Best MCAT Prep Courses for 2017

We explain everything you need to know about the best MCAT Prep Courses

MCAT Test Prep

In most students' cases, the MCAT, or the Medical College Admission Exam, requires some intensive preparation. After all, the MCAT is a rigorous standardized exam that assesses your abilities in problem-solving, critical thinking and knowledge of sciences that serve as a basis for medical study.

So how will you prepare for the MCAT exam? Fortunately, I'm here to recommend the best MCAT prep course available; we recommend Kaplan's MCAT test prep.

Best MCAT Prep Courses for 2017 [INSERT_IMAGE]

Why Rely on a MCAT Preparation Course?

As of April 2015, the AAMC launched a completely new version of the MCAT, which is broken down into four sections: Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems, Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems, Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior, and Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills.

The MCATs are certainly difficult. In fact, there are many who have shared their horror stories regarding the test, but it makes sense for a test that takes over seven hours to complete to sound like a deterrent. It may be a tough test, but it isn't impossible to conquer. It is suggested that a prep course, especially a course that offers a real-time full-length proctored test, should be in your studying curriculum.

This is why I recommend Kaplan. Kaplan offers a variety of courses that will help most anyone achieve their potential, offering solid practice tests and sample questions, all while guiding you through the admissions process of medical school. Furthermore, it's Summer Intensive Program is unlike any other program available.

Determining the Best MCAT Prep Course

There are a variety of factors that has helped me select the best MCAT Prep Course among those offered. Here are just some of them:

Approach

The best MCAT prep course has a variety of approaches to help the student overcome their challenges. The approach can be on-site, online, one-on-one, self, or even summer and spring intensive. This is because every student has their own method of study. While some may be comfortable with self-preparation, others may find difficulty and prefer the comfort of private tutoring or a full summer intensive course.

MCAT Prep Materials

Materials also play a major role in selecting the best MCAT prep course. What does the service offer? What makes the service unique? For instance, Kaplan offers both SmartReports and MCAT Channel, as well as 14 full-length exams and the most available official AAMC practice questions.

Free resources are factored in as well. Does the service offer a pre-med checklist? A blog? Additional information regarding the MCAT? Sample classes? Practice events?

Furthermore, does the service excel beyond just test preparation? Does it offer admissions preparation services? Are there tips provided that will help you conquer your application into med school? Even better is that the service offers mock interviews.

MCAT Practice Materials

To succeed is to practice and strive for a better score, but to do that, you need the most realistic exams as possible. The best prep courses offer full-length and realistic practice exams, quizzes, and more. The tests should also come with full detailed explanations for the answers as well, to help you improve your understanding of concepts on the off-chance you answer a question incorrectly.

Customization

How customizable is the service? Does the service offer one-on-one tutoring? What about a personalized study plan? Or a subject refresher? These questions are all considered when I chose the best MCAT prep course.

Customer Service

Another aspect that is taken into consideration is the customer support. What are all the outlets that are offered? Can the service be contacted through social media, email, phone, live chat, and any other available resource? Does support care about the needs of students?

Best MCAT Prep Classes

Kaplan's MCAT section contains plenty of information and prep options. Some of the options are even free! Kaplan places its faith in you as a MCAT test taker, and it will provide you with all the tools you need, as you're facing one of the most stamina- and focus-draining exams in the existence of test taking.

Kaplan can provide you with over 150 hours of total instruction, practice tools, applications, and on demand Science Review videos. You'll also receive access to the Kaplan-exclusive MCAT Channel. Not only that, but Kaplan also requires every instructor to be score-qualified and rigorously trained on the exam, so you know you will be taught well.

Kaplan also places emphasis on personalization with its unique SmartReports system, as well as realistic practice with 14 full-length exams and over 8,000 MCAT practice items. Not only that but twice as many doctors prepared for the MCAT with a Kaplan course than with any other course. To top it all off, you're supported by Kaplan's Money Back Guarantee!

There are plenty of MCAT Prep course options. Here's a quick overview of each prep course:

In Person

With the In Person package, you'll receive over 540 hours of instruction and practice. You'll also have access to over 300 hours of online resources, including 14 full-length practice tests, as well as The MCAT Channel. The In Person course contains the structure and support you will need to succeed.

In Person Plus

You'll have access to everything that is included in the In Person course, plus personalized coaching that will help you manage your time wisely and create a personalized study plan. Additionally, you'll be able to indulge in two foundations (self-paced) online courses and three one-on-one sessions with your MCAT Coach either online or via the virtual classroom.

Live Online

You'll enjoy Kaplan's structure and support at a location and time that's more convenient for you. You'll still be learning from a score-qualified MCAT instructor, but you'll be able to access off-camera instructors who will be able to answer private questions in real-time. Just like In Person, you will be able to receive live instruction via The MCAT Channel. You'll also be able to prep on the go!

Live Online Plus

Live Online Plus provides you with everything contained in the Live Online course, but with the additional benefits that are found in the In Person course. Refer to the In Person course description for more information.

Self-Paced

This course will allow you to prep at anytime and anywhere. You'll receive access to over 100 hours of total instruction, as well as over 8,000 MCAT practice items. You'll have the complete MCAT library, including 7-book Subject Review, Lesson Book, and High-Yield Problem Solving Guide, access to the MCAT Qbank, and access to the mobile flashcard app.

Self-Paced Plus

This premium option includes all of the perks found in the MCAT Self-Paced package, plus free and unlimited access to The MCAT Channel, three one-on-one sessions, personalized coaching, and more.

Private MCAT Tutoring

You can also receive private tutoring, which allows you to create a customized study plan and includes a full In Person or Live Online Course, where you can either meet with your tutor in person or online, whichever you'd like.

Summer Intensive

If you'd like the ultimate MCAT experience, you may want to opt into the Summer Intensive program, which only occurs in Atlanta, Boston, Boulder, and San Diego. These exclusive courses provide you with over 500 hours of available resources and six weeks of live, customized MCAT immersion. You'll be more or less placed in a camp that focuses on nothing else but review, study, and workshops. No worries, you'll still receive three meals a day.

Spring Break Intensive

For the first time, Kaplan is offering a live, online boot camp that can be taken during spring break. The Spring Break Intensive program offers over 150 hours of strategically structured programming. You'll also select a MCAT Prep In Person, Live Online, or Self-Paced course for any 2017 test date. The Spring Break Intensive boot camp begins on March 4.

MCAT Practice Test

There are various methods to approach a MCAT practice test. You should analyze the test, break it down, and do all that you can to understand the test's approaches before you take the test. Fortunately, many sites offer sample tests and several preparation courses offer full-length practice tests. Here are just some practice tests/quizzes that you can take that aren't embedded into a course:

  • Kaplan's MCAT Pop Quiz - If you want to kick off your practice session and are curious to see how well you would do on the MCAT initially, then perhaps you can take a quick MCAT quiz, complete with answer reviews and full explanations in order to gauge how informative Kaplan's content is.
  • 4Tests - You can take a free exam here, which consists of 60 questions. This exam is provided to you by Next Step Prep.
  • AAMC's Official MCAT Practice Exam 1 (Online) - For only $35, you'll be able to take a 230-question practice exam that mirrors the actual MCAT exam in terms of length and functionality.
  • Official MCAT Sample Test (Online) - Another official AAMC product, you can practice with the full-length MCAT practice test with this $25 option.

Of course, you can simply and solely rely on full-length practice tests that exist within Kaplan's courses.

Best MCAT Prep Books

It's always good to rely on MCAT prep books as you prepare for your big day. Here are just some of the books I'd recommend as your study aids:

Kaplan MCAT Complete 7-Book Subject Review - Whether you use Kaplan's prep courses or simply its 7-Book Subject Review, you are guaranteed to be on track for a higher MCAT score. This gargantuan book set, which offers instruction in Behavior Sciences, Biochemistry, Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Physics and Math, and Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills, is quite thorough in its subject review, offering more questions than any other competitor, as well as the highest-yield questions available.

Princeton Review MCAT Subject Review Complete Box Set, 2nd Edition - The Princeton Review is second Kaplan when it comes to MCAT, and this box set, which features seven complete books and access to three full-length practice tests, is the thickest offered, offering a lot of extra content outside of the scope of the new MCAT while following the AAMC guidelines.

What can be a little concerning is that not all of its books are the second edition, but instead first and third. Furthermore, there is only one passage at the end of each chapter designed for practice. Overall, despite some mistakes, the guide is incredibly useful when it comes to concept instruction, even though the MCAT exams reflect poorly on the actual exam in terms of difficulty (the Princeton review also had issues with this in its GMAT prep books).

Examkrackers MCAT Complete Study Package, 10th Edition - This reworked 10th edition offers a variety of study materials that should serve any MCAT test-taker well. Most importantly, errors that have been found in previous packages have even been corrected in the 10th Edition. There are six books in this package: Reasoning Skills Manual: Verbal, Research, and Math, Biology 1: Biochemistry Manual, Biology 2: Systems Manual, Psychology and Sociology Manual, General and Organic Chemistry Manual, and Physics Manual.

The guide overall provides an easy-to-approach style of writing, allowing you to indulge only the information that is required in the MCATs. Examkrackers also provides you with thorough 30-minute topical exams that are similar to the real MCAT. If you want an enjoyable and straightforward study guide, Examkrackers should be taken into consideration.

Best MCAT Prep Course Recap

Overall, I recommend Kaplan due to a variety of factors, including but not limited to its delivery options, intensive programs, personalization features, and its variety of free resources. The MCATs are certainly a challenge, but Kaplan understands, and that is why Kaplan is regarded as the number one MCAT prep leader. If you'd like to receive up-to-date information on the MCATs, then you should consider following the official MCAT Twitter account.

Though becoming accepted into medical school is a challenge, what will also be challenging are the accruing student loans. Perhaps you should read our review of the best scholarship websites to help alleviate some of that future debt.

If you're looking for information and our evaluation of other online prep courses, you can check out our articles on the SAT, ACT, GMAT, GRE, and LSAT prep courses.

Best MCAT Prep Courses FAQs

Q What does the MCAT stand for?

A

The MCAT stands for the Medical College Admission Test.

When is the MCAT offered?

For the 2017 year, the MCAT is administered 25 times, though testing dates are more common in the summer than at any other time of the year.

How long is the MCAT?

Not including breaks, the MCAT testing will take approximately 6 hours and 15 minutes. However, the total "seated" time is 7 hours and 30 minutes - this is according to Gold Standard. That's quite the lengthy test.

How much does it cost to take the MCAT?

There are three different registration zones for MCAT pricing. If you register during the Gold zone, which is one month before MCAT, you'll only be paying $310, though if you qualify for a fee assistance program, you'll only pay $120.

If you register during the Silver zone, or three or four weeks before the exam, you will pay $310 or $120 if you are eligible for fee assistance.

Finally, if you register during the Bronze zone, which is one or two weeks before the exam, you'll be paying $365, or $175 if you're eligible for fee assistance.

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