If you didn’t hit your target score on the MCAT  or fear it’s not high enough to get you into your dream med school program, you might be considering registering for another MCAT. Here’s everything you need to know about retaking the MCAT and some tips for how to decide if you really need to take the test again.

Should you retake the MCAT?

What You Need to Know

How many times can you retake the MCAT?

You can take the MCAT:

  • up to three times in one year
  • up to four times over a two-year period
  • up to seven times in a lifetime

How long should you wait to retake the MCAT?

It depends when you are applying to medical school. You’ll want to pick a test date that will ensure schools receive your scores by the deadline and allow you to put in the prep you need to retake the test.

How are multiple MCAT scores viewed by admissions?

Keep in mind that all your scores will be be seen by medical schools, though admissions committees will use MCAT scores in different ways. Depending on the program, schools may:

  • Consider your highest score
  • Take the average of all your scores
  • Give greater weight to your most recent score
  • Consider your highest section score from each test

Check the score policy for every medical school on your list.

How to Decide if You Should Retake the MCAT

To decide if you should take the retake the test, consider the score you need, how your prepped the first time, and how you would prep differently for the next test.

1. How does your first score measure up?

A “good” score for you depends on schools you are applying to and the strength of your overall medical school application. Use resources like the MSAR database of med school admissions requirements to help you compare your GPA and MCAT scores to the averages for the programs on your list. Are you competitive for most of the schools you are applying to? If not, then retaking the test will probably be in your best interest.  Learn more about good MCAT scores.

2. How prepared were you for the MCAT the first time around?

If you prepared thoroughly and did the best you could, you may not see a big increase in your MCAT score. If you couldn’t put in the time to study, or were surprised or overwhelmed on the day of the test despite your preparation, you could improve your score by putting in additional MCAT test prep, especially in key areas like pacing or content review.

3. How you plan to prep for the next test?

If you do decide to retest, you’ll need to seriously reassess your MCAT study routine. Did you get in enough practice tests and drills? Did you simulate real MCAT conditions when practicing? If you studied on your own the first time, consider signing up for a prep course or working with a private tutor to identify your personal weak spots.

Planning to take the  MCAT in summer 2017?

Take our free MCAT practice test  and get a personalized score report that helps you understand your strengths and weaknesses. Ready to hit the books? Check out our  MCAT prep options.