Understanding Average MCAT Scores: What You Need to Know

Published on: May 1, 2024
Share Article


Lucas Moddrell

Dr. Baran Erdik


Dr. Baran Erdik

Among the many requirements of medical school admissions, the MCAT score is undeniably one of the most important. The test is available multiple times throughout the year and focuses on core knowledge and skillsets that are vital to the field of medicine.

This article will offer a comprehensive breakdown of the average MCAT scores (which I’ve updated for 2024) and how the MCAT score will impact your path forward in medical school.

Understanding the MCAT

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) has quite a bit of historical significance. It isn't a test that was drummed up in recent years, as the MCAT has been a part of the medical school admission process for over 90 years. Although the test is detailed, the MCAT focuses on a few key areas that cover many different angles of practicing medicine.

These four sections include:

  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems (CPBS)

  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems (BBLS)

  • Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior (PSBB)

  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS)

The MCAT scoring system is relatively unique. Test takers will receive five scores in total, one for each test section and a combined total score.

For each section, testers can score anywhere from 118 to 132, and the scores from each section will be added up for a final total score. The end number is a determining factor of the Medical College Admission Test, and it generally takes 30 to 35 days for test scores to be reported.1

The MCAT score isn't the only important aspect of medical school admissions, but it is a determining factor. Applicants should know that medical schools consider an outline called the Anatomy of an Application. This highlights 15 core competencies that demonstrate various qualities that admissions committees value.

Looking at individual scores is bound to vary quite a bit, but considering what medical schools require, average MCAT scores don’t historically change too much. Regarding average MCAT scores for the 2023-2024 admission cycle, these are sitting at an average of 506.3.2

The Medical College Admission Test averages for each test section look a bit different:

  • CBPS: 126.4

  • CARS: 125.8

  • BBLS: 126.6

  • PSBB: 127.4

Of course, once all of those are added together, you get a historically accurate MCAT score, for the most part. You can also look at this from another angle, as MCAT scores are guaranteed to show unique differences depending on the medical school in question.

For example, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School carry some of the highest average MCAT scores for 2024. However, plenty of other prestigious medical schools are right alongside them.

Here’s a brief comparison of the highest average MCAT scores across several well-known medical schools:3

  • Harvard Medical School: 520.59

  • Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine: 521

  • Stanford University School of Medicine: 518

  • University of California - Los Angeles: 516

  • Washington University: 519.5

Going back to averages for M.D. admissions, some years see better average MCAT scores than others. However, these figures are close with each passing year, highlighting the importance students put on the test across the board. 

The following data highlights average MCAT scores for previous years:


Average MCAT Score













Although these numbers shift slightly from one year to the next, they remain relatively similar. This is partly because test takers understand what range benefits them with most modern M.D. programs. While there are several important considerations in the medical school application process, good MCAT scores carry a lot of weight for numerous reasons.

Importance of MCAT Scores in Medical School Admissions

Focusing on the MCAT score is only one focal point, as each medical college tends to add its internal processes into the mix. Prospective students need to consider the range of their MCAT scores and pay attention to each school's application instructions. To highlight a few examples, we can examine details regarding MCAT admissions requirements between a couple of notable medical schools.

  • Wayne State University requires the MCAT to be taken by September of the application year. In addition, the various scores from MCAT exams taken within the last three years will be considered individually. For the most streamlined approach, Wayne State University advises applicants to take their MCAT exam in the spring before the application date.

  • Baylor College of Medicine: It’s helpful that Baylor doesn’t come with any minimum MCAT score requirements to apply. However, looking at historical data can give you a good idea of the score ranges the medical college tends to accept. Aside from that, the admissions committee will only review the most recent test scores.

  • Brown University Warren Alpert Medical School: Potential candidates send in their AMCAS application before October 7th to be eligible for the upcoming year. There are no minimum requirements for the applicant’s MCAT score. Then again, it’s helpful to note that the median MCAT score for this school in recent years has been 515 to 516.

The unique requirements around good MCAT scores and applications will vary depending on which medical school you're considering. It can feel daunting at times, but that’s why it’s so vital to go through the fine print in each medical school’s application requirements.4

Once again, while MCAT scores are essential for medical school, there are other considerations for those on the admissions committee. Applicants should also focus on their GPA and details like letters of recommendation, personal statements, and extracurricular activities. Even as medical schools continue to innovate, these are considered traditional staples of the holistic admissions process.

Many schools boast a relatively consistent average MCAT score year after year. However, there are others who are known to sit at the top for a reason, with minimum and competitive MCAT scores that catch the attention of many potential students.

While schools like Vanderbilt University don't require a minimum MCAT score, most, if not all, of their accepted applicants fall in the 74th to 100th percentile.5 However, the Giesel School at Dartmouth College comes with a minimum MCAT score requirement of 503 to apply.6

Beyond the Numbers: Other Critical Admissions Factors

With the MCAT being a major discussion topic for prospective medical students, the AMCAS application, personal statements, and other details are just as important. The AMCAS application highlights information about academic background, extracurricular activities, and more.

A personal statement requires considerable thought, as it spotlights points from a professional and personal perspective. Highlighting ambitious qualities, motivations for the medical field, and similar aspects regarding aspirations is crucial here.

While test scores and other technical standards are vital requirements for any potential medical student, there's something to be said about the details beyond test scores. Those on the admission committee are looking for the most well-rounded individuals, considering the medical pertains to dealing with people from all walks of life.

Some universities that boast a more lenient take on MCAT scores in the application process include Tufts University and Edward Via College. Tufts University considers MCAT scores taken within five years preceding enrollment.7

Moreover, the college also offers the benefit of interview slots that extend past the usual September deadline. This gives applicants with late MCAT scores a chance to interview, but this route is guaranteed to come with delays in consideration and completion.

For Edward Via College, admissions find it important to focus on the medical profession and its mission rather than test score numbers alone. Although they require a minimum MCAT score of 496, this score is balanced with the GPA and an array of non-cognitive college-specific factors.8

Strategies for Improving Your MCAT Score

As a starting point, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) offers plenty of resources to prepare for the MCAT exam. First and foremost, creating a consistent study plan that blends well into your everyday life is essential.

Here are a few tips you can use to improve your MCAT score:

  • Stick to a consistent study plan

  • Consider the score you want and the MCAT requirements for the desired college

  • Always start studying as early as possible

  • Optimize study methods from study groups, isolated study, mornings, nights, etc.

  • Make use of practice tests provided by the AAMC

  • Register once you feel prepared and have given yourself enough time

There’s nothing wrong with utilizing your own study methods, but the resources provided by the AAMC preview provide everything you need in a comprehensive manner. Working through financial aid efforts, the AAMC also offers the Fee Assistance Program.

Students who are deemed eligible receive reduced fees for MCAT registration and free access to a variety of MCAT prep resources. This program is the direct cause of the success of many once-aspiring young physicians. Although this article heavily emphasizes the importance of healthy MCAT scores, there's still significance behind lower test scores.

Addressing Low MCAT Scores

It’s understandable to want to aim for the best MCAT score possible, but sometimes, this isn’t the reality. Plenty of students end up on the lower spectrum of MCAT scores, but that doesn’t mean they’re automatically written off, among other things.

That’s why other factors, such as your GPA, personal statement, and recommendation letters, are equally, if not more important. Many med schools are happy to consider applicants with low MCAT scores, and many continue to do so.

However, it’s advisable to convey the potential reasonings behind lower test scores to the admissions office. Noting other important qualities about your knowledge and skillsets can help override the look of a less-than-favorable MCAT score.

Edward Via College is a good example because of its minimum MCAT score requirements. 496 isn’t terrible, but it does sit in the 32nd percentile. Then again, this shows the many medical students who were accepted into a college, even with an MCAT score that’s considered lower than what other institutions require.

It's also another testament to the importance of other qualities as a student and future medical professional. While MCAT scores are important, they aren't the end-all for students.

The Path Forward: Applying to Medical School

Applying to medical school can be a smooth process, as it generally comes with several steps. It should be understood that application steps can vary quite a bit from one med school to another, but there’s a general resemblance to most of the steps.

  1. AMCAS Application: For those in their first year at participating U.S. medical education institutions, the AMCAS application is a necessary part of this process. It's the centralized medical school application processing service for the AAMC. Most medical schools in the U.S. utilize the AMCAS as their primary application method for entering students.

  2. Review Requirements: Students should take stock of their preferred college's application requirements before anything else. This includes the steps required to be considered for acceptance into their medical program.

  3. Submit Your Application: Some med schools will have unique steps to take through their application process. For the most part, students can expect to provide transcripts, MCAT scores, and other related details.

  4. Letters of Recommendation: It is vital to include one or more letters of recommendation with the application. These letters are often required to come from pre-medical faculty members, advisors, and others who may be familiar with the applicant's academic abilities.

  5. Schedule the Interview: After completing the application, students will then be considered for an interview. If accepted, applicants are generally notified by email or by phone.

Some med schools are specific with certain details of their application instructions. For example, Emory University weighs heavily on the requirements for letters of recommendation. In contrast, medical colleges like Duke University highlight the importance of many unique academic requirements. These details may sound rather complicated, but they're necessary to create a well-rounded medical professional.

The Bottom Line

It’s understandable why aspiring physicians are concerned about their MCAT scores, but it’s important to remember that they aren’t always the nail in the coffin. Medical colleges consider a wide variety of factors, each with its own nuances and application requirements.

No matter how you look at it, the journey through medical school is tough. However, the rewarding pursuit of a medical career is more than worth the time and effort.

Written by:

Lucas Moddrell

With over seven years of experience in writing technical content across numerous industries, Lucas has a knack for detailed information and storytelling. This is seen through his work as a medical writer. Between his experience in writing and history with research and development, Lucas is able to convey complex medical topics into reader-friendly content.

This technical approach stems from his time working in laboratory environments. Stemming from his education at CSAS and UCO, Lucas has always been interested in furthering his topical knowledge. Through his writing and genuine interest in research, he's able to deliver a consistent voice across many technical topics so that they're easier for the reader to digest.

Lucas Moddrell

Contributing Writer

Reviewed by:

Dr. Baran Erdik, MD, MHPA

Dr. Baran Erdik is an M.D. with specialized training in Internal Medicine/Cardiology. Dr. Erdik traveled the world, working as a physician in New Zealand, Germany and Washington State. Dr. Erdik completed a Master’s in Healthcare Administration and Policy from Washington State University, graduating summa cum laude and now consults with healthcare facilities. In his "spare time", Dr. Erdik is a professor at the American Vision University in California.

Dr. Baran Erdik

Dr. Baran Erdik, MD, MHPA

Internist and Cardiologist

Education: Doctor of Medicine (MD) - Yeditepe University

Knowledge: Internal medicine, cardiology, healthcare policy