Do MCAT scores predict USMLE scores? An analysis on 5 years of medical student data

Jacqueline L. Gauer, Josephine M. Wolff, J. Brooks Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Introduction: The purpose of this study was to determine the associations and predictive values of Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) component and composite scores prior to 2015 with U.S. Medical Licensure Exam (USMLE) Step 1 and Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) scores, with a focus on whether students scoring low on the MCAT were particularly likely to continue to score low on the USMLE exams. Method: Multiple linear regression, correlation, and chi-square analyses were performed to determine the relationship between MCAT component and composite scores and USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK scores from five graduating classes (2011-2015) at the University of Minnesota Medical School (N=1,065). Results: The multiple linear regression analyses were both significant (p < 0.001). The three MCAT component scores together explained 17.7% of the variance in Step 1 scores (p < 0.001) and 12.0% of the variance in Step 2 CK scores (p < 0.001). In the chi-square analyses, significant, albeit weak associations were observed between almost all MCAT component scores and USMLE scores (Cramer's V ranged from 0.05 to 0.24). Discussion: Each of the MCAT component scores was significantly associated with USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK scores, although the effect size was small. Being in the top or bottom scoring range of the MCAT exam was predictive of being in the top or bottom scoring range of the USMLE exams, although the strengths of the associations were weak to moderate. These results indicate that MCAT scores are predictive of student performance on the USMLE exams, but, given the small effect sizes, should be considered as part of the holistic view of the student.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number31795
JournalMedical Education Online
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Admissions
  • Chi-square
  • MCAT
  • Multiple linear regression
  • Predictive value

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Education


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