Average SAT Score for Medical Students
A lot goes into preparing for medical school. From earning a Bachelor’s degree to passing the MCAT, prospective medical students have many factors to consider as they embark on their educational expeditions. But how do SAT scores play a role in that education? How important is a good SAT score to a successful education in medicine?
Read on to learn about the average SAT scores for medical students, when to worry about SAT scores, and how you can improve your score before sending in your applications.
SAT Scores for Medical Students Throughout Education
A medical student’s SAT scores matter more or less at various points in their academic career. Let’s examine the potential impact of an SAT score at each stage.
Undergraduate and Pre-Med Programs
Your SAT score will most likely be a contributing factor when you apply for pre-med programs or undergraduate education in general. Some schools are test-optional, meaning they do not require the submission of standardized test scores like the SAT and ACT. However, submitting a high SAT score will almost certainly increase a student’s chances of admission at a given school.
The average SAT score for students entering pre-med programs in the United States is around 1200, but students should aim to score as high as they possibly can, up to or exceeding 1400.
Keep in mind that you do not necessarily have to enter a pre-med program or major in a science-related subject during undergraduate if you plan to attend medical school. Pre-med programs may help you prepare for medical school and the MCAT, but plenty of students who earn their Bachelor’s degrees in humanities or social sciences go on to be equally as successful in their medical education as those who majored in biology.
BS/MD programs, or direct medical programs, eliminate the second round of applications that prospective medical students have to complete after their undergraduate educations. You can apply to a BS/MD program in high school to earn acceptance to a pre-med program and a medical school at the same time. Upon earning your Bachelor’s degree, you will immediately move on to medical school (though most schools may require you to take the MCAT first).
As you can imagine, BS/MD programs are extremely competitive. You will need a much higher SAT score to earn a spot in one of these programs compared to a normal pre-med program. Though the average SAT score for BS/MD applicants is around 1420, some programs expect at least a 1500 accompanied by a 3.5 to 4.0 GPA.
Once you move onto medical school, your SAT score is no longer as important as it was during your undergraduate career. Rather than factoring in your SAT score, medical schools will look at another standardized test score instead: the MCAT.
The MCAT, or Medical College Admission Test, assesses a prospective medical student’s understanding of the concepts that will be explored in medical school as well as the skills necessary for a successful medical education. Medical school is far from easy, so you can expect the MCAT to be an equally challenging exam.
The subject matter of the exam draws from knowledge students should have acquired in their pre-med curriculum. The MCAT’s 4 sections include:
- Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems.
- Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems.
- Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills.
- Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior.
Scores for the MCAT range from 472 to 528. The average total MCAT score for students who enrolled in medical schools in the United States in the 2022-2023 school year was 511.9. Compare that to the overall average total score for that year of 501.6. Clearly, prospective students should aim to score above the national average on the exam to successfully apply at most medical schools.
Is a Good SAT Score Necessary to Become a Medical Student?
An extremely high SAT score is not necessarily essential for prospective medical students, but it certainly boosts a student’s chances of academic success. With a high SAT score, you can apply to a wider array of competitive programs for your undergraduate education, or you may even be able to earn a spot in a BS/MD program. These programs will prepare you for a successful experience in medical school and hopefully on the MCAT as well.
It is important to remember, though, that your SAT score no longer matters when you are actually applying to medical school. At that point, MCAT scores will take over.
How to Raise Your SAT Score
Let’s explore a few simple strategies you can use to improve your SAT score before you begin applying to undergraduate, pre-med, or BS/MD programs.
Determine Your Goal Score
Before you can start making improvements to your score, you first need to set a target score. If you hope to apply to certain schools, BS/MD programs, or pre-med programs, you can research their required scores for admission. Not all schools and programs will list a required score, so feel free to research average SAT scores of accepted students instead. Compile a list of required or accepted scores for every program you have interest in.
In order to be competitive at every school on your list, you should aim to score a bit higher than the highest SAT score that appears. Use this as your target score.
Create a Study Plan
If you have already taken the SAT once, then you should have an idea of how many points you want to add to your current score to reach the target score you have in mind. Studying for a certain number of hours can help you improve your score by a corresponding number of points.
Here’s a breakdown of hours spent studying in relation to score improvement:
- 0 to 10 points: 10+ hours.
- 10 to 100 points: 20+ hours.
- 100 to 150 points: 40+ hours.
- 150 to 200 points: 80+ hours.
- 200+ points: 150+ hours.
Once you know how many hours you need to study to improve your score, use that estimate to construct a study plan. Your plan should be realistic and achievable while still challenging you to push yourself. We recommend starting your study plan as soon as possible to ensure you have enough time to spread out your hours without excess stress or cramming.
Take Practice Tests
Practice tests are your best friend before any standardized test, especially for those who experience test anxiety. When taking practice tests, do your best to simulate a real testing environment by finding a quiet area and timing yourself.
Use your results from practice tests to adjust your study plan as necessary and gauge your progress. For example, if you find yourself doing well in one section and poorly in another, you may want to spend some extra time on your lower-scoring subjects. Remember to allow yourself ample time to rest as well by avoiding taking practice tests too close to your actual testing date.
How PrepExpert Can Help You
PrepExpert offers both self-paced and weekend review courses for SAT prep. Designed by founder Shaan Patel and taught by an array of expert instructors, our courses are created to help students review and master subject matter while also teaching valuable test-taking strategies that can carry forward throughout their entire educational careers.