The 8 Best MCAT Prep Courses for 2020
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The road to becoming a doctor involves passion and integrity but before you can begin helping others you need to get a good score on the MCAT. Studying on your own may not always be the most effective, however, and MCAT prep courses are there to provide structured support that matches both your goals and learning style.
To help you make the best possible decision, we will be reviewing 8 of the best MCAT prep courses on the market and break all of them out within 4 major evaluation categories.
Still in college? Double check that you are taking these college classes before the MCAT!
How We Evaluated the MCAT Prep Courses
We looked at 4 major categories when evaluating the MCAT prep courses and ranked each course on a scale of 1-5. While there might be other factors that impact your decision, these should get you most of the way in determining if a course is a good fit for you.
The 8 Best MCAT Prep Courses
Let’s meet the contenders – each of these are awesome courses in their own right and what follows will be a summary overview of each, a ranked evaluation based on the aforementioned categories, and a short-but-in-depth review of the course overall.
We also did long and comprehensive reviews of each of these in order to go into even more detail – click “Long Review” to check those out!
Next Step Test Prep
Next Step MCAT is a personalized online MCAT prep course that utilizes diagnostic test results to create a custom study plan. This MCAT course includes 240+ hours of live instruction over a 6-month period. In addition to the course, students can join 2-hour live Office Hours up to 5 times per week.
Kaplan is among the top commercial MCAT prep course options and provides a wide variety of course deliveries including Live Online, In Person, On Demand, Tutoring & Consulting, as well as Winter and Summer Intensives.
Gold Standard is one of the best resources for MCAT review materials that an aspiring medical student can utilize. They provide various prep courses and packages that are tailored to the needs of prospective test takers.
With robust in-person and online course options, Altius is one of the leading providers of quality MCAT prep courses. Their strengths lie in how they structure their courses as well as their comprehensive practice tests and 90th percentile score guarantee for all students.
Examkrackers MCAT On-Demand combines 12 weeks of recorded lectures, full-length simulated MCAT tests and mini tests, as well as in-depth review of each question. Included in the course fee is EK’s highly-regarded Comprehensive Book Set.
The Princeton Review MCAT Ultimate Course is the most comprehensive, intensive MCAT course offered both Live Online or In-Person. 123 hours of live instruction by a team of 4-6 subject-matter experts means you’ll be ready for the MCAT in as little as 12 weeks.
Magoosh MCAT sets itself apart as one of the only budget MCAT prep courses on the market today. This MCAT course includes 1-12 months of access to 380+ video lessons, 3 practice tests of over 700 practice questions, detailed text explanations, email assistance, and a 7-day money back guarantee.
Khan Academy is the premier partner of the AAMC, offering a free MCAT prep course. All content is approved by the AAMC and is available on-demand as video content and can be accessed across all devices through their app or website. Khan Academy is best known for their MCAT content review and students use it either as a standalone content review or as a supplement to their preferred MCAT book set.
Best MCAT Course by Curriculum
The curriculum should be at (or near) the top of your list when evaluating MCAT prep courses. After all, are you really going to complain about a subpar app if the course offers endless practice questions written by industry leading experts?
Luckily, most of these courses set the bar quite high when it comes to MCAT curriculum – between practice tests, practice questions, and customized study plans, there is something here for everyone.
NextStep Test Prep
Study curriculum is customized for each student based on diagnostic test results. Instructors are required to have taken the MCAT and scored in the 99th+ percentile.
Altius provides up to 5 different types of reviews as well as 10 exact-match MCAT practice tests. They offer both in-person and online classes as well as summer bootcamps.
They offer thousands of review questions, content-filled eBooks, hours of video, and much more! They cover everything you need to know.
This 12-week course is designed to diagnose your weaknesses and improve your strengths. A team of 4-6 subject matter experts, each uniquely certified in a topic area, will help you to conquer complex topics that you will see on test day.
The video content is too simplified, yet the questions’ difficulty makes up for this and helps to identify low-yield gaps.
The curriculum in Kaplan’s MCAT course is not fully comprehensive and requires a lot of self-study outside of class.
The instructors scored well on the MCAT but reports show that this does not translate to being effective teachers for many classes..
Top-notch content that adequately prepares students before the MCAT.
Best MCAT Course by Pricing
Nothing about becoming a doctor is cheap but there are some welcome exceptions when it comes to MCAT prep courses. If you’re into self-study go ahead and read on, but if you’re looking for a hands-on prep experience brace yourself because some of these courses can get pricey.
NextStep Test Prep
Next Step Test Prep’s cost is about 30% lower than its commercial competitors.
Altius is expensive but comparable to heavy hitters like Kaplan and Princeton Review.
Several pricing options ranging from very affordable to relatively expensive. Priced fairly and flexible to your needs.
Princeton Review’s MCAT Ultimate is expensive but keep an eye out for sales as they often mark down prices during holidays and special promotions.
This is among the cheapest commercial MCAT prep course available and you get a ton of value for what you pay.
Kaplan is expensive, even if you opt for their on-demand course option.
The prices for on-demand are on-par with Kaplan and Princeton Review, but they offer about 60% fewer simulated MCAT exams.
All Khan Academy courses come at a low cost of FREE.
Best MCAT Course by Platform
How you actually digest these courses can significantly impact how you perform and most of these courses offer both in-person and online offerings. Make sure to consider how you prefer to learn when browsing this category as there is nothing worse than thinking you can self-study and then realizing you should have sprung for the in-person option.
Pro tip – make sure the MCAT curriculum you like above matches your preferred platform here.
NextStep Test Prep
This is a hybrid course with both on-demand video lessons and live-online small-group Office Hours which can be accessed from your online dashboard. The testing platform resembles the same features found on the AAMC 2019 interface. You can also style every aspect of this content in the module Design settings and even apply custom CSS to this text in the module Advanced settings.
The ability to receive in-person tutoring in most major cities as well as the newly-released MCAT Anywhere Online Platform make Altius’ platform really appealing.
Their interface and questions strongly resemble the real MCAT, but they don’t offer detailed tools for tracking your progress as you study.
Princeton Review’s LiveOnline course is extremely user-friendly and offers comprehensive score reports, subject-specific diagnostic exams, and on-demand videos all located in the student dashboard.
Everything is streamlined and can be accessed online on any device. They have an app but it can only support flashcards so far.
The adaptive Qbank and simulated MCAT practice tests make Kaplan’s platform top-notch
The on-demand platform is not streamlined, so the resources come from a variety of locations.
The app can be connected across devices, allowing for better progress tracking.
Best MCAT Course by Student Feedback
Consider student feedback the tiebreaker for this list – if you’ve got your eye on a more than one course it’s always a good idea to see what previous students thought.
NextStep Test Prep
Students show an average increase of 9-10 points from their first MCAT diagnostic test to their official MCAT score. Public student reviews, however, are limited which makes a full assessment difficult.
Most students rave about Altius – their score guarantee and the sheer number of resources they provide make them hugely popular.
Reviews are mostly positive. The majority of students are happy with Gold Standard MCAT Prep.
Many students who opted for the In-Person would have chosen the LiveOnline if they could do it again.
The general consensus is that the Magoosh video content is too simple, yet it makes up for it with its difficult questions.
Students either loved this course or hated it, you’ll need to decide if this is the right fit for you before enrolling.
The EK simulated exams, books, and additional materials receive glowing reviews from students, however, the course itself needs improvement.
Students who utilized Khan Academy for content review have been pleased with their scores.
Short MCAT Prep Course Reviews
Next Step Test Prep
Read the full review: Next Step MCAT Review
The first comment you are likely to hear when you ask about Next Step Test Prep (NSTP) is how it can be personalized right from the beginning. That is because NSTP typically recommends that you take a diagnostic test which it then uses to determine your baseline score and that score is used to chart your study plan. Next Step’s Study Plan generator then creates a personalized study schedule depending on your selected MCAT test date. One interesting feature to note is that you can tweak the recommended study schedule to fit your routine and study plans.
The online course has a dashboard containing several tabs that give you access to a ton of study resources, your study plan and a discussion forum amongst other features. It’s important to note that Next Step is the only company who has fully updated all their practice exams and diagnostic to be fully aligned to the actual MCAT interface changes for 2019.
Next Step Test Prep made our list of best MCAT prep courses because its online courses include a large amount of video lessons and personal tutors that can help you during their online working hours. Although it is priced competitively with other online courses, the Next Step online course also offers live-online office hours, making it way more affordable than other live-online offerings. The advantage of this is that even though you are studying only, you will still experience the one-on-one attention from a tutor in the same way you would receive it in a classroom, which tends to help increase study attention for most.
NSTP’s MCAT prep is also broken out into nearly 20 different lessons that are well presented and easy to understand. Content review videos are also included to provide a quick summary of most sections in about 20 minutes or less. Next Step also includes fully-updated 4-color books to complement your course. And, most of their tutoring packages include access to the full online course.. a nice value-add.
This is the Best MCAT Prep Course For: Students who need both a customized study schedule and personalized help.
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The Princeton Review MCAT Ultimate
Read the full review: Princeton Review MCAT Ultimate Review
Princeton Review offers one of the best MCAT prep courses available with its flexibility and well-paced study plan. Its self-paced course is great for students who have busy schedules and need to work around a study plan. Princeton Review will also provide a classroom course for those requiring more classroom time for intensive study called MCAT Ultimate, which is, to date, their most popular MCAT prep course option among students.
The self-paced course provides up to five hundred hours of video lessons that you can access whenever you need it. There is no strict schedule and students are given the freedom to prioritize studying problem or just skip anything they already feel adequately prepared for. The self-paced course offers 14 practice tests that are comparable to what the AAMC tests in the actual MCATS. The self-paced package spans over a 270-day period (9 months).
Princeton Review gives students the chance to attend in-person or online classes with professional tutors. Similar to Next Step Prep, a diagnostic test is taken at the beginning of the course to let students know where their weaknesses lie. The classroom course is available in many states in the USA and offers 123 hours of live tutorials, 14 MCAT-style practice tests and over 500 video lessons you can access at your convenience. The course packages are highly varied and suited to a wide variety of study styles so you should be able to find something suited to you.
With Princeton Review, students have the option to request private tutors, an intensive Summer Class or even a CARS Accelerator course to improve critical analysis scores (which is a common problem area). With such flexibility to offer, it is little wonder why it is close to the top of nearly all Best MCAT prep course lists!
Wanting to take Princeton Review MCAT over the summer? We go in-depth on Princeton Review’s Summer MCAT Bootcamp.
This is the best MCAT prep course for: Students with tight schedules who seek options.
Read the full review: Examkrackers MCAT Review
Examkrackers has one of the most convenient MCAT prep courses thanks to how their classroom sessions are structured. The team is focused on preparing students for the MCAT exam through comprehensive live local or live online classes. Their comprehensive prep class is administered through a proven mixture of lecture, testing, and review. Emphasis is placed on how to think like the MCAT test itself, by building conceptual and interdisciplinary reasoning skills.
The comprehensive prep courses are refreshing, as less emphasis is placed on the “right” way to study and more emphasis is placed on actually improving your score and getting into medical school. Instructors at Examkrackers are trained to teach and flex students’ critical thinking skills and pre-med knowledge. To help stave off burnout, they utilize a more multi-dimensional approach with personalized instruction that helps to address your own strengths and weaknesses.
Let’s look at the Live In Person and Live Online Examkrackers MCAT prep options:
Live In Person:
2-four hour classes each week. Each class covers 2 subjects. (9-Week Class)
For each class, the Examkrackers Live In person class starts with a 50-minute lecture followed by a 10-minute break, keeping it easy to pay full attention. After the break, you will be tested on your understanding of the subject with a 30-minute exam. Once the exam is finished, there is a 25-minute review to help you understand any mistakes on the test so you don’t make them on the official MCAT. Because the classroom teachers spend more time explaining the concepts rather than just the context of the answers provided, students get a better understanding of the building blocks of the subjects rather than just memorization of facts.
4 two-hour classes each week. 4 subjects covered each week – Mon/Wed – Lecture, Tues/Thurs – Review (exams offline)
The Examkrackers Live Online classes are designed a little bit differently than the Live In Person classes, delivering instruction over two hours, with additional options for real-time instruction and feedback on weekends for an extra boost to your MCAT score. This is an awesome alternative for those who may not be able to access the Live In Person courses but still want to pursue an Examkrackers Live MCAT prep course. Plus, taking these live courses online do offer the advantage of not having to leave your own home for class.
The reality for some is that a 9-week course simply may not be enough time for some to feel adequately prepared for the MCAT. Which is why Examkrackers offers a “Pre Course for their Pre Course.” Their MCAT Extra Online option is an extended course for students who may have some glaring weak areas that they need to work on before diving deep into an MCAT course. The MCAT Extra plan is the most expensive, but includes the MCAT Comprehensive Review Course, nine classes that span three hours each and an instructor to explain practice questions in a small online setting. For specific improvement of problem areas, Examkrackers ranks as the best MCAT prep course.
Lastly, Examkrackers offers a CARS Intensive Online course that focuses specifically on the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section of the MCAT.
This is the best MCAT prep course for: Those who have specific areas of concentration they need to improve upon
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Kaplan Test Prep
Read the full review: Kaplan MCAT Course Review
Kaplan Test Prep has arguably one of the most comprehensive preparation package of all MCAT test prep courses, making it in our best MCAT prep course list. With the largest network of classroom sites nationwide (present in 43 states), you have the option to receive Kaplan’s low tier prep course online or in a classroom. Kaplan also provides the option of taking the entire prep course with a private instructor online or in a classroom.
For those looking for a more personalized approach, you can select the MCAT AdvantagePlus offering, which gives you access to everything Kaplan offers but also includes mentorship from a present medical student who will assist you in understanding the intricacies of the MCAT and how most medical school admissions are decided. All of Kaplan’s prep packages require a commitment of at least 15 hours of tutoring, which means it is not really as flexible as other MCAT prep courses. It also mandates you to pay for a full standard MCAT prep course before you can have access to their tutoring service. This is a turn off for most people that study better when there’s a tutor with them but works for those who would rather study unaided.
Kaplan Test Prep provides a range of 70 to 320 hours of instruction and gives you 11 full practice tests to get familiar with. You also have access to more than 11,000 quiz questions to practice with. Instruction can also be accessed in their classroom locations in most states. For those who cannot make the classes in-person, the live classes can be accessed online.
All of their courses, excluding the Self-Paced course, offers unlimited access to Kaplan’s premiere MCAT Channel, where you can access live streaming of MCAT prep 6-days-a-week. This channel covers critical information on the MCAT including subjects such as Organic chemistry, Biology, Physics, Biochemistry, Sociology, and Psychology. All of these episodes can be accessed either live or in the archive with nearly 15-20 hours of programming per week.
One of the key features of the Kaplan MCAT prep course is their Higher Score Guarantee, which will refund your tuition in full if you do not improve your scores from either your last official MCAT test or from your diagnostic test score taken at the beginning of the course. This insurance can be a huge relief for those who seem wary of the effectiveness of MCAT prep courses.
This is the best MCAT prep course for: Its unmatched classroom network and access to MCAT practice materials.
Gold Standard MCAT Prep
Read the full review: Gold Standard MCAT Review – A Little Something for Everyone
Fifth on our list for best MCAT prep course is Gold Standard. Gold Standard stands out in our list of best MCAT prep courses because it offers a cost-effective, self-paced prep that can be customized to your needs.
Gold Standard’s Home Study MCAT Courses come with 3 book-type options and 1 add-on. You can choose between receiving the complete book set by Kaplan, the Princeton Review, or Examkrackers. Once you choose this book set option, you then have the ability to tack on all Official AAMC materials for an additional $200. In addition to these commercial prep books, you will also receive the MCAT Practice Questions Book with 7 full-length MCAT practice tests.
In regards to online content, Gold Standard’s Home Study Course comes with 12-month access to its 8 ebooks, 30-hour science review video library, 5 MCAT CARS full-length tests, and a Medical School Interview Online Video.
Regardless of the course option you choose, you will gain access to their online student discussion groups where you can exchange tips and advice among your peers as well as ask any pressing questions regarding the test. One thing to be noted is that, due to its payment cancellation structure, Gold Standard does not offer a satisfaction guarantee. This is because the aim of their packages is to encourage self-study and there is no way to measure how effective the student is in following the guidelines and study materials. Their highest package, the Platinum Package Plus, comes with 3 sessions of private coaching (30 minutes each). With Gold Standard MCAT Prep, you are given fantastic materials and resources, but the responsibility to study effectively is all yours.
This is the best MCAT prep course for: Self-taught, bargain hunting students
Read the full review: Magoosh MCAT Review
The Magoosh MCAT prep course stands out in our list of best MCAT prep courses as one of the most cost-effective. Their entry level package is a one-month premium account that offers 300 video lessons that span all the sections available on the MCAT exam. It comes with 3 practice tests that include 9 extra CARS passages with over 700 practice questions. In addition, students can easily access test explanation materials for better understanding of the practice questions.
One popular feature that Magoosh offers is a 7-day Money Back satisfaction guarantee that lets you cancel at any time during the period without having to part with a single penny. Magoosh MCAT prep is fully online, meaning you can take your study anywhere and at anytime. There are no physical books or DVDs, requiring just an internet connection. Keeping with their online reputation, their website is mobile-optimized so that it can be accessed from any smart phone.
During our review, we found that Magoosh has a practice question difficulty level that is slightly harder than that of the AAMC practice MCAT questions. They offer a great mix of both passage-based and single questions that are well-explained and easy to understand. The difficulty level is a great touch as students prepare for tougher questions than they may actually see on the actual MCAT exam, making testing day that much easier.
Magoosh MCAT prep course is a favorite among students because of its amazing video catalogue that offers almost every topic and section on the MCAT in a simple and easy-to-understand format. Bonus features include resources such as flash cards and a glossary of common terms which you can use for refreshers during down time.
One major disadvantage we noticed of using the Magoosh MCAT test prep is the absence of any sort of live interaction with tutors or a teacher community for additional help. This makes the course more suited for students who prefer to study alone. We also believe that the amount of practice materials can be increased for those utilizing the lower tiers of Magoosh’s MCAT test prep course.
That said, if you can motivate yourself without the pressure of a teacher or peers, then this study course can offer you an extremely low price and adequate practice materials to supplement your personal reading schedule. For self-starters, you would do well to look at Magoosh as one of the most effective MCAT exam prep courses for you.
This is the best MCAT prep course for: Low-budget students that do not need a tutor or peers looking over their shoulders.
Read the full review: Altius MCAT Review
Founded by a former pre-med student who was unsatisfied with the commercial MCAT courses he had taken, Altius MCAT Prep makes our list of the best MCAT prep courses as it provides a full suite of services from classroom teaching to personal tutoring sessions as well as admission guidance services. The Silver course, which is the lowest tier of tutoring that Altius offers, gives you access to 32 hours in a live classroom environment, supplemented by 12 hours of private tutoring sessions. If you upgrade to the Platinum course package, there is an increase to 80 hours in-class and 42 hours of one-on-one tutoring and weekly review sessions. Altius Test Prep also offers an intensive summer study program comprised of over 400 classroom sessions, private tutor sessions and assistance during admission preparation over the course of 10 weeks.
When you first sign up for Altius, you will receive a no-obligation trial period of two weeks with the option of a full refund if discontented with the product. Altius is popular for their industry-best service guarantees that no other test prep company can come close to.
Altius also takes great pride in announcing their students’ test results, which have historically been ranked among the highest percentiles in the MCAT. Altius offers programs all over the nation in two specific formats: you can either attend online courses through MCAT Everywhere or you can participate in-person at a variety of select locations all over the nation. You can find Altius buildings in Portland, Oregon, Salt Lake City and Provo Utah, as well as Lawrence, Kansas and they also partner with several universities around the US.
Oftentimes, students relocate to these campuses for their 10-week course, and Altius is more than happy to help with providing housing during this time. The cost for this course is about half of what you will pay for comparable programs offered by Kaplan and Princeton Review. Overall, Altius can get you one step closer to being one of the highest scorers in the nation at the most competitive prices.
This is the best MCAT prep course for: Students who want guaranteed results and prefer a classroom study environment.
Read the full review: Khan Academy MCAT Review
Khan Academy is unique in our list of best MCAT prep courses as it is the only MCAT exam prep course where students can get all AAMC-standard practice questions and tutorial videos. Khan Academy, despite being a free model, offers over 2,500 practice questions and a thousand study videos that are AAMC-reviewed and certified.
The MCAT exam prep course has 14 areas that cover all the important parts of the MCAT test. For students who are not using tutors to prepare, Khan Academy is an excellent source of free quality test prep materials. There are also loads of explainer videos that come handy for a personal study plan.
Studying for the MCAT using Khan Academy gives students the opportunity to expand their study resources which they usually pay for with other courses. Because the Khan Academy prep course is already divided into several sections, you can focus on whatever area that you feel requires the most attention without having to sit through a rigid classroom system or course plan. The absence of a subscription of any sort is what sets Khan Academy apart among the best MCAT prep courses.
This is the best MCAT prep course for: Those who already have a study plan and need more practice materials or are budget-conscious.
No matter which of these MCAT prep courses you prefer, it’s important to realize that the best study course is one where you are able to identify, focus on, and strengthen your weak areas. The availability of so many test prep courses means that every student has something to fit both his or her schedule as well as budget requirements.
Did you know two-thirds of students take the MCAT over the summer? Here are some of the top MCAT summer bootcamps to consider.