MCAT Score Conversion: What’s Changed?
The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is the standardized test that assesses students preparing for medical school. The test went through a substantial change in 2015, during which the focus shifted from testing knowledge itself to testing how well examinees use what they know. In addition to this, the way in which the exam is scored changed dramatically.
Prior to 2015, the final scores ranged between 3 and 45, with a score of over 39 being designated as the 100th percentile. The new scoring method looks at the total of the four individual sections, with each section having a centered score of 125 and a range of 118 to 132. The scoring focuses on the center of the scales, since students who score in this range are generally more likely to complete medical school, and it provides a way to draw attention to applicants that may otherwise be overlooked.
With the emphasis on scales, institutions and individuals may struggle to determine what their actual score is. For this reason, the score will also include a percentile ranking, which shows how the testee’s individual score compares to his or her peers who have previously taken the exam. This essentially means that an identical score can have different rankings depending upon the overall results of all test takers. And this fact means that institutions will have to take all of this information into account rather than looking for a fixed number as a minimum requirement.
In addition to the aforementioned changes, the final score report will include much more detailed information, such as confidence bands that show the accuracy of the total and section scores and score profiles that highlight the applicants’ strengths and weaknesses as determined by the test.
While these changes can provide much more informed data to universities about potential students, scoring the test and then providing an accurate analysis of the score will remain challenging. Despite this, the changes will likely lead to better assessments and feedback about how well applicants are projected to do in medical school.