The road to getting into medical school can oftentimes be very difficult and long. Most students who apply to medical school don’t get in! The AAMC’s 2020 data shows that out of the 53,030 applicants only 22,239 matriculated into medical school. That’s only 42%!
What this means is that there are lots and lots of students who reapply. Plenty of my friends have applied more than once before getting in.
The longer it takes you to get into medical school, the older your MCAT scores get. Perhaps you didn’t take the MCAT since junior year of college and now it’s a few years old.
How long are these MCAT scores valid? Do I need to retake the MCAT?
How Long Are MCAT Scores Valid?
MCAT scores never expire, but they are only valid for so long.
How long exactly? Well that depends on the specific medical schools. Every school decides how old of an MCAT score they will accept.
Most medical schools will not accept MCAT scores that are older than 2-3 years old. Generally speaking, more competitive medical schools will be closer to that 2-year mark while less competitive schools will be closer to 3.
This is not very long, so make sure you plan on applying to medical school very soon after you take the MCAT!
Always Check Every Medical School Admissions Qualifications
For every medical school you apply to, make sure you are carefully checking their admission requirements when it comes to older MCAT scores. You can view every “MD” medical school requirement on the MSAR.
Also, make sure you are careful to check whether or not the medical school is accepting an MCAT score 2-3 years before the start of the application cycle or from the matriculation date you are applying for.
Matriculation is 1 year after you start your application so that can definitely affect things. Generally speaking, the most common cut-off is 3 years before matriculation.
Do Medical Schools Look At Old MCAT Scores
So we know that medical schools typically only consider MCAT scores valid that are 2-3 years old. But does this mean they won’t look at any of your old scores?
Unfortunately, no. So if you have an old bad MCAT score this will be seen. The AAMC provides medical schools with all of the MCAT test scores dating back to 1991. Therefore, technically medical schools will see these.
Only the recent scores are valid, however, keep in mind that every medical school is looking at your application holistically. If you are a student that has shown a great deal of improvement, then older MCAT scores that are not as good can factor into this judgment.
But if you did really well on previous MCATs but not so good on the most recent one, this could cause medical school admissions committees to scratch their heads.
How Long Are MCAT Scores Valid For DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) Schools?
Although this information is less readily available than it is with MD schools, DO schools tend to have the same 2-3 year expiration dates for MCAT scores. Although some DO schools do not post this information online which leads me to believe that they may not have an expiration.
Your best bet is to call the school directly if you can’t obtain this information online!
Should You Delay Applying To Medical School?
Let’s say your most recent MCAT score is starting to get old and now you need to consider either rushing your medical school application to make sure your score is valid or delaying and having to retake the MCAT.
This is a very difficult question that many premed students struggle with! That’s why I wrote a highly detailed post on everything you need to consider about taking a gap year before medical school.
There are pros and cons to taking a gap year and your decision to delay applying should be carefully considered.
If taking a gap year and delaying medical school applications forces you to retake the MCAT, this might not be such a terrible thing. Consider the fact that if you are out of school you can devote much more time to the MCAT. Maybe you can score even better!
MCAT scores will stay with you forever, but they are only valid to medical schools for about 2 to 3 years.
The general rule of thumb is to assume your score is only valid for 3 years from MATRICULATION into medical school. Therefore 2 years from the start of applications. But of course, always consult each medical school’s application requirements. This is easily found on the AAMC’s MSAR.