As test day approaches, you may be considering the idea of voiding your exam afterwards. While there are real reasons for voiding your MCAT exam, it’s important to know when voiding is the correct choice.
After finishing every section on the MCAT, you are given the option to void your exam. If you choose to do so, then your exam will be wiped and there will be no record of taking it. This can be risky, as it may delay your medical school application and cause you to continue studying. Still, there are times when voiding the MCAT is the right decision.
As a general rule of thumb, if you’re confident enough to take the test on test day, then you shouldn’t void it. How can you tell if your confidence is well founded?
The AAMC has official practice tests that were once given to students as actual MCAT exams, which means that the scores you receive on those exams are the scores you would have received if you took the exam with those cohorts. Students almost always score within 3-4 points of the average of their practice exams.
Because of this, you should save those exams for the last three weeks of your studying—take one every weekend until test day. Try to mimic the actual test taking environment as well as you can. If your practice test scores meet your target score, then be confident, and go for it! If not, it may be a good idea to reschedule your exam (or, if you really want to, you could take the exam with the intention to void it just to see what it’s like).
Okay. You've done all this, and you’ve finally finished your exam. You feel badly and want to void it. This is the time to ask yourself a few questions:
1. Do I feel badly because of anxiety?
If anxiety is the cause, then don’t void. Everybody will feel anxious after the exam—don’t let those few questions you weren’t sure about chew you up. I have personally had students and friends who were convinced they did poorly, only to score higher than they did on any practice test.
2. Do I feel badly because it was harder than practice tests?
Remember, the MCAT is a scaled exam. This means that you are graded based on how everybody else does relative to you. If you thought the exam was hard, then it’s likely that so did everybody else.
3. Do I feel badly because I guessed on a lot of questions?
Again, the MCAT is a scaled exam. If you guessed a lot, chances are, so did everybody else.
4. Do I feel badly because I ran out of time?
This is tricky. If you believe that you took the exam exactly like you did your practice tests, and still ran out of time causing you to miss entire passages, you may want to consider voiding. However, think about why you ran out of time. If you believe it was because the test was harder than you expected, don’t void. If you ran out of time because you misread the clock, got hung up on one question, or something else unexpected, then voiding may be a good idea. For these reasons, it’s important to practice pacing well before taking the MCAT.
5. Do I feel badly for reasons out of my control?
This is the most likely reason somebody should void their exam. Maybe you woke up with a flu or something else unexpected, causing your performance to suffer. Maybe you weren’t able to get a good night’s sleep the night before. Maybe you had a panic attack in the middle of the test. If you believe that something out of your control affected your performance, then it may be a good idea to consider voiding your exam.
Here's the bottom line:
Because taking the MCAT multiple times can look like a blemish on your application, it is important to only take the exam when you are ready, voiding only if absolutely necessary. If you are confident enough in your practice test scores, then believe in yourself, even if some voice inside your head is telling you to void your exam because it was difficult.
If you're still not sure, talk to an expert. Does your school provide an academic counselor who's familiar with the MCAT and med school admissions? Do you have a trusted mentor who has been there and can provide you with some solid guidance? If not, you can always consider speaking with one of our MCAT tutors or med school admissions consultants. We're here if you need us. If not, deep breaths — you will make it through!