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Altius MCAT Review
Our in-depth evaluation and review of the MCAT prep course from Altius Test Prep
Though somewhat of a newcomer to the MCAT prep world, Altius Test Prep offers an eye popping stat that you just won’t see elsewhere – an average student score of 516 on the MCAT. In fact, some of their packages even guarantee a 90th percentile or better score after taking their course. By bringing a unique approach to MCAT prep centered on mentorship with top 5% scorers and detailed review sessions, Altius Test Prep is trying to change the game. In this detailed review guide we cover our evaluation of their practice questions, mentorship program, pricing, and all of their study materials, providing our honest opinion and rating.
The first thing you realize when sign up for the Altius MCAT prep program is that they’re not like other prep courses. I’ve taken and reviewed close to a dozen different MCAT prep programs at this point, and none take the approach that Altius does. And that’s because rather than making traditional lectures and streamable video lessons the center of their course, they focus on 1-on-1 mentorship and small group-based study sessions. Their take on MCAT prep, and test prep in general, is that students retain material and perform better when supported by a mentor. And not just any mentor – one that has scored in at least the 95th percentile or better.
They swear by this method as the most effective means of learning, and after having taken their course now, I can sort of agree. There is something about the structure and support of having regular mentoring sessions and feedback that adds true value. You meet with your mentor regularly to review practice test results, discuss your weak spots, and strategize on how to attack certain problem types. Yes, with other course like Kaplan and Princeton Review, you do get access to your course instructors, but not like this. With Altius, you allegedly get 24/7 access to your mentor, by email, phone or text. Now, I seriously doubt you’re going to be able to text someone an organic chemistry question at 3:30am and get a response, but after having taken this course, I definitely agree that these mentors go deeper than even a regular tutor. It truly feels like they’re investing in you succeeding, and not just there to answer questions.
I really liked the time I got with my assigned mentor. He was a previous Altius student himself, and after having score in the 96th percentile on the MCAT, Altius asked him to come back as a mentor during his gap year. In fact, this is how Altius gets a lot of their mentors from what I understand – they hire previous students who learned their formula and crushed the MCAT. In any event, I had a fantastic experience, and really connected with my mentor. He clearly knew his stuff forward and backwards, and his input was especially helpful when reviewing practice tests. His thoughts and analysis on where I went wrong and how I answered certain questions provided true help and insight.
Beyond the mentoring, Altius focuses on small group instruction, practice tests (including AAMC practice materials), and more. In my opinion, their practice tests and simulated questions are unbelievably good, but I’ve got more detail on those below. In terms of instruction, the vast majority of your work will be held in small group sessions. And when I say small, I mean it – my group only had 8 students in it. I am not sure if this is the same with all of their study groups, but I have heard they are very limited in size to allow more 1-on-1 time between the students an instructors. And I’ll just say that I really liked this restriction on group size. It made the study sessions feel more intimate and you get yo know your classmates pretty well, which I liked.
In any event, these small group sessions are awesome. They are led by one or two Altius MCAT pros and you cover content review and sample questions. Mot of your time is spent working practice problems and discussing them in a sort of Socratic method. It’s not just the instructor talking at you – you’ll actually have to participate and talk your thought process on questions. So while this may be tough for shy people, it’s works really well. It keeps you engaged and you really have to think on your feet, just like you will on the MCAT.
Depending on which package you go with, you’re going to get somewhere between like 120 hours and 200 hours of these small group study sessions. And while the mentorship time is great, in my opinion, I actually think these small group study sessions are the real value add here. That level of immersive and detail review is just hard to come by and it’s where you’ll do most of your learning.
All in all, I was super impressed with the Altius MCAT prep course structure and coursework. I’m actually kind of shocked (and bummed) I hadn’t heard of them sooner. Their mentoring program is awesome in concept and delivery. You essentially get a personal tutor, with that teaching backed up small, live class sessions. Not only that, I found their prep materials to be top notch (more on this below).
Pricing & Course Options
Altius offers a variety of course options, from a fairly basic Elite Course (an odd name for a base offering) in the $2,500 range, all the way up to a $10,000 summer immersion program. That said, their most popular course is their Gold package, which costs roughly $5,000. And that is about the biggest knock we have with Altius here; their course just isn’t cheap.
That said, though more expensive than most other prep providers, it is somewhat understandable given that their prep course is built around tutoring and mentorship, which does cost them a lot, I’m sure.
Pricing and course options current as of date of publication.
Altius MCAT Practice Tests
Surprisingly, Altius’ practice tests are some of the best in category. And this is for a specific reason. According to their info, Altius applied the same software used by the FBI to identify trends in criminal cyber activity to identify patterns in the MCAT. They then reverse engineered their practice tests to match the real MCAT as closely as possible based on question structures, length, difficulty, content, and weighting in appearance. Pretty crazy. Because of this, they claim their in-house practice tests are the closest thing to the real AAMC materials in terms of word count, passage density and more.
In any event, it shows. I’ve taken more practice MCAT tests than I care to say at this point and I found their questions to be dead on for the real thing. From the question structure, to use of illustrations and exhibits, it was highly realistic of the actual MCAT. So in my book, Altius gets high marks in this category.
In addition, the testing interface and software was also a close match for the real MCAT. That said, I don’t this as some special feature – just about every MCAT prep course has an interface today that basically mirrors the real MCAT experience. So brownie points for simulating the real thing, but more of a check the box type item in my opinion. Also, I need to mention that I think their practice problem explanations are first class. They are detailed, insightful and written in an easy to understand way. When combined with their mentorship program to review results, I found it to be a truly effective combo.
Altius’ Mentorship Program
To elaborate on the above, the mentorship program with the Altius MCAT course is where you get some real bang for your buck. You can hit up your MCAT mentor any time of day (within reason) and chat with them about whatever is on your mind. I will caution you though, these mentoring sessions are limited and tied to your package. For example, you either get 15, 25 or 45 private 1-on-1 sessions depending on which mentor-based package you sign up for.
So my advice is not to use them willy nilly. Really make a plan for how you want to use them and figure out where they give you the most lift – reviewing practice tests, strategizing over different sections and problems types, or doubling back to content review. Again though, at least in my opinion, the best use of your mentor’s time is reviewing practice questions and tests.
These mentoring packages aren’t cheap, but they are dang good. Altius has created a really nice support system through these mentors, so its not a total shock they’re willing to guarantee 90th percentile scores.
Small Group Instruction & Mastery Sessions
As discussed above, outside of the mentoring, Altius offers a super valuable set of live class sessions. These are taught in small groups, and sessions are held pretty frequently. When you sign up with Altius you select a “track” for when you want to take the course (spring / summer/ fall / winter) and how accelerated you want it to be. There are long tracks where you only meet roughly once per week, or shorter tracks that meet multiple times per week. No matter which track you choose though, like the mentoring, how many hours of live class sessions you get directly ties into which package go with. But whether it’s 120 hours or 200 hours, I really liked these live classes.
They almost feel like an extension of your mentoring. Because the classes are small, you can ask questions and get pretty personalized feedback. That’s one of the big takeaways with Altius – when you take the mentoring sessions and small group instruction together, you are constantly surrounded by a support community of really sharp MCAT test takers, and you can always just raise your hand. This is much different than what you get in a self-paced course from a test prep giant like Kaplan or Blueprint.
Altius offers a nice slate of extra resources with their course, but I would say my favorite was the student study manual (or in layman’s terms, the prep book). Whereas other major prep providers like Gold Standard and Princeton Review ship you a massive stack of texts with thousands of pages when you sign up, Altius keeps it real simple. They manage their written material in just one prep book that is about 600 pages thick. It contains content review, sample questions with explanations, and drills for you to work.
My favorite aspect of the book has to be its conciseness. I think Altius does a great job cutting out all the fluff and least-tested material, and just focusing on what matters most. Yes, 600 pages is still a lot of material, but it’s better than having to read 2,000+ pages. And I do feel like the material covered in this MCAT bible (if you will) is all you need. Plus, I liked that everything is housed in one book – no jumping around from prep book to prep book. A small point, but worth noting.
Altius Test Prep’s Crazy Score Guarantee
As mentioned at the top of this post, Altius offers a crazy score guarantee with the majority of their packages – score in the 90th percentile or better, or get your money back. This is just wild. I mean absolutely bananas. I have reviewed a ton of MCAT prep courses and no one makes promises like this. The closest thing may be Princeton Review, but even their score guarantees cap out at 515 for their top of the line immersion package. And even at that, Altius students AVERAGE better than a 515 score promise. In short, this is an awesome promise that will give students comfort who may be on the fence.
Dovetailing off the score guarantee, Altius has a 14-day trial period to test drive their course. If at the end of 14 days you aren’t totally happy, just let them know and you can cancel your course purchase with a 100% refund. Another nice promise that I was happy to see.
Altius doesn’t have a mobile app, but their online MCAT course content is mobile friendly. And just as a note, I wouldn’t bother with the smartphone for studying anyway. The mentoring sessions and group study halls are much better on your laptop with a full screen.
Verdict: Altius MCAT Review
The bottom line with Altius is that while their MCAT prep course isn’t cheap, we loved their mentorship program, highly realistic practice materials and small group review sessions. By making personalized 1-on-1 tutoring the centerpiece of their course, they’ve really differentiated themselves from their competitors in terms of student support and instruction. Along with with the small group study sessions, you just feel immersed in MCAT prep with a guiding hand, and can ask questions basically anytime you want. They also offer about the most realistic practice tests that I have seen to date, with some fantastic written problem explanations to boot. Between these tutoring sessions and superb practice materials, there really isn’t much not to like about Altius (except maybe the price), and our team had to give Altius MCAT prep really high marks.
The Altius MCAT prep options range in price from about $2,500 for their basic package, all the way up to around $10,000 for their intensive, summer immersion course. That said, their most popular prep options are under $5,000.
What is the highlight of the Altius MCAT prep program?
Definitely their mentorship program. Altius makes mentorship the heart of its prep program, with every student getting intensive tutoring from a 95th percentile scorer.
Does Altius Test Prep have a score guarantee?
Yes, Altius has an MCAT score guarantee. In fact, for certain prep packages, Altius guarantees a score of 516 or better.