As any med school hopeful is (perhaps painfully) aware, competition to get into a top school is fierce. An effective test prep course can help immensely. In this Kaplan vs Altius MCAT prep review, we’ll compare and contrast these two leaders in the industry.
Content Access Period
Hard Copy Books?
Money Back Guarantee?
4.6/5 Star Rating
3.1/5 Star Rating
Let’s kick things off with a brief overview of the pair of MCAT prep companies discussed here and the respective pros and cons of each.
Kaplan MCAT Prep
In terms of online presence and raw numbers of students served, Kaplan is the undisputed leader in test prep worldwide. In nearly a century of operation, Kaplan has built its reputation for no-nonsense test prep.
Kaplan’s MCAT course is the superior choice compared to Altius, for reasons that we’ll discuss here.
Kaplan currently has a 4.6/5 star rating on TrustPilot. Nearly 5,000 reviewers have weighed in, so Kaplan is heavily vetted.
For a more fulsome exploration of the features of Kaplan MCAT prep, check out our Kaplan MCAT review.
Altius MCAT Prep
Altius, founded in 2005, is one of the more unique MCAT prep companies out there. The calling card of the course is that it guarantees a score in the 90th percentile or they’ll keep working with you until you do.
However, despite a few outstanding features of Altius, we recommend Kaplan more highly for reasons we’ll explore here.
Altius currently has a subpar 3.1/5-star rating on Trustpilot, although the 27-review sample size is significantly smaller than Kaplan’s 4,000+.
To learn more about Altius MCAT prep, hop over to our more comprehensive Altius MCAT review.
Altius boasts studies-backed, proven MCAT results. Included in all their courses are AAMC materials and tests.
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- Studies-backed results
- High-quality practice tests
- Lifetime access to the online course
- Expensive course options
- Platform feels outdated
Kaplan vs Altius – Features Face to Face
Without further ado, let’s get right into the head-to-head matchup between Altius and Kaplan on a feature-by-feature basis.
Each company offers multiple course formats and packages, with a high variability in cost. The chart below features the most and least expensive course options from each company.
Least Expensive MCAT Course
$1,999 (self-paced online)
Most Expensive MCAT Course
$9,999 (intensive bootcamp)
Altius is one of the most expensive MCAT prep companies. Kaplan is also on the higher end, although its self-paced course is closer to the industry average in terms of cost.
Looking for a cheaper MCAT course? See our full list of the best MCAT prep courses, which includes budget-friendly options.
Practice Questions & Tests
Altius offers 4,500+ practice questions compared to Kaplan’s considerably fewer 2,900+. Kaplan offers 16 practice tests compared to Altius’ 14 (for most packages).
Altius places an emphasis on test-taking strategy rather than pure memorization, which is an aspect that many test prep companies overlook.
The general consensus, which I agree with based on personal experience with the materials, is that the Altius test questions are more realistic than Kaplan’s, which are notably more difficult than the real-life questions that you’ll encounter on the actual test.
The practice tests (as seen above) might be the one major area where Altius edges out Kaplan. The testing platform is highly interactive and easy to navigate. With all other course options above bronze, you get access to dozens of tests designed by admissions officers and PhD experts.
Altius practice exams are so popular that you can actually buy them separately apart from any course, which many preppers do.
All that said, Kaplan’s Qbank is nothing to sneeze at. The algorithm automatically adapts to your current skill level and identifies your points of weakness so that you get focused instruction in the areas that matter the most.
Kaplan MCAT practice test feels like the official MCAT
There is nothing wrong with the quantity or quality of the practice questions or practice tests, and in my opinion the advantage that Altius enjoys in this category does not override the other standout features that make Kaplan the superior option for MCAT prep.
Kaplan’s platform is smooth, intuitive, and well-designed. The company obviously devoted significant resources to its development. The only classrooms for the live instruction elements incorporate digital white blackboards that mimic the experience of a brick-and-mortar classroom.
A sleek study platform by Kaplan includes your schedule, lessons, Qbank, and performance all in one place
Altius’ online platform, called MCAT Everywhere, is less glossy but still legit. A major drawback for international preppers is that the platform is currently only available to students located in the US or Canada.
Tutoring & Student Support
Altius heavily emphasizes its 1:1 tutoring services. All Altius courses save for one come with a complementary private mentor to guide you through your studies.
The premium you pay for Altius is largely driven by the quality of the tutors, who are required to have scored in the 98th percentile of the MCAT to qualify.
Kaplan also offers an option for tutoring through its Private Tutoring + Live Online Course. The rest of Kaplan’s live courses feature small class sizes but no 1:1 option.
With Kaplan tutoring, you can choose 10, 20, 30, or 40 hours of private tutoring with an MCAT expert.
Both courses have staff, instructors, and tutors that are highly responsive to student inquiries, whether technical or academic in nature.
Altius, for its Gold, Silver, and Platinum courses, guarantees that you’ll either score within the 90th percentile on the actual MCAT or that you’ll boost your baseline score by a minimum of 12 points, as compared to a previously taken actual MCAT or a practice test. See more in their Our Promise page.
Kaplan offers a Higher Score Guarantee for most of its test prep courses, including the MCAT ones. There is no specific score guarantee; rather, the promise is that you’ll score better on your MCAT than you did either on a diagnostic test at the start of the course or on a previous real-life MCAT attempt.
Altius offers one physical book as part of its courses. Kaplan offers its series of 7 complete prep books as part of its MCAT Complete 7-Book Subject Review.
An updated 7-book set that includes one year of online access to 3 full-length practice tests, selected instructional videos, practice questions, and quizzes.
- Can be used as your main content source
- Updated annually, so you don't need to worry about outdated content
- Chapter summaries and concept checks help to reinforce what you've learned
- Online portal has additional practice
- The CARS book feels light and we suggest swapping it for the AAMC CARS question pack
If high-quality physical textbooks are important to you, Kaplan is your clear winner.
Kaplan vs Altius – Standout Features
Let’s run down a couple of standout features from each course.
It’s always nice, if you’re on the fence, to take advantage of any free trial offers before you make a final decision.
Kaplan stipulates the following policy for refunds for all live online and self-paced MCAT courses, as outlined in its refund policy: “Within 3 days of your purchase date: 100% of program tuition is refundable”
So you effectively have three days if you purchase the program to try it out and see if it’s going to be right for you.
Altius lets you test-drive their highly-reviewed practice exams with a freebie. Also, you have 14 days from the start of your course to opt for a full refund.
Love freebies? Start with these 12 Free MCAT Practice Tests.
Kaplan has several ways to get in touch if you ever encounter any issues: by phone at 1-800-527-8378, by social media, or via their live chat feature.
Altius also has a live chat feature as well as a hotline — (435) 671-5783 – and an email address (email@example.com).
Both are highly and equally responsive, so it’s a wash in this category.
Kaplan vs Altius: The Bottom Line
In summary, let’s run down the reasons to consider the respective programs, Kaplan or Altius.
Use Kaplan MCAT course if:
- You’re more interested in an on-demand course (more and higher-quality on-demand material)
- You want a larger selection of questions
- Video quality is important
- You enjoy having physical textbooks
Use Altius MCAT course if:
- You’re interested in 1:1 tutoring
- You require a specific score guarantee (90th percentile or 12-point increase)
- You want more realistic practice tests
- You want extremely small online classes (maximum of 8)
Our Overall Recommendation: Kaplan MCAT
Kaplan, for the reasons we’ve enumerated here – specifically the excellent practice questions and superior on-demand course – stacks up favorably against Altius. We generally recommend Kaplan for MCAT prep for most students, although in certain circumstances (like if you need a tutor) Altius might better meet your needs.
Altius vs Kaplan MCAT FAQs
Now let’s do a quick rundown of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding Kaplan vs Altius MCAT.
Are Altius exams harder than the MCAT?
No. Altius exams are much more realistic than Kaplan’s and closely reflect the difficulty level of the actual test.
Do both Altius and MCAT offer a high score guarantee?
Yes, but each score guarantee comes with slightly different details and caveats to consider.
How long do I need to study for the MCAT?
The average test prep schedule usually includes 200-300 hours of study spaced out over 8-12 weeks.