Voiding the MCAT — What You Need to Know


The MCAT is a behemoth of a test with major ramifications for your future medical education. In other words, it causes untold amounts of stress among premeds everywhere. But did you know that after you take the MCAT, you have five minutes to decide if you want to void it and essentially toss it into the garbage? Your test won’t be graded at all, so the med schools you hope to win acceptance to won’t see it. This begs the question, is voiding the MCAT the ultimate test hack, or could it derail your application timeline?

In this post, we break down what it means to void the MCAT, the downsides of voiding the MCAT, how you can avoid it, and whether or not voiding the MCAT is the right decision for you.


What Does It Mean to Void the MCAT?

Voiding the MCAT means that after you sit down and take the mammoth eight hour test, you can cancel it and request it not be scored. You have five minutes at the end of the test to make this decision.

If you get up and leave in the middle of the test without declaring you want your test voided, you will still be graded on what you did and receive zeros for anything you leave blank. But if you tell the supervisors you want to void your MCAT, they will essentially throw it in the trash. It won’t be graded, so you will have no idea how you actually performed, and neither will schools.

The option to void your MCAT can be quite tempting after you take the test. You’re worn out, drained, and full of anxiety—and you know your top choice schools will see your score. Yes, you have the option to take the MCAT again, but schools will see this score along with the next one. If you void this test, they won’t see your score. You can take the test again and, hopefully, do better. Right?

There’s a lot more to it than that.

It’s a risky five minutes, as you won’t be in a very good headspace to make this decision. We can tell you from experience that everyone feels terrible after taking the MCAT. It’s a long, grueling process with a fairly large impact on your future medical education and career path. You may have missed questions. You may, and likely will, think you could have done better. However, these natural fears are not enough reason to cancel your MCAT and start the process all over again.

If you think you absolutely tanked your MCAT—as in, left an entire section blank or guessed your way through the whole thing—you can request that it not be scored. Otherwise, have confidence in all of the hard work that got you where you are.


Do Schools Know If You Void an MCAT?

No, medical schools will not know if you void an MCAT.

That said, this attempt will count in your total number of MCAT attempts. You can take the MCAT up to three times in a year, four times over two years, and seven times in a lifetime. Every scored attempt will appear on your record and be available to admissions committees, but if you void your MCAT, medical schools will be none the wiser.

While you will likely find plenty of conspiracy theories out there about medical schools being able to deduce which one of their applicants voided the MCAT, medical schools receive thousands of applications. They simply don’t have the time, resources, or interest to invest in determining who voided an MCAT.


What Are the Downsides of Voiding an MCAT?

Lost Time

You just spent several months studying for the MCAT. All of that accumulated knowledge won’t fade the moment you void your test, but you will need to ramp up studying again due to something called the forgetting curve.

the forgetting curve

No matter how hard you work to memorize MCAT facts, over time, you will forget them. You likely won’t be able to secure another test date for a couple of months, which means a lot of the work you put in previously will be lost.

You will need to rededicate yourself to studying for the MCAT, which could get in the way of your extracurriculars as well as the other important pieces of your medical school application, such as your personal statement. These components are also vital to your application’s success. If you use all of your time studying for the MCAT again and neglect to create a compelling narrative with your personal statement, your application will likely fail.

Applying to medical school is a massive undertaking with many moving parts. Voiding and then retaking the MCAT is going to severely eat into the limited time you have to create a persuasive, narrative-based application, all while keeping up with your studies and gaining meaningful extracurricular experience.

Lost Cost

Without fee assistance, the cost to take the MCAT is $330. Therefore, using your first MCAT as a practice test doesn’t make much sense financially. Why put yourself through the stress of preparing for the test and spending eight hours at the testing center only to cancel the test?

It’s much better to invest in practice tests that will help you gauge your preparedness while giving you feedback on what areas you need to focus on to improve. Not only are the practice tests cheaper, but you’ll actually find out how you performed.

Even if you feel like you performed terribly on the MCAT, you don’t know for sure, and you won’t know at all if you void it. It’s an expensive practice round that doesn’t provide you with any insight into where to focus your efforts next.

No Information

Sure, now you’ve taken the test and you may be thinking that was good practice, but when you void the test, you don’t get to see your results. You don’t actually gain any useful information to help you the next time around.

You might come away thinking you need to do more biochemistry flashcards, but you can find this out a lot more cheaply and easily by doing practice tests or by simply reflecting on your own strengths and weaknesses. What subject matter consistently causes you the most difficulty? Do not take the MCAT just to void it as a means of practice.

Possible Delayed Application

It will take time to reschedule your MCAT, and you may not be able to get another test until after applications open up. For example, if you take your first test in April and you book another test right away, you likely won’t be able to take the test again until July.

This could potentially hold up your application, and considering our top tip for earning medical school acceptance is submitting early, you do not want to submit your application late.

This is due to rolling admissions. Medical schools consider applications on a continuous (rolling) basis, which means they look at them as they are submitted. People who submit early get offered the first interview spots, and these spots fill up fast. In other words, the later you submit, the fewer chances you have to earn acceptance.

Learn more: How Late Can You Submit Your Primary Application? (Without Consequence).


How to Avoid Voiding the MCAT

Student holding book ready to ask a question - Best MCAT Tutors

1 | Treat the MCAT as a One Time Event

Don’t enter your MCAT believing you’ll have more chances after this one. You do not want to take the MCAT again. Trust us—once is more than enough. Think of it like a championship game, the Super Bowl or the Stanley Cup. There are no second chances. If you don’t win this game, it’s all over, so leave it all on the field and give it everything you have.

If you enter your MCAT believing you can always void it and take the test again, you won’t give it your all. Succeeding on the MCAT takes all of your attention and focus. While you can technically take the MCAT more than once, it’s far from ideal.

Treating the experience casually will not set you up for success. You will always have it in the back of your mind that you can void the test if something goes wrong, and these insecurities will grow as this grueling, day-long test wears on you. Remember, nearly everyone feels like they could have done a little better when they finish the MCAT, but this feeling alone is not enough to void it.

2 | Prepare a Study Schedule and Stick to It

In our experience, studying for three to six months is ideal. Generally, these approaches are most successful:

  • Study for about three months full-time (40-50 hours per week)
  • Study for about six months part-time (12-25 hours per week)

Studying for a short period of time with high intensity often yields better results because of two factors: the forgetting curve, which we touched on above, and burnout. More hours spent studying does not necessarily equal increased knowledge.

The further out we are from when a memory was made, the more we forget that memory. The more hours you spend studying, the more likely you are to burn out. And the more burnt out you feel, the less effective your studying will be.

When you start studying for the MCAT depends on when you plan to take the test and how much time you can devote to studying per week. As an undergrad, you also have your coursework to focus on, so you likely won’t be able to study for more than 12-25 hours per week. Therefore, you want to start studying six months out from your test date.

If you’re taking the MCAT in the summer, taking a break/gap year from school, or planning to take the test after you graduate, you might be able to devote 40-50 hours to studying per week, which means you can start three months out.

When creating your schedule, build in time for:

  • Learning all of the high-yield content
  • Reviewing the content
  • Completing multiple practice tests
  • Catch up days
  • Breaks

Create a schedule that works with your study habits and strengths, not against them, and then stick to that schedule. What you do before and after studying matters too. Design an optimized morning routine and night routine that fits with your study schedule.

We have a lot to stay about optimizing your MCAT studying. Learn more in our dedicated guides: The Problem With Your MCAT Studying (& How to Fix It) and When Should You Start Studying for the MCAT?

3 | Take Plenty of Practice Tests

There’s no better way to familiarize yourself with the MCAT than practice questions and practice tests. Practice tests are invaluable to your MCAT studying. We recommend utilizing them almost as soon as you begin—two or so weeks after you start content review.

This will give you a sense of what the questions on the MCAT are actually like, which will help you study more effectively. Plus, your first practice test gives you a good idea of where you’re starting from. Understanding your own strengths and weaknesses can help you tailor your studying.

Aim to take a practice exam at least once every one to two weeks during your study period. This will help you track your progress, identify weak points, understand the pacing of the MCAT, and how concepts will be tested; you’ll also learn a lot of essential, high-yield content in the process, too.

Note that the AAMC practice tests are the most representative of the real test—both in the experience and your predicted score. They are, after all, made by the official test makers.

One of the most important aspects of practice questions and tests is reviewing both your correct and incorrect answers, as it’s possible you can get a question right for the wrong reason. Learning where an error occurred is a crucial learning opportunity you can’t afford to neglect. It’s not enough to understand why an answer is correct; you must also know why the other choices are incorrect.

Take every opportunity to learn from your mistakes so that you don’t repeat them on test day. Reason through each question to ensure you understand their underlying concepts, and make flashcards for any concepts or questions you repeatedly miss.

Learn more: How to Use Practice Questions and Tests Properly.

4 | Only Take the Test If You’re Prepared

It can be tough to know if you’re ready to take the MCAT, so it’s time to be honest with yourself and take a full account of your studying. How has it been going? Are you satisfied with the intensity of your efforts? Have you, for the most part, stuck to your study schedule?

If you’ve been sticking to your study plan and still have a while before your test date, you likely do not need to delay your MCAT. By the same token, if you’ve been distracted and neglected your study schedule, or if your test date is fast approaching and you’re not anywhere close to your target score, you may want to consider delaying your MCAT.

It’s important to consider objective measures of your preparedness. How are your MCAT practice test scores? Remember, the AAMC practice tests are the closest to the real thing. How much can you improve in the time you have left to study? If you have two weeks of dedicated studying prior to your test date, you can likely expect a couple of points improvement compared to your AAMC predicted scores.

However, this is no guarantee. Moving from a 490 to a 500 is a lot easier than moving from 515 to 525. Plus, it’s important to factor in the kind of test taker you are. Many of us struggle when faced with the pressure of taking the actual test at the testing center, and this pressure can cost you a few points. Pay attention to what you score at home and know that it will likely drop by a few points on test day.

You also need to schedule your MCAT in advance, which is why making a schedule and sticking to it is critical to your success. You can judge your progress based on your study schedule to ensure you’re actually on track to be prepared for your test date.

Know that if you want to change your MCAT test date or test center, it will likely cost you.

  • If you want to make any changes to the date or testing center 60 or more days before your exam, it will cost $50.
  • If you want to make these changes 30-59 days before your exam, it will cost $100.
  • In both cases, if you want to cancel the test completely, you will get a refund of $165.
  • If you want to make changes 10-29 days before the exam, it will cost you $200, and you will not be refunded. The MCAT costs $330 to begin with, so know that making changes at this time will cost you.

The 10-day deadline is your last opportunity to make any changes or cancel your test. If, for some reason, you miss the 10-day deadline and absolutely do not feel prepared to take the test, there may be an exception for taking the test as a practice run.

You’ve already paid for the test, so you might choose to take it anyway and void it. But remember that by doing this, you must commit to the next MCAT date you can book. Does that leave you enough time to apply to medical school soon after applications open?

Learn more: Should You Delay Your MCAT? How to Know If You’re Ready.

5 | Don’t Second-Guess Yourself

Imposter syndrome is very common among premeds. It’s easy to believe you’ll never be ready for the MCAT, when in reality, you have what it takes to achieve a score in the top percentile.

To combat these feelings of inadequacy, focus on objective measurements like your practice test scores. Trust in the hundreds of hours of studying you’ve already put in. If you’re still worried, use the AAMC content outline as a sanity check to reassure yourself you’ve fully covered the items that will be tested on the MCAT.

If you’ve faithfully followed your study schedule and succeeded on practice test after practice test, it’s time to stop second-guessing yourself. Just like the thousands upon thousands of hopeful premeds who came before you, you can do this.


What Are Good Reasons to Void the MCAT?

Student worried about studying.

Now, while rare, there are circumstances in which it might be a good idea to void your MCAT.

Voiding your MCAT must be a very deliberate decision that should not be based on anxiety or feeling like you missed some questions on the test. You should only consider voiding your MCAT if you missed large portions of the exam, felt terrible about specific sections, guessed through the entire thing, suffered technical issues, or felt you could not truly invest your all in the experience because of extenuating circumstances beyond your control.

For example, if you have a terrible case of food poisoning when you take the test, you probably are not able to give it your best effort. If you’ve just recently broken up with your partner or lost someone close to you, you’re likely not in the right headspace to succeed on the MCAT. If this is your situation, it may be better to void your test than to have it scored.

However, we cannot stress enough that voiding the MCAT should never be your first option. Yes, schools won’t see your score, but you will still need to reschedule and pay for a new test, and retaking the MCAT could mess up your application timeline, preventing you from matriculating to med school this cycle.


Bottom Line—Should I Void the MCAT?

So, should you void the MCAT? In most cases, no, you should absolutely not void the MCAT. Entering the test with voiding in mind lowers your confidence and prevents you from giving it your all. Why put in your full effort now when you can just void it and try again later? This mindset does not set you up for success.

Although voiding your MCAT is an option, it’s not one you should actively consider unless you’re violently ill or going through a traumatic personal loss.

Yes, the MCAT is very stressful, but with the right preparation and study techniques, you can certainly find success and score in the top percentile. Remember to follow evidence-based learning strategies while preparing for the MCAT and adjust your studying according to your weaknesses. Take in advice, follow best practices, use proven resources—like Memm, and, ultimately, do what feels right to you.

Med School Insiders offers tailored MCAT tutoring designed around your strengths and weaknesses to help you make the greatest improvements. You’ll be matched with a top-scoring tutor for a custom-built strategy and one-on-one mentorship.


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