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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 very 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 more affordable courses than Altius. Kaplan’s premium live online package costs around $2,400, while the Altius starting package with small classes and 1-on-1 mentoring (Elite) costs around $3,000.
Plus, I should mention that a couple of Altius’ more premium packages (Silver and Gold) cost more than $5,000. Simply put, it is not a cheap course.
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.
Kaplan uses a modular approach to learning, with a detailed study schedule in calendar form that drives everything. It is a very smart and thoughtful design, which flows naturally and is efficient.
One area where Kaplan grabs a clear win over Altius is with their video lessons. Don’t me wrong, I like 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 will be the better bet.
MCAT Prep Books
A major difference between the Kaplan and Altius MCAT prep books is that Kaplan gives you a hefty volume of seven 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 bonus lesson book that tracks with your classes (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.
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.
Small Group MCAT Classes
As I alluded to earlier, one of the big highlights of the Altius program is their live classwork. Frankly, 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 100 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).
That being said, I have absolutely nothing against Kaplan’s live classes. In fact, I actually quite enjoyed my class experience with them. Kaplan uses dual instructors to teach, where one instructor operates the chat function while the other one teaches.
This frees the teaching instructor up, so students can get their questions answered without distracting others. That was a very beneficial aspect. Plus, the Kaplan instructors are just plain good (and likely better than Altius instructors on a 1:1 basis). But Altius’ small group class size is a major perk.
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 on that point, 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. Though, with that being said, Kaplan has come a long way in the last couple years in revamping their practice material, and I would say Kaplan is now probably top three in the space in terms of realism.
Tutoring & Mentorship
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 extra, 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. But I do know one thing: those promises don’t come cheap. The average Altius course costs far more than its Kaplan counterpart. But you do get that nice score assurance.
While our team really likes both prep courses, and rates them out as some of the best in the MCAT space, we believe Kaplan offers much more bang for your buck. In fact, we think their courses are straight up better at this point.
Yes, there’s a lot to like about the courses from Altius with 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.
Plus, they lack many of the MCAT staples that Kaplan thrives on: on demand video lessons, prep books, and a flexible course structure with integrated learning modules. For most students, we think Kaplan is the better option given its price point and current approach. 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.
Bottom line, we think Kaplan is the way to go between these two MCAT prep companies.
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 Kaplan’s MCAT course is better than the Altius program. Kaplan wins on video lessons, course structure, and the quality of their live instruction.
Is Altius worth it over Kaplan?
It can be, if you have the money and the program matches with your learning style. The Altius packages come with small group live classes and 1-on-1 mentoring sessions, making them a good fit for students seeking personalized support.
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.