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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.
Video Guide: Jack Westin MCAT
In the above video, TPI team member John covers everything you need to know about the MCAT course from Jack Westin. For deeper detail, please continue reading.
Jack Westin MCAT Course Overview
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 definitely a strong value.
Though 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.
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.
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.
How The Course Works
Logistically though, here’s how that 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 lecture, 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.
What We Like About Jack Westin MCAT
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 really like.
Jack Westin CARS Passages, Practice & Strategy
My absolute favorite thing about this course is the strategy component, for both CARS and science. Not only do I love the focus on strategy, but more importantly, I think they’ve created an awesome 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.
Science Content Review Lectures
My third highlight worth noting is the series of science lectures with Phil. Essentially, this guy named Phil Hawkins teaches all of the science content review sessions for Jack Westin, and he is simply awesome.
He’s super knowledgeable, he’s got great energy, and he does an awesome job synthesizing and communicating some tough topics. Additionally, I even like the format of the video lessons.
Phil appears in the corner of the screen and make notes on the main lecture slides. He uses a lot of diagrams and notes, which are great for visual learners. Bottom line, despite the low price tag, I actually like these video lectures better than the on demand video lessons from Princeton Review and Altius.
Live Workshops & Office Hours
The final pro for me 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 great. If you have time to squeeze in a couple of these sessions per week, I personally think they’re worth their weight in gold.
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 just kind of disjointed. They make you run all over the place for your different materials, and it’s not very streamlined.
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 do get into the swing of things after the first few days and get a feel for the flow of it, but it would be nice to see them make the platform a little more seamless in terms of navigating all your materials.
The Man Himself
So my second con is Jack himself. Here’s the thing. I love Jack’s framework of strategies, his teaching materials, and his command of the CARS sessions, but he can just be a little coarse or blunt.
Basically, he just doesn’t sugar coat things and can come off as a little 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: The Jack Westin MCAT Course
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 think so. Obviously, they don’t offer structured live classes like Altius, or smart, interactive learning modules like Blueprint, but I do think Jack Westin offers a ton of value, especially for under $1,500.
I love the science content lectures with Phil, and the critical thinking strategies and framework for approaching passages is probably the best in MCAT prep. Plus, their focus on consistent practice with AAMC material is super smart.
Bottom line, I think there is a lot to like about this full MCAT course from Jack Westin, and if you particularly need help with CARS and developing strategy skills for attacking the MCAT, then Jack Westin is a great choice.
Is Jack Westin free?
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?
Yes, the Jack Westin course is really good, especially the CARS materials. The science content lectures and practice work are solid, but their CARS strategies and framework might be the best in MCAT prep.
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. The same goes for the science questions. Jack Westin has some of the more realistic problems I’ve seen, and they are much closer than Kaplan’s to the AAMC.