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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.
As this is a long and detailed comparison, we’ve added jump-to links above so you can quickly navigate this article.
Altius vs Kaplan MCAT Video Comparison
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, read our full comparison below.
In addition, to most effectively compare these MCAT prep packages side-by-side, we’ve broken out our team’s thoughts based on the areas where we see each company winning. Let’s start with the categories where Altius wins.
Advantage: Altius. Although Kaplan provides a very comprehensive prep program that incorporates a number of different study elements, we actually prefer Altius’ coursework. Kaplan’s full MCAT curriculum, when all totaled up, amounts to like 700 hours of study time. 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 we just found the Altius curriculum to be more streamlined and better designed.
The two primary ways Altius carries out their instruction – small group class sessions and 1-on-1 mentoring – offer a straightforward and effective means of teaching the subjects you need to know. Plus, Altius’ practice work is better integrated into their program. So overall, though both companies offer strong curriculums, we prefer Altius.
Advantage: Altius. As I just mentioned, 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.
Practice Questions & Tests
Advantage: Altius. 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. In fact, we think their MCAT practice tests are about the best and most realistic in the game.
Tutoring & Mentorship
Advantage: Altius. 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.
Score Increase Guarantees
Advantage: Altius. 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. So it’s a pretty big discrepancy when it comes to score increase rises, and for those looking to crush the MCAT with a 515 or better, Altius gives you better protection.
Advantage: Kaplan. 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 (again, the live classes and 1:1 mentoring are).
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.
Advantage: Kaplan. The first difference between the Kaplan and Altius MCAT prep books is that Kaplan gives you a hefty volume of 8 hardcopy books, while Altius provides just 1. 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, while Altius treats it more like a supplemental reference guide.
Digital Platform & User Experience
Advantage: Kaplan. 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 this course is NOT cool, modern tech. Their online platform is just sort of basic. 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.
Pricing & Course Options
Advantage: Kaplan. When looking at straight dollars and cents, Kaplan is the slightly cheaper course. While their one live online class costs $2,500, that’s the starting price point for the Altius packages with small classes and 1-on-1 mentoring. Altius’ more basic course options are a different story and have the edge over Kaplan for on demand study courses, but the real apples-to-apples comparison is the live class options.
That said, while many of Altius’s courses run up higher than Kaplan’s $2,500 price tag, their courses can routinely be found for $800 off with discounts – so make sure to check for Altius coupon codes if you go that route.
Overall Win: Altius. While our team is a fan of both prep courses and rates them out as some of the best in the MCAT space, there is no denying that Altius is the better prep course. While we like Kaplan’s on demand video lessons, detailed prep books, and mountain of study material, Altius’ personalized guidance with hands-on support just makes it the more effective prep option.
There’s a reason why they promise scores north of 515 and their students regularly hit that mark. Between the small live class sessions, 1:1 mentoring, highly realistic practice tests, and streamlined curriculum, there’s just too much to overcome for Kaplan. MCAT prep courses are a hefty investment no matter how you cut it, so as long as you’re shelling out a couple thousand bucks, we would suggest going with Altius – we feel that they offer students a better chance of crushing a top score.
Which MCAT prep course is better, Kaplan or Altius?
After thoroughly reviewing each MCAT course and stacking them up head-to-head, we feel that Altius offers a better MCAT prep package than Kaplan. With their 1-on-1 mentoring, small group classes, and streamlined curriculum, we really like the Altius course.
Is Altius worth it over Kaplan?
Yes. Although Altius’ premium course options cost more than Kaplan’s live online course, you can regularly find discounts to get $800 off the Altius course, making it worth it.
Does Kaplan or Altius guarantee a better MCAT score?
With a promised score of at least 515, Altius’ score guarantee is the best in MCAT prep. And this is proven out with Altius students averaging scores in the 90th percentile.