Retaking the MCAT? Here’s Everything You Need To Know

So you’ve decided to retake the MCAT…

We’re here to help you do this properly.

Perhaps you didn’t hit your target score the first time. Perhaps you’re worried your score isn’t good enough to get into your dream med school…

Regardless, you’ve made a bold decision and we’re here to support it.

We know this can be a challenging time…

But we also know there have been many top scorers who are now in the med-school of their dreams, who also had to retake the MCAT.

In this article, we’ll cover how top scorers approached retaking the MCAT, so you can do the same, and ensure your highest chances of hitting your target MCAT score this time.

How Top Scorers Get In The Right Mental State To Retake the MCAT

One of the biggest mistakes MCAT retakers make is starting to study really soon after they get their scores back. If you want to hit your target score, we don’t recommend doing this.

In fact, you should take a few weeks off to reflect on how you can improve from the first time you prepared for the MCAT. Reflecting while waiting to get your score back doesn’t count.

It’s your thought process AFTER you got your score back that matters.

When you get your score back, and it’s not a score you’re happy to see, it probably hits you like a ton of bricks. Especially if you were expecting a better result, you’ll be feeling shocked.

This is why you don’t want to start studying again right away. You won’t be in the right mental state to do so. You won’t be completely focused.

If you have strong negative emotions while you prep, overcoming difficult MCAT problems and passages will become even harder. You’ll likely not be able to study and will be prone to procrastinating. Even if you somehow push through, your progress will be mediocre compared to if you were to study with a clear mind.

The key is to first deal with the emotions, give yourself time to heal naturally, and restart studying when you’re feeling fresh, genuinely motivated, and clear-headed.

To deal with the negative emotions, besides just giving it time, you can do several things like practice meditation, exercise, eat healthy, go for walks. Give yourself permission to do your favorite activities for a full day or two.

You can also talk to someone about it. Someone who can appreciate your situation. Someone in med-school who rewrote the MCAT would be perfect to talk to. It’ll make you realize the FACT that retaking the MCAT is completely normal.

It’s nothing to be embarrassed about. The MCAT is a brutal exam and med-schools realize that. They know it can take a little longer for even the best med-school candidates to adapt to the style of the MCAT. So it’s okay to feel bad and feel disappointed. Just give yourself time and space to get through it otherwise it’ll show itself when you’re studying and diminish your performance and score.

Lastly, never self criticize. Catch yourself when you’re self-criticizing. Talk to yourself as your best friend, as your own mentor, or loving mother/father. You’re the only one who can be responsible for your emotions. Your goal is to feel confident.

One of the best ways to feel truly confident is preparing in the correct way specifically when it comes to retaking the MCAT, which we’ll cover now…

2 Important Rules Top Scorers Follow Before Retaking the MCAT

There are two important rules you must follow if you’re going to dominate the MCAT this time around.

First, make sure you have a date in mind for what you want to be your MCAT retake day. Being completely ready by this date should be your goal.

A lot of students just start studying for the MCAT again on a daily basis, not knowing when they’re going to stop because they don’t have a date set. You don’t want MCAT studying to be part of your life’s daily routine. It needs to come to an end. Never forget your aim – to get a competitive MCAT score so you can make progress into a med-school you’re ecstatic about!

Secondly, don’t make the test re-take date too soon! You need time. Not giving themselves time and rushing is a big mistake a lot of students make. Top scorers know that rushing is a bad idea because it takes time to get better at your weakest areas.

A month or two generally isn’t enough time for most people to significantly improve. It’s too soon. You’ll likely end up with a similar score.

Perhaps you feel like you have no choice but to rush because you want to get in within this application cycle…

Use your own judgement but generally, it’s not worth it to rush.

Top scorers are smart enough to know that it’s better getting in the following year than not getting in at all. The last thing you want is to have 2 or more low scores on your record.

If you’re extremely confident that you’ll be able to pull it off – maybe you just had a bad day on test day – then perhaps you can go for it. But you need to be honest with yourself.

The way to know if you’re ready to retake the MCAT is if you’ve taken a lot of practice exams and are consistently scoring near your target score on the AAMC exams…

The way to get to that level of scoring over 510+ consistently on your practice exams is to prepare in the right way this time…

How Top Scorers Prepare (Correctly This Time) To Retake the MCAT

Sooner or later, every MCAT writer realizes that the MCAT is NOT like any other test they’ve ever written. It covers a huge range of topics that you have to know extremely well, PLUS it tests you on skills like reading comprehension, your test-taking stamina, your ability to perform under pressure, and so much more.

Yet, most MCAT writers who struggle on the MCAT don’t realize that they need to adapt a different approach to taking on the MCAT.

Albert Einstein said that the definition of ‘insanity’ is “doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.”

Truth is you don’t have the luxury of gambling with this next MCAT you’re going to write…

You can’t hope for a competitive score this time… You have to KNOW you’re going to get it before walking into the exam

When you prepare for the MCAT this time, you’re going to have to change your approach and do something differently.

Now you could do some research on the best approach to studying for the MCAT, especially when you’re retaking it, but honestly you don’t have time to figure out the best approach on your own.

You don’t have the time to use trial and error to figure it out for yourself. If you look online, you’ll find hundreds of different approaches that different prep companies and forums will tell you. It’s going to get overwhelming really fast.

We believe the best approach is also the most credible approach. How do you know if it’s credible? If a lot of MCAT writers before you have used it, and it has gotten them all high MCAT scores (510+), we believe it doesn’t get any more credible than that. It’s been proven to work many times over…

And you can safely bet that if it’s worked for so many top scorers, it will work for you too. Using proven top scorer strategies will enable you to be confident that this time, you’re preparing for the MCAT in the RIGHT way. You’ll never doubt your MCAT studying approach again.

Key Insight: When you retake the MCAT this time, you MUST change your approach to preparing for the MCAT. The best and most credible approach is to do what other top scorers did to get their high MCAT scores, so you can get the same results.

So how do top scorers approach MCAT prep? With strategy.

Almost a third of the students in the MCAT Mastery Community are those who are retaking the MCAT. The problem most re-writers have is that they didn’t study strategically enough the first time.

Every top MCAT scorer knows that you don’t have to be the smartest person in the room to get a high MCAT score, you just need to be the most strategic.

Getting a high MCAT score means you have to get as many questions right as you possibly can… And all questions are made up of passages.

Strategy allows you to analyze MCAT passages in the correct way that shows you how to find the correct answer. You need to know how to read the passages and answer the questions in a way that the AAMC wants you to. This requires strategy and techniques that only someone experienced can show you.

When you’re not approaching the MCAT with strategy, you easily lose focus. When you lose focus, you become anxious and your confidence falls, which destroys your scoring potential.

Strategy also allows you to understand why certain answers are wrong and why other are correct. Plus, applying the right strategies is the only way you’ll finish the exam on time without guessing on questions.

We can go on and on about the benefits of using MCAT strategy, but the real benefit is that over time, applying the correct strategies allows you to start naturally thinking like a top-scorer.

The long term benefit is that this skill stays with you when you get to med-school, so you can dominate there as well. The funny thing is, that’s the point of the MCAT – to identify the top scoring students who will be able to handle med-school.

If you want a highly recommended, complete PDF guide to all the top scorer MCAT strategies that you’ll need as you prep to retake this exam, you can find it by clicking on the link at the end of this post. Using these top scorer strategies will guarantee that this is the last time you ever write the MCAT.

Also when it comes to retaking the MCAT, all top scorers know that reflection is key. Make sure to spend some timer reflecting correctly. Kind of like doing an autopsy.

It’s the review that you do after that allows you to improve and learn. Top scorers will advise you that doing more passages isn’t going to help if you haven’t pinpointed the lessons you’ve learned and your areas for improvement.

During your reflection phase, ask yourself what went wrong. What were your study methods like? Did you follow a strategic roadmap or just study in the same way you normally study for any other exam? Maybe your practice scores were turning out good, but did you practice under test-day conditions?

Even though you might feel like you already reflected when you were waiting for your score, that doesn’t count. It’s the reflection that you do after you get your score back that really matters.

Lastly, please remember to not be too hard on yourself. We know it can be shocking when you get back your MCAT score that shows average or below average, when you’ve been getting A’s your entire life…

As long as you learn from this experience, you’ve succeeded. Two years from now you’re going to look back at this time in your life and you won’t want to change anything because you’ll realize that these experiences have shaped who you are – it has strengthened you mentally, emotionally, and has made you a smarter and more strategic soon-to-be doctor.

You got this,

The MCAT Mastery TeamYour MCAT Success Mentors

P.S. Here is the link to download the top scorer strategy guide PDF mentioned earlier. Research shows that only 20% of students who retake the MCAT get a 4 or more-point increase. When you use what’s in this guide, you can be sure you’ll be in that 20%. Download here.

The MCAT Mastery Team

About the Author

We're a team of future doctors passionate about giving back and mentoring other future doctors! All mentors on the team are top MCAT scorers and we all are committed to seeing you succeed in achieving your physician dreams ????To help you increase your MCAT score to the competitive mark quickly, we have collaboratively created these self-paced MCAT strategy courses and are also available for one-on-one tutoring!

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