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Prep101 MCAT Review
After having a chance to take this course and do a full-scale review, we share our thoughts on the Prep101 MCAT course
Relatively unknown compared to the likes of Kaplan and Princeton Review, Prep101’s MCAT course has been generating a lot of buzz in MCAT circles recently. With a strong curriculum based around live online classes, infusion of the legendary Examkrackers study guides, and guidance from a 1:1 MCAT coach, Prep101 sounds great on paper. But is this MCAT course worth it? We answer just that question and share our thoughts in this detailed review.
As this is a lengthy and detailed review, use the jump-to links above to skip ahead to the section you’d like to read.
Video Review: Is Prep101 MCAT Worth It?
In the above video, team member John provides full coverage of our thoughts on the Prep101 MCAT course, including discussion of program effectiveness, live class structure, pricing, and more. For more detail, simply continue reading below.
Prep101 MCAT Program: How It Works
Let’s kick this review off by breaking down how the Prep101 course is structured and what the classes look like. This will give you a basic idea of the day-in and day-out of this course, and provide some context for my thoughts.
From a high level, the backbone of this prep course is the series of live classes, with some other study tools and components wrapped around it.
And here’s what I mean by that. Before class, you’re given an assignment, which generally consists of reading a chapter from the Examkrackers study guide, as well completing 20 to 30 practice problems. Sometimes it’s fewer questions or none at all, and sometimes it’s just a partial chapter to read, but on average, you’re looking at one chapter and about 24 questions.
Then you have the actual class, which is going to be the heart and soul of your learning with Prep101. The live classes take place over Zoom and are led by a team of specialists, so you’ll generally have different instructors depending on the topic.
The classes are 4 hours long, but are broken out into 2 separate segments. The first half of the class is the lecture, where your instructor will deliver the content review portion of the lesson.
These lessons track with the classroom companion workbooks that Prep101 gives you, which are filled with detailed notes. And to be clear, the lecture isn’t just a teacher talking at you for 2 hours – they’re usually sprinkled with tons of practice problems to demonstrate key points being made.
Then the second half of each class is a practice session. These segments of class time are generally used to do an in-class exam (called an ICE).
These are usually given two ways: (1) some you’ll work on own under timed conditions like a real section of the MCAT, with a detailed review of each question afterwards; and (2) for others, your instructor will just walk you through the entire exam slowly, dissecting passages and teaching you hacks and strategies for leveling up you score.
Then after class you’ll jump over to the AAMC Prep Hub to work assigned questions in the AAMC Question Pack or AAMC Section Bank that cover the same topics covered in the lesson and ICE. And that’s generally how the live classes and assigned work around them go.
However, there are 4 general components that revolve around this core of classes: optional work; CARS workshops; practice exams; and meetings with your MCAT coach. On the first point of optional work, if you feel so inclined because you have free time, or perhaps want to improve on your weak spots, Prep101 gives you optional assignments for each class.
This comes in 2 forms: (1) short video lessons and (2) extra practice sets. The video lessons are short, on-demand videos that each cover very narrow subtopics. For example, say you’re struggling with the function of the pancreas, and just want a 5-minute, quick-hit video breaking that down.
This is exactly what these videos are for – narrow, deep dives for extra coverage. Then there’s the bonus practice work, which is just like it sounds. This is simply optional practice sets covering material from that class.
The second component wrapped around the main course curriculum is the series of CARS workshops. Due to the uniqueness of the CARS section, Prep101 offers 12 separate two-hour CARS workshops that are interspersed throughout the length of the course.
Next, you’ve got practice exams. In total, Prep101 gives you access to 20 full-length practice tests: 5 from Examkrackers, 5 from the AAMC, and 10 from Altius.
Like the CARS workshops, these take place throughout the duration of the course, usually set at intervals based on discussion with your MCAT coach.
And on that point, MCAT coaching is actually the final component wrapped around the class work. With Prep101, you get assigned an MCAT coach you helps guide you through the course.
They’ll help fine tune your study plan and schedule, make sure you’re making progress, and answer any particularly difficult question types that keep tripping you up. This is something you don’t get with most other MCAT courses (not even the ones from Princeton Review) and is a pretty big value add.
So that’s the Prep101 MCAT course in a nutshell. You get a series of live online classes with assigned homework before and after, surrounded by other features and facets, such as MCAT coaching, bonus work, practice exams and workshops.
Pricing & Course Options
Before we dive into my thoughts, let’s quickly cover Prep101’s pricing, as it’s an important topic and will help provide some additional context. And this is actually pretty simple. Prep101 offers only one course format, and at one standard price: $2,300.
Putting this in perspective, that’s right in line with the prices of the live online courses from Kaplan, Princeton Review, Blueprint, and Altius. They’re all within a couple hundred bucks of each other.
Prep101 isn’t significantly cheaper or more expensive. However, it is worth noting that Prep101 does sometimes run special sales and promotions, so be sure to check for coupon codes before buying.
One additional note worth calling out is that Prep101 offers an unlimited free repeat policy with no questions asked.
In other words, if you don’t get your target score and want to hit the redo button, you retake their course as many times as you’d like for free. This is something we haven’t see other major MCAT prep providers offer.
If you are seeking a more affordable prep course, be sure to check out our review of the Magoosh MCAT course, which costs less than $400.
What We Like About The Prep101 MCAT Course
Now that we’ve covered pricing, as well as what the Prep101 lessons and program are all about, let’s get into what I like and what I don’t like about Prep101 after using this course. And let’s start with the things I really like.
Thorough Content Coverage
I absolutely love the thoroughness of this course. Prep101 hits you with everything: live classes, on-demand supplemental video lessons, assigned readings, practice sets, practice exams, MCAT coaching, and a bunch more.
Honestly, when I was first saw the roster of study materials, I was shocked by the level of depth. This course is definitely not for the faint of heart, but if you’re committed to getting a top tier MCAT score, you’re going to be hard pressed to find a more comprehensive package.
Rock Solid Written Materials
When you sign up with Prep101, they’re going to ship you out a giant box of books (seriously, it weighs like 50 pounds). And while it’s a lot, it’s all really good stuff.
Not only do you get the Examkrackers study guides and practice work (which I’m a huge fan of), but they also hook you up with these awesome class companions and annotated notes that make following the lectures incredibly easy and the material digestible.
Live Class Format & Structure
The structure of the live classes is superb. I love this classic framework of assigned reading and practice questions, followed by live classes with lecture and guided practice work, then assigned homework post-class.
It’s a classic and effective teaching method, just like you’re used to from college. And when you spread the work segments over multiple days like they suggest, it definitely juices up your retention.
On the whole, the Prep101 instructors are fantastic. They know their stuff inside and out from a substantive perspective, and they’re great communicators to boot.
I found them to be down to earth, realistic about expectations, and willing to go with the flow of the class to make sure everyone understands. Bottom line, I was a big fan of their core group of instructors.
What We Don’t Like About Prep101
Now that we’ve covered my pros, let’s flip sides and talk about the things I wasn’t crazy about with Prep 101.
While I like the thoroughness of this course (as discussed above), it is very intense. You have three class sessions per week on average, and if you follow their recommendation of spreading out pre-class work, actual class, and post-class homework across three separate days, the middle of the week can become kind of crazy.
You might have to do homework from an organic chemistry class session the day before, then attend class for a physics session, then pre-read for the following day’s bio class. In short, it can just be a lot.
While you can technically push some of the post-class homework back to the weekend if you want, if you’re really trying to stay on point and keep up, it’s intense. If you’re up for the challenge, it is absolutely an effective structure, but as mentioned above, it’s not for the faint of heart.
Though, one sort of mitigating factor here is that Prep101 utilizes a flexible live class format. Meaning they offer 4 versions of the same class each day – one in each of the morning, afternoon, evening, and night. Thus, you can attend whichever class makes the most sense for your daily schedule.
While this doesn’t affect the overall workload, being able to control the timing of your day does make your day-to-day studying more manageable. Again, it’s still intense, but this is a facet of this course that helps in this respect and thought I would call out.
Slow Moving Problem Solution Videos
In your student portal, Prep101 gives you close to 200 on-demand videos of instructors solving problems from the AAMC Question Packs and AAMC Section Bank. These are intended to help you review your post-class homework assignments.
The only issue, however, is that while I like that these supplemental problem solutions are offered, they’re just a little slow moving. Don’t get me wrong, they’re thorough and effectively break down the questions, but they are just tedious.
For whatever reason, compared to the way your instructor solves problems during the guided practice sessions in class, they just move at a glacial place and are kind of boring. This can just be a little annoying when you’re trying to get through your review sessions quickly.
Verdict: Prep101 MCAT Course Review
That’s all I have for you in the way of detail in this review, so let’s get to the final verdict. Should you use Prep101 for your MCAT prep? Well, personally, I think Prep101 is a really strong option after having the chance to review it.
Between their immersive live classes, detailed written materials, MCAT coaching, and solid teaching framework, there’s a lot to like.
I do have a couple minor grievances with this package, including the glacial pace of the on-demand problem solution videos and how intensive the days can get mid-week, but by and large, I think Prep101 is an effective MCAT prep package and a safe choice.
In the end, our team gives them very high marks (on par with competitors Kaplan and Princeton Review). For people looking for a comprehensive MCAT prep option with structured classes, we really like Prep101.