Is it hard to get a 500 on the MCAT?

Is it hard to get a 500 on the MCAT?

What is the MCAT?

The medical college admission test, also known as the MCAT, is taken by students who wish to apply to Medical schools. It is a standardized computer-based exam accepted in the majority of countries across the world. The test consists of 230 multiple choice questions that need to be answered in 6 hours 15 minutes. The test started in 1928 and recently had changes made to it. The major subjects covered in the test are Biology, Physics, Chemistry, biochemistry, psychology, social sciences, critical analysis, and reasoning. Read further to know how to get a 500 on the MCAT.

MCAT scoring system

The total score is derived from the sum of four test sections and ranges from 472 to 528 points. The highest possible score is 528 points and is considered the perfect score. Scores ranging from 524 to 528 are considered to be in the 100th percentile. Out of every 300,000 students who take the MCAT, on average, only 50 students achieve the perfect score, which is .000167% of the candidates. About 85,000 students take the test each year, and only .000047% achieve the perfect score. With that said, it is obvious that getting a perfect score on the MCAT is extremely difficult.

How much is a 500 on the MCAT?

A score of 500 means you are in the 49th percentile; you performed better than 49% of the students who took the test that same day. According to the AAMC or the Association of American Medical Colleges, a score of 500 is an average score; this means that most test-takers easily achieve this score. However, the MCAT is considered a very tough exam, with a vast syllabus and limited attempts. In addition, a candidate can only take the MCAT seven times in their life due to the changes made to the exam in 2015.

A score of 500 would mean you scored 125 points in each of the four sections or any other arrangements of points in the four sections that would total 500. Since a score of 500 means you are in the 49th percentile, it also means that 51% of the test takers did better than you, i.e., they scored more than a 500. However, the average score keeps getting higher due to the intense competition, making it difficult to be considered above average.

A score of 500 is considered slightly below average (maybe average in some cases), but due to tough competition, a score of 510 is set as a new benchmark in some colleges and universities. Most medical schools do not accept candidates who have scores below 500; the score is considered a minimum score for acceptance to most colleges and universities. People who score below 500, for example, a score of 490, would be considered under average and will have a very hard time getting into a med school.

Is it hard to score a 500?

Most test-takers claim that scoring 500 on the test is not that hard. People who are native English speakers or someone with native level fluency and a good understanding of pre-med science don’t have to work very hard to score a 500. On average, students who score a 500 on their MCAT study anywhere from 250 to 350 hours, some even more.

So if you plan to take the MCAT in 6 months, you would have to study at least 14 hours a week every day or 2 hours a day for six months straight. This much time would be enough to help you cover most of the syllabus and still have time for revisions. Most full-time students study 8 to 10 hours a day and about 50 hours a week; they can prepare for the exam in relatively less time.  

Every point in the test score matters and could be the reason for acceptance or rejection. A score of 498 would put you in the 45th percentile, so 55% of the test takers did better than you, and that does not put you in a difficult spot as most of the institutes do not accept such low scores. So to do just average, which is slightly above 500, or to score a 500, you would have to study at least 350 hours spread over several months. Your approach and attitude also play a major role in your preparation and results.

You will not see good results if you put in the time but do not have the right preparation material and effective study techniques. In addition, as the test assesses your knowledge in various subjects and aspects, it requires significant practice and revisions to understand personal weaknesses and areas that require improvement.

How to score better?

Since the MCAT has a vast syllabus, only those students who use the most effective study techniques are the ones who do well on the exam. So, let’s look at the most effective study tips to help you prepare and score well on the exam.

Active recall

Active recall is a study technique requiring you to recall all the knowledge or information you have just acquired. When retrieving, our brain gets a quick idea of where we stand, and then we can easily work on the areas that require more attention. For example, after reading a paragraph, you would actively recall or retrieve it. This technique puts the brain through 2 steps 

• Attaining the data

• Retrieving the data

It is one of the most effective study techniques used by most students who score well on their exams. You could attain the knowledge by any means and then retrieve it by different means of testing methods. 

Spaced repetition

This technique is considered the most effective study technique as it has scientific evidence to endorse it. It requires you to repeat what you have learned over a prolonged period. When repeating the information repeatedly, it makes way to the long-term memory and can easily be retrieved at any time. According to research conducted at the University of Melbourne in 2016, Spaced repetition proved the most efficient and effective study technique.

Taking Notes

This is one of the most commonly practiced study methods and requires you to highlight or make a note of something important. This helps you remember the important points.

Feynman’s Technique

The Feynman Technique introduced by Richard Feynman in 1940 is a very commonly practiced study technique. This technique requires the person to read, understand, and then explain the topic. When explaining the topic, the person must explain it in very simple terms as if they were explaining it to a little child. Because we cannot explain something well unless we fully understand it, this technique helps us reflect on our weaknesses and gaps in our knowledge.

Using multiple sources

People often find it boring studying the same book over and over again. However, most students who score well on exams claim that they use multiple sources to study and prepare for exams and other tests—using different study methods such as active recall, spaced repetition, making notes, taking mock exams, online lectures, and group studying all help in making the learning process more enjoyable and effective.   

Frequent assessments/ evaluations

One of the most crucial elements to preparing for an exam is to frequently test yourself and see where you stand. Frequent assessments help find weaknesses and gaps in knowledge which can then be filled. Most students who do well on their exams claimed they take about one exam each week and take as many as three tests a week when the exam is near. 


To sum it up, the MCAT or the Medical College Admission Test is a tough exam. A score of 500 is considered an average score in most countries. Due to the intense competition, the average score keeps getting higher; 500 used to be in the 53rd percentile; however, it now lies in the 49th percentile. This means that if you score a 500, 51% of the students who took the exam did better than you, i.e., they scored more than 500. This competition has caused most states or institutes to have a score of 510 as a benchmark for admission. Though a 500 might have helped students get into med-school in the past, this score is now considered too low. There are some study techniques such as active recall, spaced repetition, Feynman technique, group studying, and frequently taking tests to assess your knowledge used by students who do well on the test and other exams.  

Is it hard to get a 500 on the MCAT?

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