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Canadian123

How many questions can I get wrong on the MCAT to get a 506?

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There aren't a certain "number" of questions you need to get right or wrong to achieve a specific score- it's graded on a bell curve, so the number of questions per section you can get wrong to achieve a certain score depends on the difficulty of the specific test and how other people have done on those questions. When I was doing practice tests, I frequently noticed this- to score a 128, for example, sometimes you could get 10 questions wrong, sometimes only 5, sometimes 12, etc. There was really no rhyme or reason to it. Of course, this is a good thing- it means that on a difficult test, you have more room to get things wrong.

As for your goal, that seems reasonable to me, but totally depends on your base knowledge, the amount of time you have to study, etc.

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I think they actually don't do a bell curve but convert raw scores according to the AAMC website on MCAT scoring if memory serves. They do some analytics to see if a test is harder and would correct your score accordingly, but your individual score is NOT analyzed against all other test takers and normalized. They use such large confidence bands when you get your official score back (like if your score was a 127, the confidence band runs from 126-128, a huge area) probably because these adjustments are just approximations since it's not a true standardized test. So a 50th percentile is not actually better than half the other testers and multiple people can get a 100th percentile on the same test (though unlikely!) as they are using some secret raw score conversion (e.g. 53/59 = 130). I suspect official practice tests also use that algorithm so that's why there's such variation.

So a 125 minimum in each section is very doable and you can likely get 1-2 wrong in each passage (or maybe even more, I'm not sure) but I'm sure with a consistent, dedicated study regime you can do even better. Also if you are gauging performance based on prep companies they are known to have much harder raw score conversions than the real test. When you're ready use the official AAMC practice tests to gauge performance more precisely.

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On 7/18/2020 at 1:36 AM, UwoToUo said:

I think they actually don't do a bell curve but convert raw scores according to the AAMC website on MCAT scoring if memory serves. They do some analytics to see if a test is harder and would correct your score accordingly, but your individual score is NOT analyzed against all other test takers and normalized. They use such large confidence bands when you get your official score back (like if your score was a 127, the confidence band runs from 126-128, a huge area) probably because these adjustments are just approximations since it's not a true standardized test. So a 50th percentile is not actually better than half the other testers and multiple people can get a 100th percentile on the same test (though unlikely!) as they are using some secret raw score conversion (e.g. 53/59 = 130). I suspect official practice tests also use that algorithm so that's why there's such variation.

So a 125 minimum in each section is very doable and you can likely get 1-2 wrong in each passage (or maybe even more, I'm not sure) but I'm sure with a consistent, dedicated study regime you can do even better. Also if you are gauging performance based on prep companies they are known to have much harder raw score conversions than the real test. When you're ready use the official AAMC practice tests to gauge performance more precisely.

Sorry, I should've clarified about the bell curve- you're correct in that you're definitely NOT scored against other people who you wrote the test with (in fact I'm pretty sure every test is different in terms of passages and questions and no two people write the exact same test) but what they do is they put "test" questions on each MCAT and based on how people do on these test questions, that's how they decide how to score them. So when you write the MCAT, there will be certain questions or passages that actually don't count towards your score, as they are "testing" them. It's a bit similar to the LSAT which has a full test section, but with the MCAT it's just questions or passages sprinkled in here and there.

So you're not scored compared to people writing tests at a similar time as you, but your score IS based on how people scored on certain questions a year or so before your test. It's a bell curve in the sense that based on these test questions, they are approximating what the curve would be. So it's a bell curve, but it's an approximate bell curve based on past students' responses to questions, not on a normalization done after your test

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Oh I see, I found out about the test questions recently and knew that they didn't count on your exam but thought they were just using them to try out questions that might be used in future tests, not to approximate scoring. I guess it's true that a harder test would have an easier "curve". Is the info on how they use test questions from the AAMC website?

Also OP how are you doing on your practice tests?

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The way they describe their scoring on their website is as a "scaled system" as opposed to a "curve", but again basically this just means that you should score the same thing no matter how hard the test is. They make it clear that the scale factor should get rid of any discrepancies in test difficulty

As for the info about the test questions, I couldn't find it on the AAMC website (I didn't look very hard though so it may be there somewhere) but I found an official statement from one of their social accounts stating "every question is field tested to determine its difficulty". So my interpretation (and I've also heard this from a bunch of people) is that how people perform on the field test questions (and probably normal questions as well) is what they use to determine the scaling factor for each passage/test

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