obviously a strong score from single sitting is best, but do you think med schools just say/give lip service that they average to appease AMCAS? Adcoms are humans and two scores, especially widely different, you have to wonder what it means, yeah?.

@Jugulator20 When I was screening apps for interviews, they were scored based on highest single sitting. I would occasionally mention the super score if it would be really different. Never did a straight average.

n = 1, but my D had 2 MCAT scores that were not great, probably would have screened her out. She then took it a 3rd time after taking a prep course, and did significantly better. She got IIs followed by acceptances at 3 MD schools. The MCAT was discussed at interviews, and it was the highest score that they looked at.

“One and done” is absolutely the best advice, but if that ship has sailed, a subsequent better MCAT can improve your chances.


For reporting purposes (US News, AAMC data reports, etc), med schools always use the highest MCAT regardless of their internal score policy. (Because it makes them look more competitive.) But for adcomm discussion/decision purposes, some schools do and some don’t. Several of the adcomms posting on SDN report that their schools definitely average since that’s the best indicator of future standardized exam (USMLE) performance. (Several studies have specifically examined at this and that was their conclusion.)

AMCAS can recommend, but neither AAMC nor the LCME has any power to regulate how individual med schools use/weight MCAT scores in admissions. It’s not an issue/topic covered by LCME or AAMC guidelines, nor something that’s examined for accreditation. Individual schools are not require to report their policy to AMCAS or to any reporting/accrediting organization. MSAR doesn’t list any information about how schools handle multiple MCATs and neither do individual school admission webpages. That info is available, but only to individuals who contact a med school and ask specifically about their multiple MCAT policies.

So, no, I don’t think schools say they average just to appease AMCAS.

But as you said–two wildly different scores? It would be natural to wonder which one’s the fluke.

Also, from my brief experience seeing applicants’ scores, unless the sittings are separated by >9 months, the score is rarely significantly different. I.e. the students who take it during junior spring and then take it again junior summer to try and still apply that cycle don’t end up helping themselves at all. Even with significant time many don’t raise their score much, but short turnaround time between tests was a highly sensitive predictor for “no improvement”

EDIT: and I’m fairly certain my school openly says to applicants they consider the best MCAT sitting.

Did i miss the big reveal about what school this is. :smiley: