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Jack Westin MCAT Course Review
Our in-depth review of the full MCAT course from Jack Westin (including CARS passages, practice work, and science content)
Until just recently, Jack Westin was known for CARS, and CARS alone. They generated their own mock CARS passages and provided a framework of strategies for dissecting these problem types, but not much else. Now, however, Jack Westin has rolled out a new science content course, and when combined with their popular CARS course, you get the full Jack Westin MCAT course. In this detailed review, we break down everything you need to know about this comprehensive MCAT course, and whether we think it’s worth it.
Given that this is a long and detailed review, we’ve included jump-to links above for your convenience.
How The Jack Westin MCAT Course Works
Let’s start this review off by covering how the Jack Westin MCAT course works. And to begin at the beginning, you need to know that Jack Westin used to be just a CARS course. They literally covered nothing but the CARS section of the exam, and most of their materials were actually even free.
Recently though, because of the popularity of their CARS materials, they’ve also rolled out a science content and strategies course, and now cover the whole exam.
So essentially, you can take just their CARS course, their science course, or both together, which form the full Jack Westin MCAT course.
Jack Westin CARS, Science & Complete Course Pricing
In terms of cost, the standalone CARS and science courses run for $950, and the combined full MCAT course is $1,450.
Putting that in perspective, that’s about half the cost of Blueprint, Kaplan, Princeton Review, and other mega providers. So at face value, the Jack Westin comprehensive course is a strong value. However, after taking and reviewing this course (and as you’ll find out below), we actually believe this is a fairly expensive package for what you actually get.
And do keep in mind that you still need to buy the full AAMC practice material bundle separately with Jack Westin. That package costs around $300, which isn’t cheap, so keep that in mind.
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AAMC & Critical Thinking Strategy
Enough on cost and background, let’s get to how the new Jack Westin course actually works. Essentially, the entire course is built around two things: the AAMC practice materials and critical thinking strategy.
Now, you might be wondering why or how they build their full MCAT course around critical thinking. Well, this is because Jack Westin sees the MCAT exam as being 30% hard science and 70% critical thinking. That assertion is debatable, but it is their approach regardless.
Their thinking is that when you boil down how you’re being tested on the MCAT, critical thinking makes up a huge portion of the exam. And as such, they give tons and tons of time to it. So again, those are the central, overarching themes of this course: AAMC practice materials and critical thinking skills development.
Jack Westin MCAT Study Materials
Logistically, here’s how that approach plays out. Jack Westin basically takes all of the sections from the two courses (CARS and science) and mixes them in together. In other words, they splice these modules in together into a lager, more comprehensive schedule.
In total, there are 28 sections in the complete course. Most of these sections cover science content review, with a CARS section sprinkled in every few modules. Although the science content sort of takes a backseat to critical thinking generally in this course, it still makes up most of the sections.
In fact, there are 46 science content lectures (2 hours each) to just 19 strategy sections. Of these strategy-only modules though, 13 are science-based strategy, and the other 6 are the major CARS modules.
The CARS lectures are 4+ hours each and the science strategy lessons are typically under an hour. So in total, you’re looking at around 130 hours of self-paced, on demand video lessons.
Then after each video lecture, you’re given homework. For the science content lectures, this is almost exclusively discrete questions in the official MCAT interface, and for CARS, the homework is a mix of a few things.
The CARS homework is mostly AAMC passages, but also some Jack Westin proprietary passages they’ve written themselves. Not to mention, sometimes as a bonus they’ll toss in Khan Academy homework. Though that’s usually secondary and not even required – it’s more of a bonus.
And lastly, beyond the self-paced video lectures and assigned practice problem homework sets, there are a ton of workshops. The workshops are sessions that you can attend live, or more likely, watch recorded after the fact.
Jack Westin has a workshop for every passage they’ve created and one for every AAMC passage you’ll get assigned. So after you do your homework passages and questions twice (as they always ask you to do), you then watch the workshop to review the passages and break down problems in detail.
That’s about it in terms of how the main course works. You move from your video lecture into homework, then into review workshops, and keep knocking down sections until you’re done.
You do get some extra resources like a retake calculator, browser extension (which allows you to take AAMC practice problems in the real interface), daily passages, and an interactive version of the AAMC outline, but that’s basically it in terms of features and how it works.
Now that I’ve covered how this course works and what’s included, let’s get into what I like and what I don’t like about Jack Westin. And let’s start with the things I like.
Jack Westin CARS Passages, Practice & Strategy
My favorite thing about this course is the strategy component, for both CARS and science. Not only do I like the focus on strategy, but more importantly, I think they’ve created a solid framework that really works.
Don’t get me wrong, learning their strategy framework and putting put their rules into practice is very intense, but they also really work.
They teach you how to think through what’s actually being tested, diagnose the real message behind a passage, avoid trap answers, and other helpful tricks for getting you into the right state of mind to plow through passages in a smart, efficient way. Bottom line, I love the strategy they teach and think it adds a ton of value.
Revolves Around AAMC Materials
Secondly, I also love Jack Westin’s use of AAMC materials. There is no better authority for written practice materials than the makers of the exam, the AAMC.
To be clear, the text explanations the AAMC provides with their questions are a completely different story, and I think they’re more or less useless. But that’s not what I’m talking about here.
In terms of quality of practice work and mimicking test day experience in your studying, you’re not going to do better than these materials. So I’m glad Jack Westin makes them a central part of your study plan.
And even on the point of those AAMC explanations, Jack Westin solves that with a browser extension. Their Chrome extension beefs up the AAMC explanations for you as you review them post-practice set.
Live Workshops & Office Hours
The final positive for me here are the live workshops and office hours. So two or three times per week, Jack Westin hosts live workshops to break down passages.
Usually, Jack Westin doesn’t want you watching workshop reviews until you’ve completed the attendant lecture and homework, but these live sessions relate to the daily Jack Westin passages, which are available to all students. Thus, these are more like a bonus resource on top of the main course.
Nonetheless, they’re really good. If you have time to squeeze in a couple of these sessions per week, I personally think they’re worth your time.
Plus, Jack Westin also offers a couple live office hour sessions per week where you get an open floor to get answers to any and all questions you have. These are great to get your lingering questions answered and bounce things of their pros without having to pay for tutoring.
What We Don’t Like About Jack Westin MCAT
So that covers what I like about Jack Westin’s MCAT course. Now let’s get to the things I wasn’t crazy about.
Disjointed Course Structure
My first Jack Westin negative is the organization and integration of materials into this course. Basically, the structure of this course is totally disjointed. They make you run all over the place for your different materials, and it’s not very streamlined (unlike the MCAT courses from Princeton Review or Kaplan).
You’ll watch a video lecture from the dashboard; then have to download a PDF copy of assigned homework; then jump over to your AAMC materials in the browser extension; then back to your dashboard to find a catalog of all the relevant workshops; then back up to section you’re on. It’s exhausting.
In short, it’s just not super well integrated. You kind of get into the swing of things after a week or so, but it would be nice to see them make the platform a little more seamless in terms of navigating all your materials.
Science Content Review Lectures
To be totally honest, I wasn’t super impressed by their series of science lectures. These science content review sessions were the latest edition to Jack Westin’s package to make this prep bundle a complete MCAT course, but they’re just not that great.
The lead instructor Phil does an OK job communicating some tough topics, but the format of the video lessons isn’t my favorite, and they just don’t get into the level of detail you get with Blueprint and Kaplan.
Bottom line, despite the seemingly low price tag, I actually prefer the video lectures from other MCAT courses like Princeton Review and Kaplan.
The Man Himself
So my next negative is Jack himself. Here’s the thing. I really like Jack’s framework of strategies and his command of the CARS sessions, but he can just be very abrasive.
Basically, he just doesn’t sugar coat things and can come off as curt. You can tell it’s just because he’s super passionate about his strategies and making sure you’re learning and understand them, but it did seem like he could swept up in discussions and be a little short, that’s all.
BYOO (Bring Your Own Outlines)
My final negative is how Jack Westin makes you create your own outline for the psychology and sociology section. This was just a little weird to me. They give you outlines and notes for all the other sections, but make you make your own for this one section.
They say by filling it in yourself and building your own outline you’ll learn the material better and have a deeper understanding of it, which I get, but wouldn’t that be true for all sections then too? I don’t know, in the end it works, but just was a little odd to me.
Verdict: Jack Westin MCAT Prep Review
That about does it for the detail in this review, so let’s get to my final verdict: is the full Jack Westin MCAT course worth it? Honestly, I don’t think so.
I do think their critical thinking strategies and framework for approaching passages are some of the best in MCAT prep, but there’s not much value beyond that, other than maybe their use of AAMC materials.
Bottom line, we like Jack Westin for CARS and they have a nice price point, but when it comes to something as serious as MCAT prep, we think you would be better off with other courses, such as Kaplan, Blueprint, or Princeton Review.
Yes and no. Jack Westin does offer a number of free materials, like daily CARS passages and some live workshops, but most of the premium content is behind a paywall. Not to mention, you’ll need to buy the AAMC practice bundle.
Is Jack Westin good for MCAT?
To be honest, the Jack Westin course is not really that good on the whole. Their CARS materials are great, but that’s about it. The science content lectures fall short, and the course is poorly organized.
Is Jack Westin harder than AAMC?
I would say that the Jack Westin CARS passages are about on par with AAMC passages in terms of length, difficulty and content. Jack Westin has some of the more realistic CARS problems I’ve seen.