What are MCAT RAW Scores?

February 20, 2024

minute read

The MCAT could be one of the most challenging exams you would have to take. However, as someone aspiring to be a future physician, it is safe to assume that you have devoted a lot of effort to ensure that you do well on the exam. After all, no one wants to retake the MCAT

But aside from preparing and studying for the different subjects required for the MCAT, another aspect of the exam you must be aware of before taking it, is how it is scored. 

Understanding the elements of your MCAT score report is crucial for you and the admissions committees, who will use it to determine whether you are prepared to succeed in the medical school curriculum.

This article is an explanation of what MCAT raw scores are. If you are interested and want to know more, please keep reading.

What is the MCAT?

The MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) is one of the most crucial exams for medical school admissions. Nearly all medical colleges in the United States and Canada need admission through this computer-based multiple-choice exam, which is standardized.

The AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges), which supervises the MCAT, provides medical schools with criteria for assessing and comparing applicants' credentials and readiness for medical school. 

Based on your MCAT score and GPA, admissions committees assess the strength of your academic background.

What are the Four Sections of the MCAT? 

The MCAT has four sections.

In the first three sections, questions will test your scientific knowledge and reasoning abilities in organic chemistry, general chemistry, introductory biology, introductory physics, psychology, biochemistry, and sociology

In the final component, your reading, comprehension, and interpretation skills about ideas on humanities and social sciences. 

Listed below are the four sections of the MCAT:

How is the MCAT Scored?

The number of questions you properly answer on each of the four multiple-choice sections makes up your MCAT scores.

Incorrect answers are not deducted from your final score because they are evaluated in the same way as unanswered questions. 

Therefore, give your best guess even if you are unsure of the answer because providing an incorrect answer won't result in further consequences. 

Your converted score, for instance, can be 123 if your number of accurate scores on one of the sections is between 35 and 37. A converted score of 128 might be assigned to an accurate number score between 46 and 48, and so forth.

Your success on the MCAT exam is unaffected by the particular form you used, the test-takers you were partnered with, the test date, or the time of year because any difference in difficulty level is considered when computing your scaled scores.

What are MCAT Raw Scores? 

The number of questions you correctly answer determines your MCAT raw scores on the four multiple-choice parts of the exam. 

For example, out of the 230 questions on the MCAT, if you get 201 correct answers, your MCAT raw score is 201. 

Your MCAT raw score is unaffected by incorrect responses, which are assessed similarly to unsolved questions. That is why even if you are unsure of the proper answer to a question, you should offer your best estimate because there is no additional penalty for incorrect replies.

You undoubtedly knew your raw score on many tests you took in high school and college since you could see exactly how many questions you correctly answered. 

Since most MCAT practice exams let you go back and review correct and incorrect answers, you can also see your MCAT raw score there.

The real MCAT is unlike any test you've ever taken in several respects, but the scoring is the same.

You will be unable to determine how many questions you successfully answered because the AAMC does not publish MCAT raw scores. You will see your scaled score in its place.

What are MCAT Scaled Scores?

                         Sample MCAT Score Report
The highlighted part shows the scaled score of the candidate.

Your MCAT raw score is represented uniformly by your scaled score. This is because each MCAT part has a specified number of correct responses that translate into a scaled score. 

Your MCAT score is then calculated by adding the scores from each component. 

Each section's total scaled score falls between 118 and 132, and the MCAT's overall scaled score falls between 472 and 528. You are probably wondering what these predefined raw numbers correspond to the scaled numbers. 

Unfortunately, because AAMC does not, and for a good reason, publish their raw to scaled score conversion charts, it is difficult to know.

Be aware that a scaled score differs from a curved score. 

Unfortunately, when students learn that the MCAT is scaled, they occasionally think that scaled implies the same thing as curved. They believe that to get a decent score, they must perform better than other test-takers.

If the test were curved, your grade would be determined by how you performed in relation to other test-takers on the same day. This is untrue, and it would not be fair. 

The MCAT exam is NOT evaluated on a curve, according to AAMC, which is one of the most significant points to remember about the scoring procedure. 

In contrast, the MCAT exam is scaled and equal, meaning results are equivalent regardless of when you take the test.

If the test were curved, this would imply that those students who took it on the same day and were extremely well prepared would perform worse than those who took it on a different day and were less prepared. 

Your percentile rank, not your scaled score, will show you how well you did in relation to other students.

Why are MCAT Raw Scores Converted to MCAT Scaled Scores?

You could see any of the numerous distinct test forms that are given out in a given testing year on the day of your exam. 

Although each exam form has a different collection of questions, they are all intended to test the same fundamental knowledge and abilities. 

Despite all efforts being taken to ensure that the difficulty of each form is roughly similar, one form may be somewhat more or less challenging than another. 

Small changes in question difficulty between sets of questions are made up for by converting the number of correct scores to scaled scores using a procedure called equating.

Because each conversion is customized to the particular collection of questions included on a test form, the precise conversion of raw scores to scaled scores is not constant. 

However, compared to the numerical correct score – the scaled score, which is provided on a 15-point scale, frequently offers a more reliable and accurate evaluation of a student's performance. 

Even though there might be a minor variation in the number of correct answers each student received on their test form, two students who prepared equally and completed different sets of questions should receive the same scaled score.

What are the Pros of Using Scaled Scores?

MCAT scores are more accurate when scaled scores are used instead of raw or curved values. 

Two similarly prepared students can take two separate examinations and end up with two different raw scores. 

Theoretically, the student who took the easier test would correctly answer more questions and vice versa. However, both test-takers should receive the same result using the scale.

Another benefit is that you do not have to correctly answer every question to receive a scaled score of 528. 

According to some calculations, you might answer up to eight questions incorrectly and still receive a 528. This is because you do not lose points for answering incorrect or unanswered questions on the MCAT. 

For this reason, you should never leave a question on the MCAT unanswered. Knowing this can help relieve some pressure on a very challenging test.

What are the Cons of Using Scaled Scores?

Many people don't comprehend how scaled scores function. We are accustomed to both raw and curved scores in traditional education. 

A difference of one point on the MCAT scaled score has a different significance than a difference of one point on a raw score, which might not be a huge concern. 

For instance, you might need to answer five additional questions to increase your scaled score from 509 to 510.

The MCAT scaled scores also lack some transparency, which is understandable. 

To better understand how many questions they must correctly answer to receive their desired scaled score, many students wish to know the conversions between raw and scaled scores.

Additional FAQs – What are MCAT Raw Scores? 

When Will I Get to See My MCAT Result?

Each exam is scaled and equalized by AAMC following each test day. It takes between 30 - 35 days. Students may also raise any complaints they may have regarding the exam questions or the testing environment at this period. 

The AAMC then examines and looks into each issue. As a result, AAMC is unable to issue a score right away after you finish the exam due to the meticulous study and examination of feedback from each exam day.

Will the AAMC Release My MCAT Raw Score?

No, you will not be able to know your actual raw score in the MCAT. It is because the AAMC will not release them. So instead, you will be aware of your scaled scores for each section, which are pre-determined by your actual MCAT raw score. 

This is because, compared to the numerical correct score, the scaled score, which is provided on a 15-point scale, frequently offers a more reliable and accurate evaluation of a student's performance.

Do I Get Penalized for Not Answering a Question on the MCAT?

No, you are not deducted points for any incorrect answers you will have on the MCAT. That is why in case you do not know the answer to a specific question. You don’t know; you might just get the answers right. 

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