The Validity of MCAT Scores in Predicting Students' Performance and Progress in Medical School: Results From a Multisite Study

Acad Med. 2022 Sep 1;97(9):1374-1384. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000004754. Epub 2022 May 24.


Purpose: This is the first multisite investigation of the validity of scores from the current version of the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) in clerkship and licensure contexts. It examined the predictive validity of MCAT scores and undergraduate grade point averages (UGPAs) for performance in preclerkship and clerkship courses and on the United States Medical Licensing Examination Step 1 and Step 2 Clinical Knowledge examinations. It also studied students' progress in medical school.

Method: Researchers examined data from 17 U.S. and Canadian MD-granting medical schools for 2016 and 2017 entrants who volunteered for the research and applied with scores from the current MCAT exam. They also examined data for all U.S. medical schools for 2016 and 2017 entrants to regular-MD programs who applied with scores from the current exam. Researchers conducted linear and logistic regression analyses to determine whether MCAT total scores added value beyond UGPAs in predicting medical students' performance and progress. Importantly, they examined the comparability of prediction by sex, race and ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.

Results: Researchers reported medium to large correlations between MCAT total scores and medical student outcomes. Correlations between total UGPAs and medical student outcomes were similar but slightly lower. When MCAT scores and UGPAs were used together, they predicted student performance and progress better than either alone. Despite differences in average MCAT scores and UGPAs between students who self-identified as White or Asian and those from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, predictive validity results were comparable. The same was true for students from different socioeconomic backgrounds, and for males and females.

Conclusions: These data demonstrate that MCAT scores add value to the prediction of medical student performance and progress and that applicants from different backgrounds who enter medical school with similar ranges of MCAT scores and UGPAs perform similarly in the curriculum.

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • College Admission Test
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate*
  • Educational Measurement / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Schools, Medical
  • Students, Medical*
  • United States