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Best MCAT Prep Courses
Our in-depth guide to the best MCAT prep courses and classes available online
The MCAT is a difficult and high-stakes exam with little room for error. And for many aspiring med school students, your MCAT score will make or break your application, which in turn makes the selection of the right prep course a pivotal decision at the start of your journey to becoming a doctor. To help you make the most informed decision possible, we have reviewed more than a dozen different MCAT prep courses and compiled the best ones here, each with a detailed analysis and explanation.
To quickly navigate through this comprehensive guide of the best MCAT prep courses, simply use the helpful jump-to links above.
Our Video Guide To The Best MCAT Prep Courses
In the video above, John from the Test Prep Insight team provides an overview of the best MCAT prep courses on our list. If you would like additional detail regarding any of the courses discussed, be sure to keep reading below or check out our full reviews of each.
Why Blueprint Is The Best Overall MCAT Prep Course
It was clear from the moment we first logged in to the Blueprint MCAT course that they would not only be on our best MCAT prep courses list, but also right near the top of it. Though Blueprint offers both a self-paced online format and a course with live classes, it’s their online materials that truly blew us away.
At the heart of this course is their suite of interactive and highly effective video-based lessons. They are simply magical for visual learners. 😲 Then surrounding these video lessons, Blueprint provides a comprehensive curriculum through a series of 160+ learning modules, which are intelligently designed to reinforce the material.
In addition, Blueprint offers a very respectable amount of high-quality practice material, including 4,000+ questions through its QBank, 15 full-length practice tests and all available AAMC practice materials.
They also toss in a ton of great study resources to boot. All of these study resources and materials together make for an extremely robust prep package.
Crazy Good Video Lessons
As referenced above, Blueprint’s interactive and highly engaging video-based instruction is their bread and butter. They have a knack for making videos that are not only visually stunning, but also convey material in a manner that makes learning easy and improves retention.
Each video lesson features a Blueprint instructor in front of a green screen, and as they talk, text, graphics and animations appear around them.
The text portion of the lesson is frequently supplemented with catchy graphics and helpful animations. In fact, many of the complex chemical processes and physical systems described in the lesson are illustrated onscreen right next to the instructor.
Visualizing these complex subjects greatly improves material comprehension and later recall. And perhaps most importantly, it just makes the learning experience more fun. Test prep can be a grind at times with dry material and dense textbooks, but these video lessons provide a much-needed break from that.
Smart Integrated Learning Modules
Blueprint’s curriculum is intelligently structured into bite-sized learning modules. These learning modules each consist of a series of video lessons, quizzes, passages and assessments.
These individual components within the unit together provide for an integrated learning experience and allow you to see and understand the same material from multiple perspectives.
This serves to reinforce the subject matter and improve content retention. In other words, spending an extended period on one subtopic watching lessons, doing drills and taking quizzes really hammers the material home.
All in, there are 160+ learning modules covering content review and 30+ more covering reasoning skills, test strategies and other soft skills.
For decades, thousands of future med school students have relied on Kaplan to prepare them for the MCAT. Why? It’s pretty simple, really. They have a proven track record of success.
Kaplan’s MCAT curriculum has been meticulously crafted by their in-house MCAT experts and refined over the years to give you one of the most robust, yet efficient, sets of lessons and coursework out there.
Their online classes just plain get results. While they may not lead any particular category in terms of total quantity of features and practice materials (such as practice questions, practice exams, or live instruction hours), they just do everything across the board very, very well.
When you consider all of the factors that truly matter in designing an MCAT prep course, Kaplan hits every category. It’s clear their decades of experience in teaching to the MCAT ahs allowed them to fine tune their course. Plus, some recent update to class scheduling and video lessons has really jumped them up our list. Bottom line, Kaplan just provides a really solid all-around MCAT prep course that gets the job done.
Fantastic Live Classes
If Blueprint’s specialty is video lessons, Kaplan’s is live instruction. Following an update to their live class design this past year, Kaplan now has some of the best live classes in MCAT prep in our team’s opinion.
For one thing, the new flex schedule is awesome. This allows students to pick and choose which classes to attend during each week, providing tons of flexibility to move around your schedule based on study blocks which we found to be very useful.
Secondly, the tag team approach Kaplan employs with dual instructors really works. One teacher handles the primary instruction while the the other works the chat function, allowing the class to continue fluidly while still giving people a chance to get their questions answered.
Lastly (and most importantly), Kaplan’s MCAT instructors are just plain good. They are perhaps the most experienced and knowledgeable instructors we’ve come across, and we were super impressed as a team.
In short, if you’re looking for live MCAT classes, it’s hard to do much better than Kaplan.
Stellar Video Lessons
At the center of its on demand course instruction, and as a critical supplement to its live classes, Kaplan provides some top-notch video-based lessons that have been greatly improved over the last 2-3 years. Though not quite as good as Blueprint MCAT’s (which are truly superb), they are a close second.
The production value of these videos is fantastic, with a sharp picture and modern digital whiteboard. For visual learners, these are a major value add, especially at just 10-15 minutes each.
Each video lesson is based around a digital whiteboard, where your instructor stands in front of a green screen and delivers their lecture. As the instructor speaks, text, formulas, graphics, and animations fill the screen.
This is not some old school PowerPoint video – it is a high-quality production that keeps you engaged as you cut through the dense material. All together there are more than 130 of these content review videos, each adding tremendous value to the instruction component of Kaplan’s course.
Customizable Question Sets through the Qbank
One of the primary features of the Kaplan practice work is its adaptive Qbank. This study resource gives you access to over 3,000 high-quality practice problems with advanced filtering functionality.
The Qbank allows you to customize practice sets by subject, question type, difficulty and more. Not only that, the questions adapt to your skill level and performance as you work through the problems.
This allows you to zero in on your weak spots that need improvement and simultaneously ratchet up the difficulty as you improve. And following each practice problem set you get a detailed score report that provides some nice analytics around your performance. Together with the Qbank, it makes your practice more efficient and effective.
Princeton Review has been prepping students for the MCAT for years with great success. They have one of the most comprehensive and detailed curriculums we have seen, which is delivered through some solid prep books and classroom time.
With 40 live class hours (live online or in-person), Princeton Review offers some of the better live instruction in the space. Between the specialist instructors and balanced lesson plans, the classes are well executed.
In addition, you get access to 500+ detailed video lessons which cover and reinforce the same material. When combined with 16 full-length tests, 2,500+ practice problems and a set of content-rich prep books, there will never be a shortage of prep work. And it’s not just the quantity of Princeton Review’s coursework that impresses, the quality is also very good.
Solid Live MCAT Instruction
As mentioned, Princeton Review boasts an impressive 40 live class hours. That is a very respectable quantity of class time, and we loved the structure of Princeton’s live classes.
Rather than being led by a generalist MCAT expert, your lessons are guided by a rotating team of subject matter experts. In total, you will get 4 to 6 expert instructors teaching your class sessions, depending on their area of expertise.
This is a huge value add, as you get that extra bit of content depth with a subject matter expert as compared to a generalist. This improves the overall instruction and learning experience. If a quality live class is what you’re after, Princeton Review rates out as our best course for live instruction.
Awesome MCAT Prep Books
In addition to some great live instruction, Princeton Review also boasts some of the best hard copy prep books on the market. When you purchase a Princeton Review MCAT prep course, they will ship you a box set of 11 prep books. Yes, count that, 11.
Of these 11 books, 7 cover subject specific content review across the MCAT subjects of biology, general chemistry, biochemistry, organic chemistry, physics and math, psychology and sociology, and CARS.
The other 4 books consist of various course-based workbooks. These books are incredibly detailed, well-written and contain some great graphics. As a supplement to the main course, they are an extremely valuable resource.
There is no hiding why we place Magoosh on our list of best MCAT prep courses. They are a pure and simple high-value, bang for your buck prep course designed to keep costs down. If you’re rolling on a tight budget, or maybe just need limited review and practice materials to ready yourself for the exam, Magoosh will be your best bet.
They have a great curriculum for the price and give you a bounty of study resources, including 380+ video lessons, 740+ practice problems and 3 full-length practice tests. I know those numbers are nothing to write home about, but the quality of these materials is actually quite good.
The video lessons, while dry and lacking in any real production value, effectively and efficiently communicate more than 380 scientific subtopics covered on the MCAT. They are not that engaging and are housed in a bulk library, but that is a lot of prep for your money. All in all, it wouldn’t be a best list without one high value course.
Course Highlight: Incredible Value
Continuing from above (and at the risk of beating a dead horse), the biggest highlight of this course is not its video lessons, or practice problem explanations, or cool dashboard. It is its incredible value. Pure and simple.
At a total cost of roughly $400, this course is a true bargain. That $400 is not a monthly subscription rate like you see with other courses – that is the one-time, all-in cost.
This makes the Magoosh course roughly 1/5th the cost of other prep courses in the MCAT space. But you don’t get just 1/5th the study materials with Magoosh. Calculating the cost per question and test, this prep offering has great worth.
And this especially holds true if you adjust for the total number of video lessons. The bottom line is that this course price point is more than affordable, it’s a downright steal.
Customized MCAT Practice Sessions
Despite the low price, you still get some first-rate features that the other more expensive test prep players offer, such as a customizable practice session tool. This feature allows you to create personalized practice question sets through Magoosh’s advanced filters.
You can narrow the practice problem set by MCAT subject, question type, difficulty and more. This is a very useful function that allows you to create targeted quizzes to focus on areas needing improvement.
In my opinion, Prep101 is one of the most intensive and comprehensive MCAT prep courses I have reviewed to date. Blueprint is a fantastic course for their video lessons, and Princeton Review has stellar live classes, but Prep101 wins on their rigorous study framework. This is why they land near the top of our list of best MCAT prep courses.
Prep101 delivers everything the other guys do, including live classes, on-demand supplemental video lessons, assigned readings, practice sets, and practice exams, but it’s the course structure that got us. Prep101 uses a highly effective framework of pre-class, class, and post-class work that all overlap during the week with other units.
Thus, on any given day you might be working on pre-reading for one subject, attend class for another subject, and then do review work from the class before. It’s intensive and very rigorous, but dang does it work.
This course is definitely not for the faint of heart, but if you’re committed to getting a top tier MCAT score, that requires serious time and dedication, and you’re going to be hard pressed to find a more comprehensive package than Prep101.
Flexible Class Schedule
Though this course is highly intensive (as noted above), one thing that mitigates the rigor is the fact that Prep101 uses a flexible live class format. In short, they offer four versions of the same class each day – one in each of the morning, afternoon, evening, and night.
As such, you can attend whichever class makes the most sense for you based on your daily schedule.
While this doesn’t alter your overall workload, this level of flexibility makes your day-to-day studying much more manageable. Again, it’s still intense, but this flex schedule is awesome and makes the workloads doable.
Live Class Format & Structure
Besides the flexibility, the value in the structure of the live classes cannot be overstated. I personally love this classic framework of assigned reading and practice questions, followed by live classes with lecture and guided practice work, then assigned homework post-class.
It’s a classic and effective teaching method, and you’re probably already used to it to some degree from college. Not to mention, when you spread the workloads over multiple days as Prep101 suggests, it definitely levels up your retention.
Altius differentiates itself from its MCAT prep competitors by offering about the immersive MCAT prep experience possible. Rather than focusing on more traditional on demand video lessons, Altius is built around intensive 1-on-1 sessions with an MCAT mentor, as well as small group classes.
Their belief is that by giving students a more personalized and guided approach to prepping for the MCAT, students will be better prepared for exam day as compared to studying alone with a bundle of materials.
And despite only being around for a few years now, the results have so far proven Altius right. With an average student MCAT score of 516, Altius has about the best performance statistics among all MCAT prep providers.
In fact, Altius is so confident in their method that they even guarantee a 90th percentile score for the majority of their prep packages.
These promises of 90th percentile scores and intensive, small group sessions are awesome, but do come at a price, with Altius having some of the highest course prices in MCAT prep. But assuming cost isn’t an issue, Altius is one of the best options on the market to get a top tier MCAT score.
Key to Success: 1-on-1 Mentoring
As mentioned, the basis of every Altius prep package is a series of meetings with a dedicated mentor. Altius specifically labels this person a “mentor” and not a “tutor,” as they train their mentors to offer much more than simply answering questions.
The Altius mentors set a roadmap for your studies, help you assess your weak spots, answer content questions, review practice exams with you, and much more. Think of them more as a Sherpa on your journey up the mountain to a solid MCAT score, guiding the way.
That may sound corny, but it’s true. Our team members that reviewed this course loved the Altius process and were crazy about the level of support they got. Altius’ guidance in this respect is simply unparalleled in the MCAT prep space.
Depending on which package you go with, you’ll generally get either 15, 25 or 45 hours of dedicated 1-on-1 time with your mentor. In our team’s collective opinion, even just 25 hours of 1-on-1 time with an Altius mentor is worth more than 100 hours of on demand video lectures from other MCAT prep companies.
Small Group Sessions
The other half of the Altius prep system is built around small, group-based learning sessions. These study halls will generally serve as the basis of your content review and strategy building, with your 1-on-1 mentor meetings serving to reinforce these group meetings with a more personal touch.
These group sessions are led by one to two Altius experts (depending on the day) and generally integrate content reviews, working problems as a group, and reviewing practice problem sets.
These sessions dive deep into the details, and you consistently find yourself learning something new each session with how deep the meetings go. You meet via Zoom, and these sessions are capped at just 6-8 students.
This gives the meetings a much more intimate feeling than other group-based live online classes, and you get to know your classmates pretty well. In total, you’ll get somewhere between 120 and 200 hours of these live online group learning sessions, again depending on which package you sign up for.
Our team found these review classes to be highly effective (just as much so as the mentoring sessions) and one of the key highlights of the Altius MCAT course.
The Medical College Admission Test, or MCAT, is the standardized exam utilized by almost every major school in the U.S. and Canada in its medical school admission process.
The MCAT is administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges, or AAMC, and is designed to assess skills that are crucial to success in medical school, including problem solving, critical thinking, and knowledge of natural, behavioral, and social science concepts and principles.
As a note, when applying to med school, your MCAT must be recent – most schools will not accept MCAT exam scores that are more than three years old.
MCAT Test Structure
The MCAT is a computer-based, multiple-choice exam which takes a whopping seven-and-a-half hours to complete. Since 2015, following a revamp of the exam by the AAMC, the MCAT is comprised of four sections: Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems; Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS); Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems; and Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior. The Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems section is comprised of 44 passage-related questions and 15 standalone, non-passage-related questions, for a total of 59 questions, which the test taker is allocated 95 minutes to complete. This section tests a student’s physical sciences knowledge in the context of biological sciences, and wraps in a fair amount of biochemistry. Breaking down the Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems section by undergraduate course, the section tests General Chemistry (30%), Physics (25%), Organic Chemistry (15%), Biochemistry (25%), and Introductory Biology (5%) is also included in this section of the test.
The Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS) section of the MCAT consists of 53 passage-related questions, which the student is given 90 minutes to complete. The CARS section does not require any prior information or substantive knowledge, as all information necessary to answer the questions is included in the exam. This section is designed to test the student’s ability to analyze arguments, synthesize passages, and identify underlying assumptions and inferences.
The Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems section, mirroring the Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems section in structure, consists of 44 passage-related questions and 15 standalone, non-passage-related questions, for a total of 59 questions, for which the student is given 95 minutes to complete. While this section is true to its name and examines the test taker’s knowledge of biology and biochemistry, this section additionally contains questions based in organic chemistry and general chemistry, as those principles wrap into the biochemistry aspect. The undergraduate courses that are incorporated into and tested in the Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems section include Biology (65%), Biochemistry (25%), General Chemistry (5%), and Organic Chemistry (5%).
The Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior section once again is comprised of 44 passage-related questions and 15 standalone, non-passage-related questions, totaling 59 questions, which the student is given 95 minutes to complete. This (somewhat) newly added section tests the concepts of Psychology and Sociology as they relate to biological sciences. While some pre-med students will have not taken Psychology and Sociology, as they are generally not required prerequisite courses to medical school admission, having done a semester in one or both of these areas will help. This section tests a student’s ability to analyze and apply psychological, sociological, and biological principles in the context of behaviors and relationships.
When and Where Can I Take the MCAT?
The MCAT is offered roughly 25 times per year at test centers around the globe. Students have a number of options to choose from in regards to dates and locations, as the exam is administered between the months of January and September yearly. To see scheduling deadlines, test dates and locations, and to register for the MCAT, visit the AAMC website here. MCAT exam scores are typically released approximately one month after the exam is taken and can be viewed online. We recommend you register early, as test centers and preferred dates tend to fill up quickly.
Preparing for the MCAT
We recommend studying for at least three to six months before actually sitting for the exam. Obviously, that study time frame will change depending on your commitments and schedule, but be prepared for a long haul. You cannot procrastinate in studying for the MCAT and expect to score well – no matter how smart you are.
The MCAT is one of those tests where you must know how to excel, not just the substantive material. Thus, you must study early and often.
Unlike some graduate school entrance exams that do not test much, if any, substantive knowledge, the MCAT will test your knowledge on a range of scientific and social concepts and their application to varying scenarios. There is lots to pack in before the big day, so here are our key strategies for studying for the MCAT:
Create a study plan and timeline. Do not go into your MCAT preparation without a plan or direction. Create an actionable timeline of when to hit certain targets, how often and when you will take full length practice tests, and generally plan out your attack so you are ready when the big day arrives. Having a game plan is critical.
Practice questions and tests. Do not spend all of your time with your nose buried in a book or flashcards memorizing facts and formulas. The MCAT tests your ability to think critically and apply substantive scientific knowledge to unique scenarios. Hammering practice problems is by far the best way to prepare yourself for the actual exam. But don’t stop at just practice questions—do a number of full-length tests under real exam conditions. You want to condition your mind and body for the real thing so that you’re not caught off guard on the day of the exam. Make sure to incorporate a number of full-length tests into your study plan.
Focus on improving your weaknesses. As much as we hate to admit it, we all have weaknesses. As you work through memorizing material and doing practice questions, you will be sure to notice where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Whatever your weaknesses are, reallocate study time from your strengths to your weaknesses. If you’re crushing biology-based questions and struggling with biochemistry, no need to keep spending so much time on the biology. Focus in on that biochemistry and make it a strength!
Quality not quantity. Do not worry about hitting quantitative targets in terms of memorization or practice questions. This will only rush your learning process and can possibly cause a false sense of security. Instead, focus your energy on quality of study. Concentrate on knowledge retention (read a flashcard or passage multiple times if you need to) and learning from your mistakes (make sure to understand why you got a question wrong). In other words, take your time.
Ensure readiness. If you don’t feel ready as the big day gets close, push the exam out. The MCAT is offered roughly 25 times per year and there’s no need to rush in to it if you’re not mentally prepared—you will only be setting yourself up for failure. You want to feel confident and prepared before the big day so that you can go in there and rock it.
Do I need a MCAT prep course?
Given the high stakes nature of the MCAT, it is strongly advised that you purchase and take a MCAT prep course. The vast majority of students will need the content review and actionable strategies offered by the various MCAT prep providers.
How much does a MCAT prep course cost?
MCAT prep courses range widely in price, from $30/month for budget subscription courses, up to $5,000+ for comprehensive packages with tutoring. That said, most students end up taking a course somewhere in the $2,000 to $3,000 range.
Will a MCAT prep course raise my score?
The short answer – very likely yes. Compared to self-studying with free resources, or not studying at all, a MCAT prep course is very likely to improve your score. You will get access to content review, practice materials and helpful resources, all designed to boost your MCAT score.