How Many Times Can You Take The MCAT?

How many times can you take the MCAT is a common question among pre-med students. This is no surprise to me. The MCAT is probably one of the most difficult hurdles (If not the MOST DIFFICULT) to overcome during your pre-med journey. It is common among students to miscalculate how much study time they needed, resulting in a low score.

A lot of pre-med students have to make the decision about whether or not they need to retake the MCAT. It is good to educate yourself on the matter first.

How many times does the AAMC allow you to take the MCAT?

Here are the official AAMC guidelines to how many times someone can retake the MCAT:

  1. In a single testing year (meaning from January till the end of Summer) you can take the exam 3 times
  2. During 2 consecutive years, you can take the exam up to 4 times
  3. During your lifetime you can take the MCAT 7 times

With this in mind, take each MCAT exam seriously. There is a limit!

Should you retake the MCAT?

What if you get a score you are unhappy with or is not competitive for the medical schools you want to apply to? This question is very common and very stressful for lots of pre-med students.

I’ve been there and have done a lot of research on this topic. In fact, I wrote a detailed article about this question in particular. Should you retake the MCAT? And how does retaking the MCAT look towards medical schools?

In general, like most things in your medical school application, the answer is not simple. There is not a clear-cut metric for MCAT retakes, but rather it is weighed with your overall application and the circumstances leading to your retake. Showing an improvement and overcoming an obstacle is always looked positively among medical schools. This is no different for the MCAT.

How do medical schools view multiple MCAT scores?

The simple answer is that medical schools can do whatever they want when viewing multiple MCAT scores. There are no rules.

Here are 4 possible ways med schools can view multiple MCAT scores:

  • Evaluate the most recent score
  • Evaluate only the highest individual and/or set of scores
  • Evaluate an average of the sets of scores
  • Consider all scores equally and note the improvements.

Generally speaking, different medical schools lean different ways. Most schools will place most emphasis on your most recent score or your highest score, but will not disregard the other scores. As mentioned in my article on retaking the MCAT, they will look for patterns and improvement.

Alternatively, other medical schools might evaluate your MCAT scores as a “super score” (this means they take the highest scores from each section across all your test dates). Some schools might average all your scores. Others will simply consider all scores equally.

Once again, medical schools do whatever they want when it comes to evaluating your MCAT scores. You can’t assume a particular school will evaluate your score one way or another.

Also, med schools will evaluate your MCAT scores in conjunction with the rest of your application. If the particular school is looking for an excuse to rule you out, they may use an old MCAT score as that excuse.

On the other hand, if the rest of your application is great, they may see your improving MCAT scores as a positive.

Med schools don’t follow rules… when it comes to your application.

Don’t overthink it. The best you can do is study diligently and improve your score. If you are actively showing a determination to get into medical school, then you will.

How much study time do you need?

You want to avoid multiple MCAT retakes as much as possible. Not only because you have a limited amount of attempts, but also because you are wasting your time retaking the MCAT when you could be doing extracurriculars.

That’s why it is important to evaluate how much time you need to study. Don’t worry so much about the number of times you can take the MCAT, but rather how much study time is required to do well.

Are you close to your goal? Did you figure out what you have been doing wrong and you only need another month to prepare?

How to better prepare yourself for retaking the MCAT

To avoid retaking the MCAT more than once, make sure you are prepared.

If you did poorly on the MCAT, chances are it wasn’t a freak accident but incorrect preparation. Countless premeds study for the MCAT the wrong way. The focus is placed on reviewing content when it should be on practice tests and practice problems.

Doing practice problem after practice problem will put you in the MCAT mindset. In a nutshell, this means eating, sleeping, breathing the verbiage of the MCAT.

Reviewing content will help you brush up on material that you don’t remember from your premed prerequisites but it will not help you really understand how the AAMC likes to word things.

The AAMC likes to blend confusing, scientific articles with relatively simple and straight forward science concepts. This can be very overwhelming at first. When you first read an MCAT passage your immediate thought is that you don’t know what the heck they are saying.

However, if you know what you are looking for, you can find the premed concepts they are trying to hide.

The key is learning how to read MCAT passages so that you can filter the scientific fluff for the gems. There is no easy way to do this. It takes practice and lots of it.  

I wrote a post on where you can find loads of quality MCAT practice passages and problems. Also, if you are looking to retake the MCAT in a shorter amount of time, I recommend checking out my 1-month MCAT schedule. This MCAT study plan is designed specifically for doing an incredible amount of MCAT practice problems in a short amount of time. This study guide will make you fluent in MCAT.

Also, don’t forget to have the right resources to refer to when you are reviewing practice problems. Make sure it is MCAT focused. Here is an article on the best MCAT prep books.


There is a limit to how many times you can take the MCAT. 3 times in a 1-year period, 4 times in a 2-year period, and 7 times in a lifetime.

If you are approaching these numbers, I recommend being very careful about how you approach your next MCAT retake. Use Med School Pursuits as a resource. Our approach focuses completely on practice problems and really learning how to properly read passages and approach questions.

Thinking about retaking the MCAT? Post a comment here on your status!

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