There are many intelligent students with the drive and desire to become doctors, but unfortunately, that ambition doesn’t always translate into high MCAT scores. A low score on your MCAT exam can be devastating but it doesn’t mean that your dreams of being a doctor are over. Here are some methods that can be used to make up for a low MCAT score.

Retake the Test

Sometimes we need to take a few steps back in order to move forward. Retaking the MCAT exam is an opportunity to rethink your MCAT test prep strategy and demonstrate that you can always improve. Many schools will acknowledge the effort put in to gain a higher score and consider your medical school application based on the new results. Retaking the test is not necessarily the only answer. There are other ways to make your medical school application more enticing.

Letters of Recommendation

Seek out letters of recommendation from respected members of the community, and from those in the medical field. Look for people who can vouch for your reliability, eagerness to learn and dedication to becoming a doctor. Former teachers, employers and your own doctors are excellent sources for letters of recommendation. For good measure, a couple of personal recommendations could also be beneficial to communicate your core values and personality.

Reconsider Your School List

Should you discover you had a lower MCAT score than you had hoped, it may be time to adjust the list of medical schools that you want to apply to. While the top schools may be more desirable to you, they may not be a realistic choice. Seek out schools that will appreciate your other strengths and apply to schools that have a higher acceptance rate and a lower number of applications.

Consider Graduate School

Medical school is not going anywhere, and there is time to continue your education before applying to med school. Look at getting a Master’s Degree or Ph.D. that relates to the sciences and the medical field. Exceling in one of these programs may give you the edge you need on your application. However, don’t just go to graduate school as a means of getting into medical school. Ensure that any course you take is something you believe in and want to learn, otherwise you won’t see the results you hope for. Your heart must be in it.

Gain Experience

Shadowing clinicians is an excellent form of gaining more experience before applying to med school. Ask questions, talk to patients, listen to nurses. Any way that you can learn from those who have been working in medicine is going to be a positive step.

Volunteer in the medical field to gain practical experience and develop strong relationships with more people in the health sciences. Showing a willingness to learn and donate your time in the name of medicine will look great on your application.

However you choose to proceed, remember that the MCAT is just an exam and a low score doesn’t have to shape the rest of your life. Re-focus your efforts and keep working towards your ultimate goals.