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How Many Times Can You Take the MCAT?

October 7, 2022
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How Often You Can Take the MCATHow Many Times You Should Take the MCATFAQs: Retaking the MCAT

”Rohan

Reviewed by:

Rohan Jotwani

Former Chief Resident in Anesthesiology, Weill Cornell Medicine, & Admissions Officer, Columbia University

Reviewed: 6/2/22

Students often want to retake the MCAT to improve their scores before applying to medical school. Here we’ll talk about how many times you can retake the MCAT and how it may affect your application.

Wondering if you can take the MCAT several times? You’ve come to the right place! The MCAT is a standardized test administered by the AAMC multiple times a year. The test is known to be challenging, taking over seven hours to complete.

Due to the MCAT’s complexity and the weight it carries in medical school applications, students often schedule their first date with enough time to retake the test. But how many times can you retake the MCAT? And how does that look on medical school applications? Read on for the answers. 

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How Often You Can Take the MCAT

There are three timeline limits to how many times you can retake the MCAT. Here we’ll go over each MCAT test-taking limit.

Single-Year Limit

In a single testing year, you can take the MCAT three times. Each exam date can be scheduled as far apart or close together as you’d like, although you need time to review your score and study again before retaking the test.

Two-Year Limit

In a consecutive two-year period, the MCAT can be taken four times. That means if you’ve already taken the MCAT three times in your first year of taking the test, you have one more try before you have to wait another year. 

This limit only applies to two consecutive years. The single-year limit remains the same if you’ve waited a year between the first three tests.

Lifetime Limit

So, how many times can you take the MCAT over a lifetime? You can take the MCAT up to seven times. After your seventh attempt, you’ll no longer be able to register or take the test, regardless of how long it’s been since your last attempt. 

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How Many Times You Should Take the MCAT

Although you can take the MCAT up to seven times in your lifetime, that number certainly doesn’t reflect how many times you should be taking the MCAT. Taking the MCAT twice is fine; even three times shouldn’t impact your admissions too much. However, any more tries can begin to damage your application. 

Aim to avoid taking the MCAT multiple times while planning to retake it once if necessary. You should give yourself at least three months to study for the MCAT and ensure you take full-length practice tests. 

Keeping your ideal score in mind can also help you study for the exam and decide if you should retake the MCAT. Consider the admissions requirements of your target schools. Perhaps you don’t have a perfect score, but would it be admissible for your target schools? Can you make up for it in other areas of your application?

If you’ve retaken the MCAT multiple times with no success, you can also consider applying to medical schools that don’t require the MCAT or consider other careers in the health field. 

FAQs: Retaking the MCAT 

Here are some frequently asked questions about retaking the MCAT. 

1. Will It Look Bad On My Application If I Retake the MCAT?

If you retake the MCAT only once, even twice, and improve your score each time, it won’t impact your chances of admission. However, retaking the MCAT excessively or scoring lower each time you take it may negatively impact your application. 

2. How Many Times Do People Retake the MCAT On Average? 

It’s normal to retake the MCAT once. After all, the test is challenging, and we all have bad days. Just ensure your score improves when you retake the test. 

3. Should I Retake the MCAT?

If you already have a good score on the MCAT (for example, a 514 or above), retaking the MCAT may not be best. While you can take the MCAT again, you risk getting a lower score than your first attempt. Evaluate the stats of your target schools to see if retaking the MCAT is worth the risk. 

4. Is It Bad To Retake the MCAT More Than Once?

Retaking the MCAT multiple times isn’t necessarily bad as long as your score improves each time. If your score worsens with each attempt or stays the same, it won’t strengthen your med school application. 

5. How Many Times Can I Retake the MCAT Per Year?

In one year, you can take the MCAT up to three times. The test dates can be scheduled as far apart as you wish, although you should give yourself time to review your score and study before retaking the exam. 

6. How Many Times Can You Take the MCAT?

In a lifetime, you can take the MCAT up to seven times. Although you can take the MCAT many times, you should aim for a stellar score on your first attempt. 

7. How Many MCAT Attempts Is Too Many? 

Retaking the MCAT isn’t a red flag, and even three attempts may not impact your admissions decision, although we recommend performing your best on the first two tests.

However, taking the MCAT multiple times (more than two or three times) can signal that you haven’t grasped the material and may struggle with medical school’s rigorous instruction.

8. Do Medical Schools Care If You Take the MCAT Twice? 

While many students worry that taking the MCAT twice is bad, medical schools won’t care if you take the MCAT twice, especially if you improve your score! 

Final Thoughts

Retaking the MCAT is a big decision. Between each attempt, it’s vital to give yourself time to study. You should take full-length practice tests to simulate the actual testing environment. Avoid retaking the test hastily without giving yourself proper time to study, as you risk receiving a lower score than the first time. 

Retaking the test more than twice may reflect negatively on your application, so consider all factors before moving forward. If you’re unsure how to improve your initial score, consider hiring an experienced MCAT tutor to boost your results.

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