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Altius vs Kaplan MCAT
After a full review of each course, our expert team weighs in on how the Kaplan MCAT vs Altius prep courses stack up
When making the critical decision of which MCAT prep company to go with, a lot of students get hung up on the choice between Altius and Kaplan. People are super interested in Altius because of their students’ impressive average scores (north of 515), but just don’t seem to know enough about them to pull the trigger, especially with the high price tag. In this guide, we directly compare both prep courses and highlight the differences between them, so you can make an informed decision on which is best for you.
Given that this is a lengthy comparison, we’ve included jump-to links above for easy navigation.
Video Review: Kaplan vs Altius
In the video above, Test Prep Insight team member John directly compares the major strengths and weaknesses of the MCAT prep courses from Altius and Kaplan. For more detail regarding these prep courses, be sure to read our full written comparison below.
Rather than talk generally about the MCAT study materials from each company, we’ve decided to highlight the areas in which each company wins over one another. Below find the major reasons why you may want to go with Kaplan to help you prep for the MCAT instead of Altius.
Pricing & Course Options
When looking at straight dollars and cents, Kaplan offers the cheaper courses. Kaplan’s premium live online and in-person class packages costs around $2,600, which is more affordable than Altius’ starting package with small classes and 1-on-1 mentoring (~$3,000).
Plus, I should mention that a couple of Altius’ more premium packages (Silver and Gold) cost more than $5,000.
Bottom line, if you’re looking for live MCAT classes, Kaplan is most likely going to be the cheaper option by a pretty good margin, especially if you’re considering Altius’ Gold or Platinum packages.
If you are working with a limited budget, you may want to consider the MCAT course from Magoosh.
Although our team likes the manner in which Altius carries out their instruction – small group class sessions and 1-on-1 mentoring – both of which offer a straightforward and effective means of teaching the MCAT subjects you need to know, we ultimately prefer Kaplan’s curriculum.
Excluding the mentoring sessions, our team just thinks Kaplan offers the more comprehensive prep program. In fact, when totaled up, Kaplan’s full MCAT curriculum amounts to over 700 hours of study materials.
But it’s not just about having mountains of material. Your prep needs to be organized and efficient to effectively study for and nail the MCAT, and the Kaplan courses definitely deliver on that front as well.
One area where Kaplan grabs a clear win over Altius is with their video lessons. Don’t me wrong, our team likes Altius’ video lectures and think they’re serviceable, but they’re just not a strength of the Altius course (as you will find out, Altius is more so known for their live classes and 1:1 mentoring).
In comparison, Kaplan’s video lessons are awesome. They’re filled with impactful graphics, bullet point notes and cool little animations.
They’re not quite Blueprint MCAT level videos – but they are dang good. And the content contained them is on point. For visual learners leaning towards an on demand self-paced package, Kaplan may be the better bet.
MCAT Prep Books
The first difference between the Kaplan and Altius MCAT prep books is that Kaplan gives you a hefty volume of eight hardcopy books, while Altius provides just one.
Again, I usually hate comparing based on quantity alone, but this is actually a pretty big deal.
While Altius provides this singular bible-type study book that we really liked, it just doesn’t go nearly as deep as Kaplan’s written materials.
You get a prep book for each subject tested on the exam, plus a lesson book that tracks with your classes or video lessons (depending on if you go with the live course or not).
Basically, Kaplan makes their books a key part of their curriculum with assigned readings and lessons to follow (much like Prep101), while Altius treats it more like a supplemental reference guide.
The thing I’ll say on this topic is that Altius seems to focus more on the “human” aspect of prep – live class sessions, 1-on-1 tutoring and email support. The strength of their course is NOT cool, modern tech. In other words, Altius’ online platform is just sort of basic.
Whereas, Kaplan on the other hand, provides a very sleek and responsive online portal.
Everything has a cool design and is intuitively laid out, which shouldn’t come as a total surprise given Kaplan’s size and resources. This may matter to you, or may not. But for those who are looking for the better digital platform, Kaplan wins.
Now that we’ve discussed the areas in which Kaplan is better than Altius, it’s only fair to turn the tables and discuss the major highlights of the Altius courses.
Live MCAT Classes
As I alluded to earlier, one of the key highlights of the Altius program is their live classwork. And calling them classes is almost a misnomer, as they’re almost more like workshops.
Each class has just 8 or so students in it, so the sessions are very intimate and you get to know your Altius instructor and peers pretty well.
To try an analogy, when it comes to live classes, the difference between Kaplan and Altius is like the difference between a Bio 100 lecture hall with 200 students and a Chem 305 lab with 10 students.
The smaller size just offers more personalized instruction and is more engaging. You are asked to participate more frequently, and also feel like you don’t want to show up unprepared (at the very least for fear of being embarrassed).
Bottom line, while we like Kaplan’s live online classes, they have nothing on Altius’ small group sessions, especially considering you get somewhere between 60 and 200 hours of class time with Altius.
MCAT Practice Questions & Tests
When it comes to MCAT practice material, a lot of people just want to know how many practice questions and tests you get.
While this can be important, especially for students who learn best by “doing” and BURN through practice work, it’s a lot less critical than the quality of the practice material.
It’s much more important that you practice on questions and mock exams that closely replicate the difficulty, length and content of real MCAT questions.
That way on test day your pacing is on point and you don’t feel like you’re unprepared because your practice questions were too easy.
And without a doubt, our team believes Altius offers more realistic MCAT practice questions and tests than Kaplan. We’ve used both sets of practice work extensively, and Altius’ material, on average, just feels like a closer match.
Beyond the small live group classes, the other area where Altius really shines is with their 1:1 mentoring. Rather than making tutoring an add-on feature that costs a boatload more (like Kaplan), they build it right into their prep packages.
In fact, the weekly 1-on-1 sessions are sort of at the heart of your course. Your mentor, who really acts more like a tutor or coach, stays up to date on your progress and answers any questions you may have – substantive questions about hard content, pacing strategy, building a cram schedule, etc. It’s all up for grabs.
There’s something about the personalized guidance and support with this feature of the course that makes your prep more tolerable. It may just be because you have someone in your corner every week you can vent to, but it in my opinion, it’s about the biggest value add of the Altius course.
The final thing that sets Altius apart from Kaplan is their score guarantee. Basically, Altius offers a crazy score guarantee with most of their packages – score a 515 or better, or get your money back.
In other words, they guarantee you’ll score in the 90th percentile. Frankly, I don’t even understand how they can promise such a thing – it’s just crazy.
This is in contrast to Kaplan who simply guarantees you’ll score at least one point higher on the official MCAT after taking their course.
While our team is a fan of both prep courses and rate them out as some of the best in the MCAT space, our team thinks Kaplan offers the better bang for you buck.
Yes, there’s a lot to like about the courses from Altius between their small group live classes, 1:1 mentoring, highly realistic practice tests, and insane score guarantees. But the fact remains, the Altius courses are expensive!
We’re talking nearly $7,000 for Altius’ top of the line Platinum package. So if money is not a concern, then by all means, go with Atlius. We have nothing but positive things to say about their courses (except for the price point).
However, for most students, we think Kaplan is the better option given its price point. Sure, you don’t get the 1:1 mentoring sessions or the 515 score promise, but you still get over 700 hours of top-notch study materials.
Plus, not to mention, we like Kaplan’s video lessons and MCAT prep books more than Altius’ anyways. Bottom line, if you’re on a budget or simply can’t afford to drop more than $3,000, then Kaplan is the way to go.