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Khan Academy MCAT Review

Our detailed review of the MCAT prep course from Khan Academy and how it compares to Kaplan

In the ever-changing world of standardized test preparation, Khan Academy’s MCAT prep course distinguishes itself by offering helpful, free resources to meet student’s needs. On the other hand, Kaplan provides a structured, white-glove approach with an abundance of study materials and a proven track record of score improvement. This article explores the strengths and weaknesses of both courses, providing a comparative analysis to help aspiring doctors make an informed decision.

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How The Khan Academy MCAT Course Works

First and foremost, it’s completely free to sign up for the Khan Academy MCAT course – you don’t have to pay a cent, which is obviously fantastic.

The course itself is divided into 15 learning units, each containing between 3 to 30 lessons on various topics like enzyme kinetics, the muscular system, sensory perception, and more.

khan academy mcat course
A look inside the Khan Academy MCAT course

Each lesson includes text explanations, short videos, and quizzes. Some lessons are fairly short, around 10 minutes, while others can take over 30 minutes. Overall, it’s a straightforward course that’s easy to follow and navigate.

Evaluation Of Khan Academy’s MCAT Study Materials

Next, let’s compare Khan Academy’s MCAT lessons and study materials to Kaplan’s. This comparison will highlight the major differences between these two prep companies, helping you decide which one is best suited for your MCAT preparation.

Video Lessons

First, Kaplan definitely has the edge in terms of video lessons. To be honest, I found Khan Academy’s videos to be pretty average.

While the content, testing strategies, and tips are solid, the videos themselves feel like a college professor’s presentation from the 1980’s (i.e. they are not very engaging).

khan academy mcat lesson
Example video lesson from Khan Academy

In contrast, Kaplan’s video lessons are the exact opposite. The instructors appear on-screen, and the videos are filled with a rich variety of pictures, graphs, drawings, formulas, and other graphics that make it easy to understand and retain concepts. This format creates a very engaging lesson that grabs and holds your attention.

Kaplan MCAT Video Lecture
Example video lesson from Kaplan

In fact, I believe Kaplan offers some of the best video lessons in the entire MCAT prep industry (along with Blueprint MCAT).

Live Instruction

Next, Kaplan also wins when it comes to live classes, and this is an easy call since Khan Academy doesn’t offer any live classes, office hours, workshops, or webinars.

Bottom line, if you’re the type of student who prefers learning through live instruction, interacting with other test takers, and asking your instructor questions on the fly, Kaplan is the clear choice.

Even their entry-level On-Demand course includes unlimited access to livestream workshops, which are pretty awesome.

MCAT Practice Tests

Next, let’s discuss practice questions and practice tests. Both Kaplan and Khan Academy offer students access to over 3,000 practice questions, which is great.

However, Khan Academy falls short when it comes to practice tests – and by a wide margin. They don’t provide any full-length simulated exams of their own, only directing students to the two free practice tests from the AAMC.

khan academy mcat question
MCAT practice question from Khan Academy

Kaplan, on the other hand, offers 17 full-length practice exams. This is significant because taking and reviewing practice tests is often where students achieve their biggest gains.

Having 15 additional practice runs with Kaplan is a major advantage. Practice tests help you identify areas of weakness, allowing you to adjust your study plan, and build familiarity with the test format and timing, which reduces stress and strengthens confidence for the actual exam.

MCAT Prep Books

Finally, and while this might not be a major consideration for some students, Kaplan also provides its students with a 7-book subject review bundle, allowing for convenient studying.

Kaplan MCAT books
MCAT prep books from Kaplan

In contrast, Khan Academy offers no printed materials (everything is online). Therefore, if you’re a busy student involved in sports, have a part-time job, or simply need the flexibility to study at a moment’s notice, Kaplan’s hardcopy prep books are certainly advantageous.

Additionally, Kaplan offers two mobile apps for MCAT students, adding to the convenience of their study resources.

CARS Strategies

Next, I must commend Khan Academy for its excellent work on the CARS (Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills) section, which is often challenging for many students.

Jennifer Riley, a cognitive scientist, leads this section for Khan Academy and teaches you how to analyze what’s being tested, decode the passage’s underlying message, avoid trap answers, and employ other effective strategies for efficiently tackling the CARS section.

In summary, I appreciate the strategies Jennifer teaches and believe they provide significant value.


This category is pretty cut and dry. Khan Academy is completely free, whereas Kaplan’s MCAT courses come at a cost – and they’re not cheap. For instance, Kaplan’s entry-level On-Demand course has an MSRP of nearly $2,000.

However, it’s important to note that this comparison is a bit like comparing a public bus to a Mercedes; Kaplan’s MCAT course is much more comprehensive and effective.

Additionally, Kaplan provides sales and special promotions throughout the year, so it’s worth checking for discounts and deals. The company usually offers at least 10% off, if not more, so there’s a good chance you can save some serious money.

For those of you seeking a budget MCAT course, you may want to check out Magoosh. Their MCAT course costs less than $400, and is packed with valuable study resources.

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Verdict: Is Khan Academy Good For MCAT Prep?

By this point, it’s probably evident that I believe Kaplan offers the more effective prep course. I understand their courses are pricey, but they outperform Khan Academy in nearly every important category – quality of video lessons, live classes, practice tests, prep books, mobile apps, the list goes on and on.

Therefore, if you’re serious about achieving a high score on the MCAT and getting accepted into a top-tier medical school, I highly recommend investing in one of Kaplan’s courses.

However, I do see Khan Academy as a valuable supplementary resource. You can sign up for free and focus on completing the lessons that cover topics you find challenging, like the CARS section, for example. That’s the approach I would personally take if I were preparing for the MCAT.

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How many hours is the Khan Academy MCAT course?

To complete the entire MCAT prep course from Khan Academy, it should take you around 450 hours. If you include the two free practice tests from AAMC, the total time is closer to 465 hours.

Is Khan Academy MCAT prep enough to score high?

While Khan Academy’s MCAT prep course provides a solid foundation, most students will likely need additional study materials to achieve a high score. Supplementing with other resources can help strengthen areas of weakness and provide a more comprehensive preparation for the exam.

Are Khan Academy MCAT practice questions good?

Yes, Khan Academy’s MCAT practice questions are highly regarded for their realism. They are sourced from the AAMC, the creators of the MCAT exam, ensuring that students are exposed to questions that closely mirror those they will encounter on test day.

How should I use Khan Academy for MCAT prep?

Khan Academy should be used as a supplementary tool alongside a more comprehensive MCAT course, such as those offered by Kaplan. While Khan Academy provides valuable resources, including practice questions and video lessons, combining it with a more robust course can enhance your preparation and improve your chances of scoring well on the MCAT.