How do MCAT scores correlate with USMLE Step?

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    Can anyone comment on how MCAT scores correlate with USMLE Step (1 + 2) Scores?


    Personally I don’t think they do. A pathologist I know scored a 20 on the MCAT and in the 90% range on all three of her steps. She is also a DO.


    I don’t have the source but I actually disagree with Path – I have heard multiple times from the medical education department as well as others that MCAT scores DO correlate with step scores. Which doesn’t mean if you do well on the MCAT you are guaranteed a great step score, or vice versa, just that people who tend to test well (or poorly) on the MCAT do similarly on average on the steps. Would have to do some searching to find a source…


    nbp, I’ve heard med school adcoms say they do since 1984, I simply know too many “outliers” to believe it anymore, and that includes enrollment in courses WITH medical students.


    I always heard the MCAT score is the single best predictor of USMLE step 1 score.


    I had a pretty average MCAT (29), but I did above average on Step 1. Maybe I just learned that material better. I do feel I was a bit scattered with MCAT material. Here’s hoping the trend continues.

    SW to MDSW to MD

    I would guess not, but that is based on the scatter plot they showed us of c/o 2013’s Step 1 scores. GPA vs. Step 1 had a somewhat positive correlation, but there were those with a 4.0 who failed the exam (!) and some 2.8s who were in the 250s.

    My MCAT was average. We shall see what that translates into.

    I also have to wonder if the SES playing field is somewhat leveled with Step 1 versus MCAT? I know someone teaching for MCAT test prep. If I had had that opportunity, I’m sure I would have done *much* better. Second year med school I know there are still the ultra-privileged who are paying for course work to supplement the support we already get in preparation for the exam. But most are just utilizing the same resources, individualized based on subject strength.


    SW, SES is an EXCELLENT point!


    The dean of my medical school told my class as we began studying for Step 1 (I am now a 4th year) that performance during the first 2 years of medical school is most closely correlated with Step 1 performance compared with other measures like MCAT score and college GPA. I am not sure which source she obtained this information from, but it logically does make sense. Graphics were shown to us on students from previous years at my school whom were borderline passing or failed Step 1. Most of the students who fell into these categories had failed or been close to failing 1+ modules during the first two years medical school. I go to an MD school


    MCAT and Step I are really different tests. MCAT you can get away with a minimum of brute-force knowledge as long as you read and think quickly. Most of what you need to know is contained in the passage.

    Step I is no-way-around-it rote memorization of thousands of factoids. Test-taking skills may be helpful but I agree with pp that studying lots in your preclinical years is a better predictor of Step I score than MCAT would be.


    Well, here we go… “meh” correlation at best, according to one study. (If r=.38-.6 across all the Step exams, with Step 1 having the strongest correlation, I guess we can go with an r value of ~.6 correlation between MCAT and Step 1…)

    This is an excerpt from

    “Are my MCAT scores predictive of my USMLE and medical school performance?”
    Much as the USMLE Step 1 score is an important variable in the residency application process, the MCAT score is given important weight in the medical school application process. Medical school admissions officers are faced with the daunting task of determining which students are the most qualified, comparing applicants from different institutions of different quality and grading schemes. The MCAT is meant as an objective and consistent means of comparison, though other factors are certainly considered in the medical school application process.

    A 2007 meta-analysis evaluated the relationship between the MCAT and medical school performance. There was a small to moderate correlation of MCAT performance with performance during the preclinical years, with the r value equal to roughly 0.39. There was also a correlation of certain subtests with preclinical performance, particularly the biological sciences subtest. The correlation was less strong between MCAT performance and performance during the clinical years. The writing subtest of the MCAT was shown to have no correlation with either performance during the preclinical years or the clinical clerkships.

    [color:#CC0000]A small to moderate correlation was also found between MCAT and USMLE scores, with r values ranging from 0.38 to 0.60. This correlation was highest for USMLE Step 1. Among the different MCAT subsets, the highest correlation was found for the biological sciences and verbal sections. There was near zero correlation between the writing subtest and USMLE scores.[/color]

    Donnon T, Paolucci EO, Violato C. The Predictive Validity of the MCAT for Medical School Performance and Medical Board Licensing Examinations: A Meta-Analysis of the Published Research. Academic Medicine 82(1), January 2007, 100-106.”


    I don’t think it correlates. MCAT is broad knowledge and step is very specific facts. And not even how to apply them, just facts. I got a 29 on my MCAT (not that great) and was in the 99% for both my Step I and Step II.


    Nice work, carliz, with the actual data!


    Thanks, AmmaMD! I’m actually taking my MCAT in 26 days (and counting), so I was pretty interested in the question.

    Google is a wonderful thing… =)

    I wonder if the new MCAT (coming in 2015) will show any stronger of a correlation? Hmm…


    [quote=AmmaMD]Nice work, carliz, with the actual data! [/quote]

    Yeah, data that appears to be statistically INsignificant? Not so good IMHO.

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