Studying for the scary Medical College Admission Test can distract busy pre-med students from their rigorous undergraduate studies and research projects. Some medical schools understand that double bind and waive the MCAT requirement in certain situations. That is good news if you have an aversion to standardized tests. On the flip side, your choice of schools will be limited if you don’t take the MCAT and do well on it.
Med schools that don’t require MCAT scores base admission on overall GPA, college science and math grades, prior health care experience and a sincere desire to help others.
Early Assurance Programs and combined B.S./MD programs allow undergraduates to bypass the MCAT.
How Hard Is the MCAT?
The MCAT is intended to be challenging. The MCAT measures knowledge and application of biology, biochemistry, chemistry, physics, psychology and social behavior. Success in medical school requires a solid foundation in math and science, problem-solving skills and an ability to relate and communicate.
Most students study for countless hours when prepping for the MCAT. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, test takers’ total scores range from 472 to 528, and 76 percent score 508 or higher.
Early Assurance Programs
MD programs without MCAT requirements admit students through Early Assurance Programs. Students with a passion for medicine can apply as early as their sophomore year and be assured of a seat in medical school after finishing college. Admission standards vary by program, and the MCAT is often waived.
For example, Tufts University in Boston offers an Early Assurance Program that doesn’t require MCAT scores. However, students must have a 3.5 overall GPA, including a 3.5 in required science classes along with a combined score above 1300 on the SAT reading and math sections or an ACT composite score higher than 30.
Tufts University also offers an Early Assurance Program without MCAT requirements for undergraduates interested in the Maine Track for MDs. Students study in Maine and earn a combined diploma from Tufts and the Maine Medical Center. College students may apply to Tuft’s Early Assurance Program during their sophomore year. Graduates are encouraged to practice primary care in less-affluent parts of the state.
Medical Honors Programs
The University of Florida at Gainesville offers an accelerated B.S./MD program through their Medical Honors Program. Admission to the Medical Honors Program is open to all U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Sophomores with superior academic ability can apply to the honors program and enroll in medical school at UF without taking the MCAT.
Factors taken into consideration include a 3.7 GPA in college-level math and science prerequisite courses, volunteer work in a medical setting and research experience. Selected participants complete an accelerated B.S./MD degree in seven years.
Flexible Admissions Programs
The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City offers a unique FlexMed program named after Donald and Vera Blinken. The program attracts students from diverse academic majors. Admission decisions are made holistically, taking into consideration standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, work history and scholarly accomplishments. The MCAT is not required. Students apply and receive a decision letter the last semester of their sophomore year.
Consider Retaking the MCAT
There is no easy way of getting into an accredited medical school in the U.S. MD programs without MCAT requirements set very high admission standards. The main advantage of enrolling in a program without MCAT requirements is that you may have more time to study in school, explore a wider range of courses and work or volunteer in health care facilities.
Many students retake the MCAT to nudge up their scores. The average MCAT score in 2018-2019 was 500, as reported by the Association of American Medical Colleges. The highest percentage of repeat examiners initially scored between 494 and 501. Retaking the test can result in higher scores when students study and take additional courses in areas like physics where they feel less confident. Moreover, reviewing for the MCAT can be helpful preparation for the courses you will take in medical school.
- Association of American Medical Colleges: Summary of MCAT Total and Section Scores
- Association of American Medical Colleges: General MCAT FAQs
- Forbes: Early Assurance Programs Future Physicians Should Consider
- Tufts University School of Medicine: Early Assurance Program
- Tufts University School of Medicine: Maine Track MD
- University of Florida College of Medicine: Medical Honors Program
Dr. Mary Dowd is a dean of students whose job includes student conduct, leading the behavioral consultation team, crisis response, retention and the working with the veterans resource center. She enjoys helping parents and students solve problems through advising, teaching and writing online articles that appear on many sites. Dr. Dowd also contributes to scholarly books and journal articles.