Does Masking MCAT Scores during Admissions Increase Equity?

Michael J. Arnold*, Ting Dong, Robert Liotta, Aaron A. Saguil, Steven J. Durning

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose To improve admissions process equity, the Uniformed Services University masked Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) scores at or above the 51st percentile to admissions committee members. This policy was aimed at improving admissions rates for applicants in 2 priority groups: those from races and ethnicities underrepresented in medicine (URM) and those from lower socioeconomic status, represented by first-generation college (FGC) graduates. Method All applicants invited to interview were included: 1,624 applicants from admissions years 2014-2016 before MCAT score masking and 1,668 applicants from admissions years 2018-2020 during MCAT score masking. Logistic regression determined admissions likelihood before and during masking. Independent sample t tests compared average admissions committee scores for all applicants and for those in priority groups. Linear regression determined the weight of MCAT scores on admissions committee scores. Results Despite there being more priority group applicants during MCAT score masking, the admissions likelihood for an individual priority group applicant decreased during this period. URM applicants had an odds ratio of 0.513 for acceptance during MCAT score masking compared to before masking, and FGC applicants had an odds ratio of 0.695. Masking significantly reduced mean admissions committee scores, which decreased approximately twice as much for priority group applicants as for nonpriority group applicants (0.96 points vs 0.51 points). These score decreases were highest for priority group applicants with MCAT scores above the 67th percentile. Masking reduced the weight of MCAT scores; 10.9% of admissions committee score variance was explained by MCAT scores before masking and only 1.2% during masking. Conclusions Despite known disparities in MCAT scores with respect to race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status, admissions decisions in this study were more equitable when MCAT scores were included. While masking MCAT scores reduced the influence of the exam in admissions decisions, it also reduced admissions rates for URM and FGC applicants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1413-1419
Number of pages7
JournalAcademic Medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2023
Externally publishedYes


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