If you’ve spent time on Reddit or popular MCAT forums, you may have run across Prep101 in your research. Prep101’s MCAT courses offer more classroom instruction than any other MCAT course on the market today – these courses span from in person, live online, or on demand.
So, is this MCAT prep course right for you? Read this in-depth Prep101 review to find out my thoughts on who would and would not benefit from this course.
All About Prep101 MCAT
Boasting a 4.6 review on Trustpilot and a 4.5 on Google Reviews, Prep101 has a pretty good standing among its over 500,000 alumni around the world. Currently, they have online course offerings for those in the US and online or in person classroom courses available in a handful of Canadian cities.
My Thoughts on the Prep101 MCAT Course
As I worked my way through the online Prep101 course, I made notes regarding its class content, study plan, instructors, usability, and more. Read on to see the good and the not-so-good findings of the Prep101 course:
Class Content & Videos
At 138 hours of live instruction (more than any other MCAT course on the market, including The Princeton Review), you can rest assured that you’re going to get quality face-to-face time with your vetted instructor.
The Prep101 review course is divided up into 44 lessons, each of which utilizes an effective 3-phase approach:
- Before Class: To prepare for class, you will read the assigned chapter and work through 24 practice questions in your Examkrackers study guide to get primed for the lesson and its contents.
- During Class: For your 4-hour session together, your instructor will lead a review using the Classroom Companion, followed by an in-class exam (ICE) of 6-8 passages and in-depth exam review.
- After Class: Reinforce what you learned in class with a practice set covering the same topic – consists of 5 to 10 passages using the AAMC Question Pack or Section Bank.
- *Optional After Class Work: If you’re a glutton for punishment, you can also take on the optional after class practice sets provided in your Student Portal. There is a practice set for each class in the science subjects.
Here’s an example of a Physics online class for week 3. Here you can see structure of the class with tis Before-Class Readings, In-Class Work, and After-Class Homework.
I’m a big fan of the flipped classroom approach, as it gives you a chance to warm up to the material you’ll be learning as well as apply strategies live, in class, to be reviewed and reinforced within the same lesson! Each of the sessions is taught over Zoom by one of their specialized instructors for that topic. This means you’ll have different instructors depending on the topic.
As you can see here for their Vancouver UBC campus, there are a full suite of instructors for each subject.
Overall, due to the sheer amount of content that you’ll be reviewing for the MCAT, this flipped classroom approach is one of the surest ways to learn and retain content.
MCAT Prep Books & Study Guides
Their courses come with 6 Examkrackers study guides, 6 Prep101 Classroom Companions, and 1 Examkrackers CARS Workbook. All these books are included in their course price and are mailed to your home once you’ve paid for your course. See more MCAT prep book options.
Intensive CARS Workshops
With the increase in attention paid to CARS in med school admissions, it’s nice to know that Prep101 has its own intensive CARS workshops. Unique to Prep101, they have 12 workshops devoted to guided practice and learning.
Here is an example of a CARS workshop for an online class. This is the second workshop for this online classroom and you can see the 4-hour class structure includes before class reading and after-class homework.
Recorded Classes, Annotation, & Videos
Classes are recorded and also annotated after each class and can be found in your MedReels folder in your Student Portal.
Class recordings are great if you happened to miss a class (on a fixed schedule) or simply could not make your fourth class during the week.
What makes the annotation of classes so awesome is that, rather than being stressed to take notes while in the class, you can simply download the set of notes for review after the lesson.
Along with class records and annotations, you can also find 444 on demand videos covering the lessons in your classroom companion as well as 166 videos of instructors walking through solutions to the official AAMC Question Packs and Section Bank.
Optional practice and videos can be found in the Student Portal
Study Plan and Personal MCAT Coach
The standard fixed and flexible online class is an 11-week course. From the get-go, each student will have a customized MCAT study plan created by their personal MCAT coach. The MCAT coach takes into consideration certain factors, such as your science background, any past MCAT scores, as well as your schedule when designing your personal study plan.
You’ll receive day-to-day practice and a study schedule for when you are not in class and for the weeks leading up to your MCAT. Each personalized study plan has a 3-step cycle after the course wraps up and before you walk into your MCAT test:
- Simulated full length practice test
- Review of the practice test
- Deliberate practice to fill knowledge gaps and errors
Let’s have a look at an example MCAT study plan for a Prep101 student with a strong Science background:
If you’re wondering what a typical week looks like, here’s a sample for a student’s first week with the Prep101 course:
Prep101 vets instructors through their “auditioning” program. Potential instructors must teach a mock lesson to a class full of MCAT prep students and panelists in order to vet these instructors on their ability to make the MCAT learnable, digestible, and fun.
After hiring instructors, Prep101 continues to train its instructors so that they are up-to-date with the MCAT coursework and methodology.
MCAT Practice Tests and Question Explanations
Prep101 offers more full length practice tests than other MCAT prep courses. Their practice exams come with data-driven analytics to target only weak topics, reasoning skills, or question types.
Of the 20 full length, computerized practice tests, you’ll work through 10 Altius tests (See our Altius MCAT Review), 5 AAMC practice tests, and 5 Examkrackers tests (Learn more about Examkrackers here).
These MCAT practice tests are taken throughout various intervals of this 11-week course – generally specified by your MCAT coach in your study plan.
Score reports after taking your practice test track performance by section, content category, question type, reasoning skill, topic, and even subtopic. Using this feedback, you can then filter the next practice test to target only the weak areas presented.
When you get started, you’ll be given the email address of your instructor for questions during the course. Prep101 recommends, however, to post specific questions from class or on practice questions to be posted in the Student Forum.
When you start a class cohort, all the students and instructors will have access to a Student Forum. By posting your questions to the Student Forum, other students get the benefit of seeing your question as well as the answer provided by the instructor.
Pricing & Refunds
Overall, the refund policy for Prep101 is not great, but that can be said of pretty much any MCAT prep course outside of a “higher score guarantee.”
If you decide you do not want this course at least 2 weeks before your course starts, then you can receive a 100% course refund.
If you decide you want a refund with less than 2 weeks before your course starts, then Prep101 will hang onto your $100 deposit and refund the rest.*
*You can receive a full refund if the class is full.
Unfortunately, if classes have already started and you decide you do not like your course, then you are out of luck.
Unlimited Free Repeat Policy
With no strings attached*, you can take the Prep101 course as many times as you’d like. This may sound like an odd benefit to boast, but they encourage students to take their MCAT course in the summer after your first year to get comfortable with the MCAT and to get a head start on material covered in your second year courses.
You can then return to your Prep101 course and study the summer after your second year, followed by the MCAT. See why we recommend taking the MCAT the summer after your second year.
*Note, it is recommended to at least purchase any new course materials (such as MCAT book sets) if they have been updated since you last studied. You can find the list of book updates in their FAQ or pay Prep101 directly for new, updated prep materials.
I appreciate the payment policy offered by Prep101 that allows for you to “reserve” your spot for a course with just $100. Other courses, such as Princeton Review, allow you to use their courses early, but still require the full amount upfront.
You won’t receive your book set until they receive the full course payment, however.
Who Needs This Course
This is a great course option for students who need to fill knowledge gaps and thrive in classroom-style learning. With 138 hours of live online classroom instruction, you will not want for additional face-to-face time with instructors.
If you are willing to put in the amount of work requested of you in this course, then you will surely see some gains in your MCAT score.
Prep101 Review Course Options
Live Online Flex
Summary: Each live online class is offered four times weekly and you can pick whichever option works best for you. This allows you to choose from weekday mornings, afternoons, evenings, or nights.
Live Online Fixed
Summary: Each live online class is offered once per day
Price: $2595 CAD
Summary: Each live class is offered two times weekly and you can pick whichever option works best for you
Summary: To be launched 2023
Prep101 Reviews from REAL Students
In case you’re looking for more than just my humble opinion on Prep101, here are a couple of student reviews we found across various platforms including Reddit and Facebook:
Here’s a query posted in r/premedcanada asking about experiences with Prep101. This student gives credit to his instructor being able to help students score a 128 in Bio. He still highlights the exorbitant cost of the course, however, and who he thinks that price may be worth it for.
Here’s a review posted on Trustpilot that praises instructor Mike for helping break down tough MCAT concepts in class.
Prep101 MCAT Alternatives
Perhaps you made it through this Prep101 review and still want to know what else is out there. As with all of our MCAT prep reviews, we like to provide a list of alternatives that we suggest, depending on your needs:
Coming in with a similarly high amount of in classroom hours with your instructor, you really can’t go wrong with a Princeton Review MCAT course if you are seeking a higher score.
I’d suggest the Princeton Review over Prep101 if you’re after a 513+ and would like a score guarantee. That is what you get with their 513+ course (you must already be scoring at least a 500 for this course). Princeton Review’s 513+ course is around the same price as Prep101 and can be taken live online or in person (if you’re lucky enough to be living in the Southern California area).
One of the highest-rated MCAT prep courses that offers on-demand and live-online MCAT prep as well as high score guarantees.
- Subject-specific diagnostic exams pinpoint strengths & weaknesses
- Personalized homework is assigned after every lecture
- Up-to-date MCAT Complete 9-book set is included
- 16 full-length practice tests simulate the format and time restraints of real MCAT
- Access to all AAMC material
- No more in-person class options
- 513+ or 515+ score guarantee course is extra
With Blueprint, you are getting considerably fewer live online classroom hours with your instructor (40 hours versus the 138 hours with Prep101). If you anticipate having a lot of questions or want more face-to-face time with your instructor, Blueprint is not going to be the right course for you.
If, however, you are looking for a more on-demand learning experience with a great, user-friendly platform and easy drag-and-drop study dashboard, then Blueprint may be a better course option for you.
A top-tier MCAT prep program that allows for custom study plans and analytics for targeting weaknesses.
- Generous unlimited 2-hour Live-Online Office Hours outside of class
- New mobile-friendly format
- Can test out of content you already know
- Day-by-day study plan tool with simple drag-and-drop feature
- Superb 6-book series called MCAT Review Book
- Lack of student reviews who have taken this course
- It’s expensive for an on demand course
Altius boasts the highest-scoring students and is known for its high-quality MCAT practice tests (Prep101 uses some of their full-length practice tests in their own course).
The Altius courses are known to be more overbearing in the sheer amount of content covered as well as the lack of flexibility with your schedule. For students who are truly prioritizing MCAT prep over other activities (perhaps full-time over the summer), then Altius can be a great course to truly dedicate your time and energy towards raising your MCAT score.
Altius boasts studies-backed, proven MCAT results. Included in all their courses are AAMC materials and tests.
Get $800 OFF mentoring programs with promo code: NERDS800
- Studies-backed results
- High-quality practice tests
- Lifetime access to the online course
- Expensive course options
- Platform feels outdated
Read who else made our list of the best MCAT prep courses for 2023.
Prep101 Review FAQ
Are there discounts for this course?
There is a cap at one discount per student per course. For those who are eligible for multiple discounts, you will be awarded the discount of highest value.
How long does the Prep101 course take?
The online fixed or flexible course is an 11-week MCAT study schedule.
How long do I need to study for the MCAT?
It’s estimated that most students should study between 200-300 hours for the MCAT. This can be accomplished in 3-4 months if you plan on studying around 15 to 20 hours per week.
Is the Prep101 MCAT course worth it?
For students seeking a live online class with extra emphasis on CARS, this can be a great (albeit expensive) investment to improving your MCAT score.
Is Prep101 harder than the MCAT?
Most of the Prep101 review material is close in difficulty to the real MCAT. Because they utilize AAMC official material and other high-quality practice tests from Altius and Examkrackers, you can expect difficulty close to or slightly more difficult than test day.
Prep101 Review – Wrap Up
If you’re seeking out an MCAT prep course that gives you tons of face-time with instructors and will push you to commit a large amount of time and energy into your studying, then this is likely a good course for you. With comprehensive review, those who are weak in subjects or with knowledge gaps will probably get a lot of benefit from Prep101.
Comprehensive MCAT course boasting the most hours of face-to-face instruction with MCAT experts.
- 138 hours live online instruction
- Free unlimited course repeats
- All AAMC official material & practice tests
- Strict refund policy