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UWorld vs Kaplan MCAT

A detailed review and comparison the MCAT prep materials from Kaplan and UWorld after using each program

Kaplan and UWorld are two of the biggest names in the MCAT prep industry, and both get rave reviews from students. But now that I’ve had a chance to use and review the MCAT prep materials from each, I have some thoughts as to which one is more effective. In this article, I break down my analysis of each prep program so you can nail this exam and hopefully get accepted into a top rated medical school.

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    • $449
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    • $419
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Outline: Kaplan vs UWorld MCAT

To make this post easier to navigate, we have pasted in jump-to links above for your convenience.

Video: Which MCAT Prep Course Is Better?

In the video above, John from the Test Prep Insight team compares the MCAT study materials from Kaplan and UWorld. For more detail, be sure to continue reading below.

Kaplan MCAT Practice Tests

Kaplan MCAT

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  • More realistic MCAT problems than UWorld
  • Included 7-book set is a major value add (best books in MCAT prep)
  • Includes 6 full-length practice tests (none with UWorld)
  • Score reports and metrics offer better insights
  • Explanations are not as strong as UWorld's
  • Slightly more expensive
Kaplan MCAT Practice Tests
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Why Kaplan MCAT Is Better

To be honest, this is kind of a weird and difficult comparison for me to do. Most of the MCAT prep courses I have reviewed and compared are fairly apples-to-apples in terms of features, so I am able to get pretty nitty gritty in terms of directly comparing them and dissecting their various features.

However, the hard part is that Kaplan and UWorld are just so different when it comes to MCAT prep. They’re literally completely different study products. Let me explain.

 Kaplan is a full-fledged prep course. They give you a day-to-day study plan, live MCAT classes, mock exams, printed prep books, on demand video lessons, office hour sessions, homework assignments, and a lot more. In short, it’s your quintessential, ultra-comprehensive MCAT prep program.

Kaplan MCAT Video Lesson
Kaplan MCAT video lesson

UWorld, on the other hand though, is essentially a Qbank. There are none of the features that I just described above with Kaplan, other than the question bank (and the ability to make flashcards and custom notes). That’s it though.

In short, these are prep resources from different planets, which you can see in the price tags as well. 

The Kaplan MCAT course options cost anywhere from $2,000 to $3,200, depending on the course format, while UWorld costs between $320 and $420 depending on your length of access to their QBank.

So you can see what I mean. These are just different MCAT prep products. It’s literally like the difference between a moped and a Mercedes. They both get you to your end destination, but with a very different journey getting there (sorry, I’m bad at analogies).

Anyway, that’s why I see Kaplan as a standalone MCAT prep resource which can get you across the finish line, while I see UWorld more as a study supplement. It’s just not going to give you the instructional material that you need to get a high MCAT score, and you will have to combine it with other MCAT prep resources.

Kaplan MCAT Study Schedule
The Kaplan study schedule

Thus, if you’re debating between Kaplan’s full MCAT course and UWorld’s MCAT Qbank, then Kaplan wins by a mile. In this case, I recommend Kaplan all day, because it’s so much more comprehensive, and offers a level of guidance and support that you just don’t get with UWorld.

However, if you’re considering the Qbanks from each company (because Kaplan does sell a standalone Qbank product as well), then it becomes a little bit more reasonable to compare these MCAT study options.

That’s more of an apples-to-apples look at UWorld vs Kaplan, and that’s how I’ll approach this comparison, because if you’re reading this trying to figure out which Qbank product to go with, it is a tougher decision.

Therefore, to best structure this post, I will tell you where I think each company wins and has its advantages over the other. Then I’ll give you a quick verdict at the end as to which one I think you should go with after using each. Let’s start with Kaplan.

Includes Full Prep Book Set

The first big reason to go with Kaplan is their included book set. Frankly, it’s kind of surprising that Kaplan even includes with this with their Qbank product, as these are literally the best MCAT books on the market.

You can check out our full review of Kaplan’s MCAT course here if you want to get my more granular thoughts on these books, but just know that they are detailed, insightful, offer actionable testing strategies, and a lot more.

Kaplan MCAT books
The Kaplan MCAT books

Plus, given that they cost $160 on their own on Amazon, it’s pretty awesome that Kaplan includes them with their Qbank. This is a huge value add and a major advantage over UWorld because you’re getting direct instructional material.

Mock Exams For Test-Like Conditions

My next highlight for Kaplan is that they also include full-length practice tests with their Qbank while UWorld does not. Working practice problems and reviewing answers is a huge part of prepping; however, so is taking full-length mock exams under test-like conditions.

I’m honestly kind of surprised that UWorld doesn’t offer this. They do give you the ability to take Qbank problem sets under timed conditions, but they don’t have curated mock exams, which is somewhat surprising. Thus, this is a big leg up again for Kaplan. 

Better Value

Another big win for Kaplan is cost. As noted above, the UWorld Qbank product costs somewhere between $320 and $420. UWorld charges $320 if you want 90 days of access, $370 if you want 180 days of access, and $420 for a full year of access.

The Kaplan Qbank products range in price from $330 for 6 months of access to $550. Yet the most popular option (and the one I would go with for Kaplan) is their middle package. It gives you a full 12 months of access, includes their full 7-book MCAT set, and 6 full-length mock exams. That package costs $450.

Kaplan MCAT practice problems
We think Kaplan has more realistic practice material

Thus, if you compare that middle Kaplan package against UWorld’s 12-month comparable package, it’s $450 for Kaplan to $420 for UWorld. Yet, despite costing $30 more, I actually think Kaplan is a superior value.

For one, you get 6 full-length practice tests and the 7-book set with Kaplan—something UWorld doesn’t provide at all. Then second, Kaplan is way more aggressive with the deals and special discounts, which can really shave the price down, so make sure to check for discount codes.

More Realistic Problems

Lastly, the final highlight for Kaplan, and it’s a big one, is that I think Kaplan has more realistic practice problems. Both companies do a good job, but when you consider the length, content, style, and difficulty of real MCAT problems, Kaplan gets the win.

Obviously, nothing compares to the AAMC practice bundle, but assuming you’re using that in addition to these products and you’re talking about Kaplan’s in-house crafted problems vs UWorld’s, I prefer Kaplan’s. I just found them to more realistic and a better match for the real thing.



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  • Really deep and insightful problem explanations, with great graphics
  • Cool notetaking feature and flashcard generator
  • In my opinion, UWorld's problems are not as realistic as Kaplan's
  • Kaplan offers much better value with included books and mock exams
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Why UWorld MCAT Is Better

Now that we’ve discussed Kaplan’s advantages, let’s get to UWorld’s wins. And I have two of them.

Superior Problem Explanations

Simply put, the UWorld problem explanations and rationales are amazing. Every problem in the UWorld Qbank comes with a detailed text explanation, illustration or graphic of the underlying principles being tested, and rationales as to why each answer choice is right or wrong.

This is the crux of the UWorld learning system. They are big believers in learning by doing, and you need to have good explanations and review materials in order to do that. Thus it seems to me that this is where they’ve invested the bulk of their resources.

UWorld MCAT Prep
UWorld problem explanation

These explanations are all clearly articulated, explained in easy-to-understand terms, give you a good amount of detail, and most importantly, I love the visuals that they come with.

These are seriously beautiful illustrations and graphics which I believe visual learners will love. So even though I think Kaplan offers more representative MCAT practice problems, the UWorld explanations are better.

Great Notetaking Features

The other big win for UWorld is their flashcard and notetaking features. UWorld doesn’t give you flashcards or notes directly, but instead provides an integrated tool where you can make your own.

UWorld MCAT Notebook Feature
The UWorld MCAT notebook feature

Basically, anytime you come across a graphic or explanation that you like or know you need to remember, you can just click a button and add it directly to your digital notebook or create a flashcard out of it. It’s a really smooth integration, and it’s very easy to use.

It obviously creates more work for you as the user as compared to being handed a flashcard deck or cheat sheets, but that’s also part of the learning process, because you have to think critically about what notes to type in as you add it to your own custom materials.  

Kaplan MCAT Practice Tests
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Verdict: Which MCAT Prep Course Wins?

As noted above, if you’re debating between the full Kaplan MCAT course and UWorld’s Qbank, and you’re here looking for some advice, go with Kaplan. It is such a superior MCAT study product that you can’t even compare the two. However, between the two MCAT Qbanks, it’s a pretty close call, and both have some really unique strengths.

At the end of the day though, I still give the edge to Kaplan. With included prep books, full-length mock exams and more realistic practice problems, even though UWorld might have slightly better explanations, I think Kaplan is the way to go.

👉 Read Next: Best MCAT Prep Course Rankings


Is Kaplan or UWorld better for MCAT prep?

I personally found Kaplan to be a more useful MCAT Qbank. While I did like the UWorld problem explanations, I think Kaplan had more realistic problems, and I like that they include full-length tests and prep books.

Does UWorld or Kaplan have more realistic practice MCAT problems?

In my opinion, after using both programs, I think Kaplan has more representative practice problems. I found them to be a better match for the style, length and difficulty of real MCAT passages and questions.