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Magoosh MCAT Prep Review
Our detailed and all-encompassing review of the Magoosh MCAT prep course
When applying to med school, your MCAT score is a top priority – and you’re going to need a good prep course to get that stellar score you’re after. However, med school is expensive enough as is, and you also don’t want to break the bank prepping for the admissions exam. Enter Magoosh, the budget friendly, bang-for-your-buck MCAT prep course that everyone is talking about. At roughly one-fifth the cost of some traditional MCAT prep courses, it is a very tempting study option. But is the Magoosh prep package good enough to get you where you want to go? We address that concern and more in this in-depth review.
Pricing is the category where Magoosh scores its biggest points. At right around $400, Magoosh’s Self-Paced MCAT course is a true bargain. In fact, compared to other test prep companies, Magoosh is an absolute steal.
Many students see the $400 price tag and assume that is the monthly subscription fee. WRONG. That is a one-time fee for a full 12 months of access to all of Magoosh’s online MCAT content. Even I wondered at first whether that could be right, when almost every other course out there costs $2,000+. But it’s true. Now, this begs the question of just how good the course can be for that cost, which we cover in detail below.
It should also be noted that Magoosh now offers a pretty unique “Study Accelerator” course option as well. For roughly $100 more ($500 total), you get the same Self-Paced package plus some guided study sessions alongside a cohort of other MCAT preppers. More on this below, but know that this is an option for those who want a little more hands-on guidance.
Course options and pricing current as of date of publication.
Evaluation of MCAT Curriculum and Coursework
The most pressing questions surrounding Magoosh’s MCAT course generally center on quality. The most common we usually see are something like “how good is the Magoosh MCAT course?” or “will it be effective in raising my score?”. I believe the answer to those questions depends on the type of student you are.
The Magoosh course is structured to provide a platform for students with a very independent approach to studying. Rather than having a rigorous curriculum where the test prep provider holds your hand every step of the way, Magoosh instead hands you the keys and lets you drive. They give you everything you need to succeed on the exam, but they don’t give you a detailed road map on how to get there. This will appeal to some students, while others may not like it so much.
I do not mean to imply that Magoosh gives you zero direction – they do provide suggested study schedules and recommended video lesson viewing orders. But overall, the structure of their curriculum is not as well-developed or strict as those offered by other test prep companies.
Structure aside, with respect to the quality of the lessons and coursework, Magoosh offers some surprisingly good content for the price. The video-based lessons act as the basis of your instruction and content review. They take the form of a fairly basic digital whiteboard with a voice-over and instructor notes. Essentially, it is like watching a fancy PowerPoint presentation with the instructor talking over the slides and making notes onscreen.
The production quality of these videos is lacking as compared to other MCAT test prep providers like Kaplan and Princeton Review. These other companies provide high quality, interactive videos with instructors appearing onscreen, and sharp graphics – things the Magoosh videos do not do. That said, the substantive material contained in Magoosh’s video lessons is very accurate and well-explained. The Magoosh instructors do an excellent job conveying complex concepts and providing some actionable tips.
I personally found the video lessons to be thorough and genuinely helpful, though dry and not so engaging. If you want all business, to-the-point instruction, you’ll love these lessons. I think though that these videos could benefit from some additional graphics, a cut of the instructor speaking onscreen every now again, and just some better overall video production quality. Engagement is a huge factor when consuming mass amounts of dense material, and I think these videos just lack that element.
In terms of scope of coverage, you get access to 380+ of these video-based lessons, covering a wide range of MCAT topics. Now I won’t go as far as to say the video instruction covers absolutely everything that could appear on the MCAT. Magoosh even states right on their website that they focus on “high-yield topics.” So if you think you are getting a completely comprehensive course that covers every nook and cranny of potential MCAT content, I wouldn’t count on it.
Magoosh also provides some neat ancillary features around their video lessons. Attached to each video, you get access to a digital notes tool, allowing you to take notes and save them for review later. These notes can be easily accessed from the dashboard of the Magoosh portal. You can also flag questions for easy return later. Additionally, below every video lesson is a transcript setting out the verbal lesson in text, along with a highlighted tracking feature showing where you’re at in the video. These functions help to bring up the overall quality and helpfulness of the video lesson experience.
Backing up their video instruction, Magoosh provides students access to over 740 practice questions. That is not many questions, particularly as compared to competitor Gold Standard MCAT Prep, which provides over 6,500 practice problems to students. Be that as it may, the quality of the practice questions, like the quality of the video lesson substantive content, is rock solid. All questions are written by Magoosh’s in-house MCAT experts and they do an excellent job mirroring real MCAT problems.
Accompanying each practice question is a text explanation, which breaks down the problem in detail and focuses in on why each answer choice is correct or incorrect. Overall, these text explanations are helpful, but are definitely not the most detailed I have seen. In my opinion, I would like to see the Magoosh team take a little deeper dive into the problem explanations, offering more graphics where necessary and additional detail beyond the problem at hand where appropriate. All things considered, however, these explanations are well-articulated and effective in terms of understanding each question.
The final feature of the Magoosh coursework worth mentioning is the custom practice tool. This function allows you to personalize quizzes by question type, difficulty, timing and mode. This is a very effective tool for targeting your areas needing improvement. For those students that like to learn by “doing,” these custom practice sets will be a blessing.
All in all, I was fairly impressed with the Magoosh curriculum, lessons and coursework. Though you only pay 1/5th the cost with Magoosh, you definitely do not get 1/5th the quality of study material. The video lessons are a bit basic and non-captivating, and the number of practice problems is lacking, but all things considered, this is a great value. The substantive content in both the video instruction and problem explanations is spot on, with much wider coverage than I expected. Self-motivated students could really benefit from the Magoosh coursework.
Wait, Where are the MCAT Prep Books?
It’s hardly a surprise that Magoosh does not provide prep books along with its MCAT prep course. At under $400, you can’t really expect the world. All of Magoosh’s content is online, and accessible from its digital portal.
In fact, this is part of Magoosh’s marketing campaign. Leave the hard copy books and three-ring binders behind – access your material online at any time, anywhere, on any device. Everything is right at your fingertips, just a couple clicks away. Magoosh targets young, modern students with a penchant for digital online content.
Nonetheless, we here at Test Prep Insight are big fans of printed prep books, and for many students trying to figure out which MCAT prep course is best for their needs, this will hurt. I personally love to dog-ear pages, highlight key points, and scribble notes in the margins. Plus, I like to have offline materials that I can haul to the beach or on the bus. But as mentioned, you can’t have it all with Magoosh – not at that price point.
Magoosh MCAT Practice Tests
Magoosh is a bit of an oddity when it comes to practice tests. If you read their website, it will tell you that you get “up to” 3 practice tests. What do you mean I get “up to” a certain number of tests? I either do or I don’t, right? No; not with Magoosh. Rather than having dedicated practice tests (like Kaplan and Princeton Review do), Magoosh robs the practice question bank to make its full-length practice tests. This means for every practice test that you take, you get fewer practice questions to work. We are not big fans of this structure.
We would much rather see Magoosh have a number (even a small number) of dedicated practice tests for which you don’t need to dip into the practice question pool. Basically, I want my cake and to eat it too. Still, because the practice tests come from the practice problems (which as previously mentioned are very high quality), you’re getting a first-rate practice exam. This helps ease the pain a little.
User Experience and Interface
Although considered a budget prep course, the user interface and user experience (UI/UX) of Magoosh’s digital platform is very, very good. This is likely a result of Magoosh focusing 100% of their attention on their online content; but in any event, I really like the Magoosh platform. It is smart, cleanly laid out, and snappy. The hover functionality is very sharp and the load speeds are great.
In addition, the Magoosh site is insanely easy to navigate. I’m fairly confident my three-year old nephew could work this portal with a few minutes of training. The header sections direct you right where you need to go, and the video lessons library is outlined in a very straightforward manner.
I personally like the dashboard as well. Where some test prep companies let the dashboard serve as a doormat with almost no functionality, Magoosh makes great use of the space. The dashboard contains suggested lessons, your study schedule, a performance tracker, and my favorite feature, “quick practice.” The quick practice tool allows you to jump straight into practice questions of a certain topic. You just click, and BOOM, you’re working a problem. All within 3 seconds of logging in. The quality and smart use of space on the Magoosh dashboard wins big points in my book.
So up until recently, Magoosh MCAT prep consisted of their mainstay self-paced study package and nothing more. However, to keep up with competitors, Magoosh just recently launched a fairly unique course option called their “Study Accelerator.” So here’s the deal: for an additional $100, you get placed into a study group of about 30 students and study alongside peers targeting the same general score, with the same general study availability. The idea is to accelerate your studying (and score gains) by giving you a support system of peers.
The cohort meets once per week with a Magoosh MCAT pro to establish a study schedule and keep everyone on pace. Then in between, there’s a Magoosh thread for students in the cohort to chat and ask questions, and generally bounce things off each other. Now here’s the million dollar question: is this worth the extra $100? Personally, I don’t think so.
I get the idea, right. You’re placed in a group with like-minded students seeking the same general score and encouraged to support each other throughout the process, all with a little guidance from a Magoosh expert along the way. However, in my opinion, this isn’t why you go for Magoosh over other MCAT prep companies. You go with Magoosh because their jam is self-driven, 100% online studying at a bargain price. It’s meant for students who want to hole up in their room and learn themselves through on demand study materials. At least that’s the way I see it.
I mean this “Study Accelerator” is not like real live MCAT classes. Don’t confuse that for a second. If that’s what you want, look to Blueprint or Princeton Review. But you’re probably not reading a review about Magoosh if that’s what you’re after.
All in all, if you’ve got an extra $100 to drop and feel like the support will help you stay motivated and on track, then by all means go for it. It’s only $100 in the grand scheme of things and having a support system can help. But if you’re thinking you’re going to get a bunch of extra insight and help through this Accelerator program, I’d think again.
Magoosh MCAT Resources
Upon clicking on the resources tab of Magoosh’s online portal, I was pleasantly surprised to see an abundance of extra resources available to students. Despite its budget label, Magoosh manages to offer its students some genuinely helpful tools outside of its core curriculum. Among these resources are:
Custom study plans (ranging from 1 month to 6 months)
Email support – 24/7
A detailed list of every MCAT topic covered
AAMC practice test explanations
MCAT blog articles
A periodic table
That is quite a few resources for a roughly $400 course. Though many carry only limited value (see the periodic table and topic list), a few do stand out as being truly assistive. My favorite of the bunch is easily the email support. If you ever get hung up while watching a video lesson or have a question about a practice problem explanation, you can shoot Magoosh an email and one of their MCAT experts will get back to you with a reply.
I tested this feature out, and Magoosh did not lie. I sent in an email with a CARS question around 5pm on a Thursday and by Friday at 3pm I had an answer. Not exactly lightning fast, but they met their stated time frame. Magoosh says they will respond with 1-2 business days and they were true to their word.
The response itself was also pretty good. The Magoosh expert forgot to answer one sub-question that was part of the email, but the response addressed everything else in great detail. I was very pleased with the reply email overall.
Does Magoosh have Private MCAT Tutoring?
The quick and dirty answer here is NO. Magoosh does not offer personalized, 1-on-1 MCAT tutoring to its students. Magoosh does, however, offer 24/7 email assistance to its students (as referenced above). This level of attention is not even close to the same as you would get with private tutoring, but if you just need a few questions answered, the email assistance may be all you need.
If you do want some special attention in a 1-on-1 setting though, we would highly recommend checking out Altius MCAT Prep’s tutoring packages. This is a separate service from a different company, but Altius offers some stellar private tutoring from MCAT gurus.
This is a really straightforward subject. Whether you go with the flagship Self-Paced course or the new Study Accelerator package, you get 12 months of access to Magoosh’s online materials. 12 months should be plenty of study time for most every student.
Does Magoosh Have an MCAT Mobile App?
Not only does Magoosh have a mobile app, they actually have two apps (both available for iPhone and Android). The first mobile app is a series of MCAT flashcards spanning an impressive number of topics. These flashcards provide some nice quick-hit refreshers for when you’re on the go. Because the MCAT is such a content heavy exam, extra opportunities for memorization are always appreciated.
The second app allows access to your Magoosh video lessons through your account. You can watch over 250 of your Magoosh video-based lessons right from your phone, wherever you are (assuming you have internet). This is a great way to sneak in some extra study time when you have a few minutes between classes or before a shift at work.
I personally found both apps to be surprisingly good. I was not expecting much, so to discover that there two apps and that both offered genuine value, I was pleasantly surprised. The flashcard app in particular was very useful.
Magoosh’s Score Improvement Guarantee
Magoosh offers a whopping +10 point score increase guarantee with the purchase of your MCAT prep course. This is a really generous guarantee, especially when sized up next to guarantees from other test prep companies. A 10-point jump on the MCAT is huge, so to guarantee an increase of that magnitude is impressive.
Now, the Magoosh guarantee does carry some strict requirements (e.g. must have already taken MCAT before), and they would only be losing $400 or so if they are forced to refund the amount. However, it is still a very liberal guarantee that we were quite pleased with.
Magoosh’s General Refund Policy
Not only does Magoosh offer a liberal score increase guarantee, they also give students a very generous window in which to get a 100% tuition refund. If you purchase a Magoosh MCAT prep package and are not totally satisfied with it, you can request a refund of 100% of your cost if you email them within 7 days. This is a nice safety net for those students on a budget and nervous about choosing the wrong prep course.
Verdict: Magoosh MCAT Prep Course Review
The Magoosh MCAT prep course could be a real game changer in the MCAT test prep space – depending on the type of student you are. If you are self-motivated, prefer learning alone at your own pace, and fancy video lessons, Magoosh may be a great fit for your MCAT prep needs. Their 380+ video lessons, while on the dry side, are very thorough and expertly communicated. In addition, you get access to some high-quality practice problems, along with succinct, yet effective problem explanations.
The overall number of practice questions is low, but this might not be an issue for you, if you are alright with fewer problems to work. At its core, Magoosh is a high value, bang-for-your-buck course that will be well suited for some students, but not others. For those who aren’t afraid to drive their own learning and who like flexibility in watching video lessons and working practice problems, you may not need to look further than Magoosh.
Magoosh is able to offer low price points on its MCAT prep because there are no prep books or live online classes, both of which save Magoosh money. In turn, they pass it on to their students in the form of cost savings.
Are the Magoosh MCAT video lessons good?
In our opinion, the Magoosh MCAT video-based lessons, while they are a little dry, are very thorough and effective. They cover a wide range of MCAT topics and are genuinely very helpful.
Will Magoosh MCAT prep raise my score?
Very likely yes. Not only do we highly rate the Magoosh MCAT prep materials, Magoosh is also so confident in its course that they offer a money back score increase guarantee.