How Many Times Can You Take the MCAT? A Comprehensive Guide


The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a crucial step for anyone dreaming of becoming a doctor. It’s a comprehensive exam that tests knowledge in science, reasoning, and critical thinking, all vital skills for medical school. The MCAT score is a key part of medical school applications, showcasing applicants’ readiness for the challenges of medical education.

In this blog post, we’ll dive into an essential aspect of the MCAT journey: the number of times you can take the test. Understanding the limits on MCAT attempts is critical for planning your path to medical school. We’ll also explore considerations to keep in mind if you’re thinking of retaking the MCAT, such as the impact on your application and strategies for improvement.

Whether you’re taking the MCAT for the first time or considering a retake, knowing these guidelines can help you plan effectively and prepare for your medical career.

Testing Limits and Eligibility

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has specific requirements and regulations in place for individuals interested in taking the MCAT. These should be considered carefully to make informed decisions when planning your attempts.

There are restrictions on the number of times you can take the MCAT. You may enter this test up to three times a year, four times over two years, and up to 7 times in total during your lifetime. Failing the test is normal, which is why the AAMC ensures enough opportunities are given to enable aspiring individuals to succeed.

As for who can take the MCAT, it’s mainly for those looking to get into medical school or other health-related fields. While there’s no strict minimum age to take the test, you usually need to be at least 18 or at an age where you’re ready to apply to college or university programs.

If you’ve taken the MCAT before and want to retake it, there are waiting periods between attempts to ensure fairness and to give you time to prepare properly. This rule ensures the test justly proves who’s ready for medical school.

Factors to Consider When Planning MCAT Attempts

In medical education, the importance of scoring high on your MCAT cannot be overstated. It is a step that can make or break your career. But don’t stress it, though. If you don’t succeed on the first try, there will be a next time. However, before you decide to retake the MCAT, we recommend you think about a few important things:

  • Impact on Application Deadlines: Retaking the MCAT can postpone your application to medical school. Make sure you plan to retake the test according to your application timeline.
  • Need for Big Improvements: If you’re retaking the MCAT, aim for a big score jump. Small improvements might not be worth the extra time and stress.
  • Review Your Previous Score: Take a look, or even two, at your old test results carefully. Understand where you did well and where you need to improve. This is important for alleviating the chances of making the same errors again.
  • Identify Crucial Areas: Focus on the parts of the test where you can earn the most points. Spend more time studying these areas before you retake the MCAT. This trick will get you far.
  • Preparation Time: Before retaking the test, make sure you have enough time to study. If you can’t commit to more preparation, retaking might not help your score.
  • Consider Stress and Cost: Remember, retaking the test can also be stressful and expensive. Think about whether it’s worth it for you and how it will pan out in the future. 

International Students and Special Permission


International students wanting to take the MCAT need to follow a few extra steps compared to U.S. students. These include permission to take the test and visa-related issues. It’s important to be aware of these requirements to navigate your journey seamlessly and avoid the unexpected.

  • Special Permission: Signing up for your MCAT can be a struggle if you’re not a U.S. or Canadian citizen or don’t have a permanent residence visa. But don’t worry too much—you can still take the test with special permission. This means contacting the AAMC to see what extra steps you need to take. It’s an additional step, but it’s all about ensuring everyone who wants to pursue a career in medicine has the chance, regardless of where they’re from.
  • Identification Requirements: When it comes to taking the MCAT, your identity is as important as your knowledge. You must have a valid passport to register and take the test. It’s the only accepted form of ID for international test-takers. So, before you dive into your study books, make sure your passport is up to date and ready for your test day.
  • Additional Requirements: Some countries have specific requirements or restrictions for taking the MCAT. Make sure to check if there are any for your country. It’s crucial to check the AAMC website or get in touch with them to find out if there are any special instructions you need to follow. This way, you can avoid any last-minute surprises and focus on your exam preparation.

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) website is your go-to for information on these and other conditions. It has details on eligibility, test preparation, and registration procedures for international students. In addition, offers resources tailored for international test-takers.

Planning and preparation are key. Make sure to start early to work your way through these additional steps smoothly.

Tips for Successful MCAT Preparation

Starting your MCAT preparation journey can feel overwhelming, but with the right strategies, you can successfully overcome this challenge. One of the first steps is to create a solid study schedule. This means setting clear goals, dividing your study material into manageable sections, and dedicating specific time to each area. Consistency and discipline are important for making steady progress.

Understanding the format and content of the MCAT is crucial. Familiarize yourself with the types of questions you’ll encounter and the subjects covered. This knowledge will help you focus your study efforts more effectively and reduce surprises on test day.

Utilizing practice tests is another important strategy. These tests offer a realistic perception of the exam experience and help improve your time management skills. They also identify your strengths and weaknesses, allowing you to tailor your study plan to areas that need the most attention.

Seeking support from peers or mentors can greatly enhance your preparation. Joining a study group or finding someone who has already taken the MCAT can provide valuable insights, encouragement, and motivation. Sharing tips, resources, and experiences can make your study sessions more productive and less stressful.

Finally, developing good time management skills is essential. Learn to allocate your time wisely during the exam to ensure you can answer all questions. Practice pacing yourself with timed sections during your study sessions to build this skill.

By combining these strategies, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your best possible MCAT score.


The MCAT has rules on how many times you can take it: three times a year and seven times in your life. Planning your study and knowing the MCAT’s style are key. Use practice tests to get better at managing your time and understand where to focus your study. It’s also smart to join study groups or find a mentor for extra support. Remember, doing well on the MCAT requires strategy and good preparation. Think carefully about when to take the exam to make sure you’re ready and can get the best score possible.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

How long do you have to wait before retaking the MCAT?

You must wait at least 48 hours after your previous MCAT attempt to register for another test date, and typically, there’s a 30-day waiting period between test dates.

Does multiple MCAT attempts affect my medical school application?

Multiple MCAT attempts can affect your medical school application, as schools will see all your scores. However, consistent improvement across attempts can demonstrate determination and resilience.

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