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Kaplan PCAT Review
Our expert team’s in-depth review of the Kaplan PCAT course and books
When it comes to studying for the PCAT, the majority of students use Kaplan for their prep. After all, Kaplan is endorsed by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) as their official provider of PCAT prep, and is by far and away the largest test prep company out there. But just because this behemoth has the official endorsement and is the most utilized prep program, does that mean it’s the best? Our expert team has purchased and thoroughly tested this prep course, providing our thoughts below.
Without a doubt, Kaplan provides one of the most robust offerings of study material in PCAT prep. In total, you’re looking at around 120 hours of combined online instruction and practice work across 36 hours of lecture time, 5 full-length practice exams, thousands of practice questions, and other study resources. So there’s no doubt Kaplan wins on the quantity front. But what about the quality and depth of this coursework?
Well, it all starts at the top with their instruction. If you opt for Kaplan’s self-paced course option, you get 36 hours of on demand video lessons, while live online students get 36 hours of live class time (covering the same material, but more on these below).
Overall, I found the video lessons to be super useful. They weren’t the coolest video lectures I’ve ever seen, but the content was spot on. The lessons effectively cover content review, test taking strategies, and sample problems. I personally found Kaplan’s coverage through example problems to be the most helpful.
The lectures point out places where students commonly fall victim to trap answers and basically walk you through step-by-step how to solve. For me, being a pretty visual and direct learner, this was immensely helpful.
In addition, the content review portions are solid as well. If you prefer watching videos to reading passages from a textbook, then you’ll probably feel the same way. They basically take the highlights from the Kaplan PCAT prep books, and put them into video form. So the videos don’t cover as much detail as the books – they can’t, there’s simply too much detail – but they’re still pretty good visual overviews.
Again, the format isn’t the best, as they leverage a digital whiteboard type approach with slides and lesson voiceover, but the visuals do really help and the content is on point. And I’d say the engagement level is above average. The videos aren’t overly long and held my attention.
Then beyond the video lessons, you’re assigned reading from the Kaplan books, as well as practice problems through quizzes and the online question bank. To me, the assigned readings were kind of dry, but very thorough. But I’m not even sure you can really complain about it being “dry.”
After all, this is PCAT prep and there’s simply no way around having to read dense material and try to memorize scientific facts and formulas. So though it’s dry, everyone’s PCAT material is dry. More importantly, I couldn’t find issue with the content of Kaplan’s book material. After decades of perfecting their books, they really are on point. They’re a nice balance of detail and brevity, and I liked the quick section summaries they provide for high-level takeaways and need-to-know info.
Additionally, the practice questions are rock solid. Kaplan’s practice problems are absolutely the closest I’ve seen to real PCAT questions. They closely match the difficulty, content and length of real exam problems. For me, this really helped with pacing issues and practicing under realistic, exam-like conditions. I believe there are around 1,000 practice problems available in total in the Kaplan program, though I didn’t make it through all of them myself. So that’s probably a good sign they provide enough practice work.
Lastly, besides the video lessons, assigned readings and practice work, Kaplan offers a series of video “workshops.” I found these to be a pretty cool and unique feature. Essentially, a Kaplan instructor takes a really deep dive into a certain frequently tested topic and gets into the weeds. They talk about strategies for approaching these problem types, trap answers to avoid, and pacing issues, plus a little content review here and there. These mini workshop sessions are really cool, especially for topics where you are week.
All in all, I was a big fan of the Kaplan coursework. I found their curriculum to be well-organized and streamlined, building up from the foundational concepts. While the video lesson format was a little dated and the readings dry at times, by and large, I really liked all the other aspects of this course. The content is 100% dead on, the practice material is realistic of the real PCAT, and you get more coverage than you do with probably any other prep provider.
Course Price & Options
As alluded to above, Kaplan offers their PCAT prep through two course formats: a self-paced, on demand option and a live online class. The two course formats are essentially the exact same, apart from price and obviously, live instruction. The live class option adds 36 hours of live class time with a Kaplan instructor that you don’t get with the on demand package.
These packages cost approximately $900 and $1,200, respectively. Comparatively speaking, Kaplan is on the higher end of the cost spectrum when it comes to PCAT prep, but they definitely do offer a strong, robust program. Plus, you can often find these courses on sale for up to 15% off, so make sure to look for promo codes.
Course options and pricing current as of date of publication.
The Live Class Sessions
To briefly touch on Kaplan’s live online classes, I took the live online version of the class and was largely impressed. The live classes cover the same material that’s covered in the prerecorded video lectures, but seem to go deeper. The teacher offers side tips and tricks and seems to adjust the flow of the class to the particular set of students.
If people want to talk more about a certain topic they’ll stop and go a little deeper, and if people seem to already have an area pretty well covered, they’ll buzz through it. I kind of liked this aspect of the live classes and found it to make better use of the limited time.
And just to be clear, for those students taking live sessions, if you miss a class, the video lessons of the on demand package (which you get access to) cover the same material. So for example, if you have to miss the live class covering Organic Chemistry, you can just watch the video lecture and catch up that night.
Whether the live classes are worth it, I would say, sort of depends on the type of student you are. For $300 more, I think they offer some real value. But again, it just depends.
If you’re self-motivated and driven to keep your studies on track, you’re probably good with the self-paced package. But if you need an extra push to stay accountable and on track, or maybe just want to ask questions or learn in a group environment, the live classes are super helpful. In that case, I’d probably say go for it, especially for just $300 more.
Kaplan PCAT Practice Tests & Questions
As mentioned, in total, you get somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,000 practice problems and 5 full-length practice exams. To me, the practice tests seemed very realistic. Not only do the problems themselves closely resemble real exam questions in terms of difficulty and content, but the interface does too. Kaplan does a great job of mocking up the real computer-based exam, right down to the look and placement of buttons, which I liked. This way there’s no surprises on test day.
In addition, the answer solutions that Kaplan provides with its practice work are pretty spot on. I found them to be comprehensive and insightful, though a little wordy at times. Sometimes I thought they almost over-explained things. I understand they have to set the stage and lay out the basics before building up to why a particular answer choice was wrong, but it almost would be better in some instances to assume we have a base-level knowledge.
But all in all, I’d much prefer overly-detailed too overly-brief. Plus, after a bit you do sort of find a rhythm for skim reviewing answer solutions to quickly confirm why you got it right or missed the problem. So I can’t really complain at all.
User Experience & Digital Platform
Apart from the production quality of Kaplan’s video lectures, I really liked the Kaplan platform. It’s clean, laid out simply, and very responsive. Everything is neatly organized into study modules through your personalized study plan and you’re clearly directed on what to study and when.
One small gripe might be that every time you open up a new video lesson or drill it opens open in a new browser tab. So by the time I was done, I had like 20 Chrome tabs open. Kind of annoying, but generally a small complaint I’d say. For the most part, I really liked Kaplan’s user experience and thought their digital platform was great.
Kaplan’s Higher Score Guarantee
For those wondering, Kaplan does offer a higher score guarantee. Essentially, if you use the full Kaplan course to study for the PCAT and don’t get a higher score than when you started, you get your money back (or can re-take the course if you’d like).
Scoring just 1 point better than a baseline score with no starting knowledge isn’t promising much, but it’s still a nice insurance policy nonetheless. Check the fine print for details, but it’s at least reassuring knowing Kaplan has your back if you bomb on test day.
Verdict: Kaplan PCAT Prep
Overall, I am a really big fan of the Kaplan PCAT prep course and can see why the AACP endorses them as the official prep provider. Their curriculum is really powerful, with strong video lessons, rock solid practice problems, and insightful review notes through the Kaplan lesson books. Plus, if you opt for the live classes, I found the Kaplan instructor I had to be really, really knowledgeable and offer some good strategies and advice.
I wasn’t thrilled by the format of Kaplan’s prerecorded video lectures, finding the production value to be just OK, and the problem explanations were almost over-explained at times, but by and large, the pros column far outweighs the cons with Kaplan. Their course is on the pricey side but I feel really confident in their prep materials. For students on the fence about going with Kaplan, they get my stamp of approval.
Are Kaplan PCAT tests harder?
Our team found Kaplan’s practice PCAT tests to be about on par with the real PCAT in terms of difficulty. Individual problems were at times harder and easier, but on average, we found the Kaplan tests to be about the same as the real PCAT.
Is Kaplan PCAT test prep worth it?
In our team’s opinion, yes, the Kaplan PCAT prep course is worth it. Between the solid video instruction, thousands of practice problems, and thorough books, it’s a strong prep package.
What is the Kaplan PCAT prep price?
Kaplan’s two PCAT prep options (self-paced and live online) cost approximately $900 and $1,200, respectively.