*If you click a link on this page and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more

Are MCAT Prep Courses Worth It? [ANSWERED]

Now that you’ve made up your mind to settle for a career in the healthcare sector, you should be ready for the MCAT exams as well.

Your score in the test will determine whether you get admitted to the medical school of your choice or not.

The best way to do that is to study smart.

And you can do it by yourself using MCAT prep books, face-to-face tutoring, live online courses, and enroll in an MCAT course or study in a group, among others.

Many students, however, often find themselves torn between using MCAT prep books and prep. courses.

Today we are going to give you an in-depth analysis of the MCAT prep courses; are they worth it?

Let’s find out together!

Should I take an MCAT prep course?

MCAT Prep options

First, I would like you to understand that there is no absolutely correct or incorrect way to prepare for your MCAT exam.

Just as we are all different, with various preferences, so are our ways of doing things.

So, let no one make you feel inferior for choosing a given method of study.

As already mentioned earlier, there are various ways of MCAT prep. And before I answer your question as to whether you should take the MCAT course or not, let’s look at the most common test prep ways;

Using Books

There are so many MCAT prep books in today’s market. So, to ensure you get the best, research well and choose only the ones that will meet your needs.

Books are the best way to familiarize yourself with MCAT. If you have a lot of preparation time, then getting the detailed ones such as the Kaplan MCAT Complete 7-book set or the Princeton Review MCAT 7-Book set will do you some great justice.

And if your budget allows, you can combine them with the Kaplan MCAT Flashcards and the MCAT Psychology and Sociology book.

But, if you’re working on limited time, then the Examcrackers MCAT Complete Package and the Sterling Test Prep Books, will come in handy. Remember, these are some of the best suggestions, and you can still find other useful books out there.

The secret is to find a great combination. Besides, these books are budget-friendly.

But, you have to be disciplined, without which you won’t gain much.

Test Prep Courses

These are the great prep online courses.  And a good one should help you with the structure and the correct schedule you require to prepare adequately for your upcoming test.

The courses come in handy, especially for individuals working in a tight time frame. For instance, if you’re working and have to study for the test.

But, let no one lie to you that you can only get the best out of your online course based on how much effort and time you allocate it.

The best part of online courses is that most of them are flexible enough to allow students to study at a convenient time. All this, thanks to the availability of videos.

They are also quite affordable, and most of them come with full-length practice tests to help you identify your weak areas.

But, be ready with a reliable source of the internet as you will require it to log into these various sources.

Some of the best MCAT prep online courses include the Kaplan, Princeton, Magoosh, among others.

If you have time and some extra cash, you can opt to combine these online courses with books. Some students confess that this worked best for them.

Remember, each course comes with different content, study time, and, of course, cost. So, take the time to compare and choose the one that best suits your needs.

I find these courses ideal for well-dedicated individuals who can do well on their own and can pay attention to details.

Tutoring

Nowadays, tutoring can either be done online or face to face. But in this case, I will be concentrating on the face-to-face tutoring sessions.

Sometimes you need an outsider to give you an honest opinion of your strengths and weaknesses.

And this isn’t to say that you can’t find them out yourself, but sometimes you can misjudge yourself.

Also, having a tutor means you get someone to consult with on whatever content you’re not sure about.

Some students find it better to combine a tutor with self-study using books, and this has perfectly worked for them.

You can, for instance, decide for 2-weekly meetings with your tutor, where you discuss what you’ve gone through the previous days and also the outcome of your weekly full-length exams.

However, if you decide to work with a tutor in your preparation for the MCAT, then, by all means, pick a qualified one.

Someone with experience and good reviews can make an excellent instructor.

You can ask around for recommendations from family and friends who have gone-through such or check online for some reviews.

Some renowned test prep companies such as Kaplan and Princeton regularly hold in-person boot camps where you can enroll for lecture classes at centers near you.

To check out if they have centers near your location/city, just head to their websites and type your pin location for a quick search.

One thing you should know about face-to-face tutoring is that it doesn’t usually come cheap. In fact, it’s the most expensive when you compare it with books and online classes.

But, the pricing also differs depending on the numbered sessions you want, hours involved, and of course, content to be covered.

But this shouldn’t be a problem if you have enough cash and aren’t disciplined enough to study on your own efficiently.

Live Online Course

The combination of online and live is excellent, right?

Well, if you would love to attend physical tutoring classes but can’t make it due to some avoidable circumstances, the closest you can come to such real classroom experiences is through live online courses.

These are courses, which run like a typical classroom session, only that they take place online.

So, you get a schedule and meet with other students (sometimes you can be alone) and the tutor for interactive learning sessions.

Here, you get to ask questions, take full-practice tests, and have takeaway homework, and much more.

But, you still have to play your role and present yourself to class when needed.

Most live online class providers have come-up with recorded class sessions for their students so that they can review whenever they miss the live sessions for one reason or the other.

However, these recordings shouldn’t be an excuse for skipping lessons. Remember, you’re the beneficiary, and if you take things lightly, then you stand to lose.

Some big test prep companies such as The Princeton and Kaplan, promise a full refund for their students in case they aren’t satisfied with their services. So, you can be sure that they offer legit services.

Like any other online class, you will require a reliable source of internet, a computer, or a tablet. And of course, a peaceful place where you can tune-into your online class without disturbance.

If this seems like a hard thing to do, then the other options (already discussed) come in handy.

Group Discussions

This option might not be popular, but it’s applicable, especially if you live near a group of students preparing for their MCAT tests.

In this case, you can come together and help each other out in discussing various MCAT prep content.

For best results, let each person go through specific content by themselves before meeting to discuss what you learned. The meetings can be once or twice a week, depending on your initial agreements.

But, to make the best out of this, ensure your group has fewer members. This way, it will be easy to manage, and the interaction will be tangible. A group of 2-5 individuals should be good enough.

Group discussions are also a great way of exchanging studying materials. For instance, you can encourage each member to invest in different useful prep resources, and then you exchange such that everyone gets to cover necessary details.

There you have it; the various options of MCAT prep.

So, what do you think? Are the MCAT prep courses worth it? Find the answer below;

Benefits of Taking an MCAT Course

Which one is best; Self-study or MCAR course?

You see, from the above discussions, it’s clear that MCAT prep courses are an excellent option for preparing for your MCAT test, especially if you have some extra cash to spend and wouldn’t mind additional review content.

But, if you’re working on a tight budget and can’t afford a course, then you can get a set of books and self-study. You will still pass!

Remember, whatever the case, it’s your dedication that matters. And to make a perfect choice, outline your goals and assess the time you have before the exams.

If you have a definitive time frame and the test date in mind, then considering taking the course won’t be a bad idea.

That said, here are some of the benefits of the MCAT prep courses, in case you want to enroll;

More content; and by this, I mean you gain access to more online material, which loosely translates to more practice. And the more you practice, the more confident you become.

Accountability; since you feel the pitch of paying for a service, you would want to make the best out of it.

And that will push you into being accountable for every minute spent on the course.

Ready Schedule; most of these courses come with a personalized study schedule for their students. So, it will help you plan, which is helpful, especially if you’re bad at it.

Access to instructors; this largely depends on the study prep course you choose.

For instance, if you opt for the live online classes or live-in-person tutoring, then you can ask the tutors whichever questions you have and discuss other issues that you would have otherwise been difficult to handle by yourself.

Exam taking tips; this is especially true if you have access to a tutor. Some suggestions aren’t available in books but can be passed on orally.

Those tutors have years of experience in helping students get ready for their MCAT exams. Therefore, take everything they say seriously.

When should you take an MCAT prep course?

While it’s true that the choice of taking an MCAT course remains entirely yours, you should always be flexible for reconsideration depending on several factors;

This includes whether you have enough cash to spend or not. But, the most important of them all is whether you’re a faster learner or not, also, if you have sufficient time to prepare for the MCAT exam.

You see, if you are a slow learner and don’t have much time to go through all the necessary review content before exam day, then it’s only fair if you found a boost. And, which better way than enrolling for an MCAT prep course?

But, for this to work out, you should be willing to adjust accordingly. This is because an MCAT course won’t give you as much flexibility as you would give yourself during self-study.

So, you should think of taking an MCAT course when you’re free from other duties, like that demanding full-time, job and the like.

And this is the reason why most students prefer enrolling during summer as they have a lot of time in their hands. This can work for you too, that’s if your schedule usually is tight.

Also, some prep courses are quite intense. And these ones are best for individuals with limited time and can comfortably work under pressure.

A little warning, though, the intensive prep courses are too demanding, so your schedule will be mainly for that. But then, what you get is quality, thus worth the sacrifice.

As for the in-person prep courses, you can enroll for those if you love the interaction and have more time before exams.

Also, if you can’t self-motivate yourself to study, then this is when to take this course.

And then comes the live online prep courses, which are an ideal consideration when you need more content to boost your studies but can’t make it to a physical class.

Lastly, comes the self-paced prep courses, which are great for individuals who love flexibility. They are quite similar to self-study, only that you get more content.

You, however, have to be sharp enough to identify your weaknesses, but some companies offer customized content to suit your strengths and weaknesses.

How much do MCAT prep courses cost?

There’s different pricing for various MCAT prep courses.

Below is the pricing of the famous MCAT Courses;

  1. The Princeton Review MCAT Prep Course – $1,999-$2,799
  2. Kaplan MCAT prep Courses – $1,999-$2,799
  3. Blueprint MCAT – $1,799-$2,499
  4. Magoosh MCAT -$199
  5. Gold Standard MCAT -1,499

If the above doesn’t appeal to your needs, then a quick search online will give you more options.

Is MCAT self-prep legit?

Basing my argument on a large number of positive reviews I have read online concerning MCAT self-prep, I can say that it works.

Yes, it can help you pass the exam. But, you have to be dedicated and self-motivated., because no one will be following you around.

And most of the time, you will be accountable to yourself.

That said, it would be great if you can avoid all the pressure of trying to figure out everything by yourself by enrolling in a course.

Most of these courses come with a schedule and all the necessary materials you need to pass.

Plus, the fact that you got the support of highly qualified and experienced instructors is a plus.

Which MCAT prep course best?

  1. The Princeton Review MCAT Course ($1,999-$2,799)

Their courses have plenty of videos, online content, and full-length practice tests& questions. I also love their amplifier learning tool.

Also, the fact that they offer an MCAT test score guarantee (510+) shows how confident they’re about their services.

Their instructors are also experienced, well trained, which makes them an excellent pick in tutoring packages.

They could have, however, done better with a free trial option. Their content is also not represented in Flashcards.

  1. Kaplan MCAT Prep Course ($1,999-$2,799)

Kaplan offers multiple MCAT courses, which help students to align with their needs quickly. Their courses range from live online, in-person classes to on-demand self-paced courses.

They have an MCAT channel, which provides easy access to online classes, with their certified, experienced tutors.

Like The Princeton Review, they also offer a high score guarantee, such that students can repeat a program (free-of-charge) if they aren’t pleased with the outcome.

And they also have flashcards, which students can use on-the-go.

  1. Examkracker MCAT Prep Course ($995-$2,995)

Examkracker is not left behind when it comes to MCAT prep courses.

Their courses are either instructor-led or self-study.

They pride themselves with over 20 years of experience in the industry, and their instructors are proven and qualified.

They currently have more than 5,500 questions and passages, and lots of extras at no charge.

  1. Blueprint MCAT Prep Course ($1,799-$2,499)

Blueprint is famous for its excellent balance of quality, affordability, and quantity. And that’s not enough; students gain access to multiple features, among them being various free studying materials.

They also have a score increase guarantee as an indication of their trust in their services.

They offer various course choices, which makes it easy to work around your schedule.

I also love their dedication to offering numerous supplementary review materials to their students.
I would have, however, appreciated more if they offered flashcards, like Kaplan

  1. Magoosh ($199)

If an extensive course list is what you want, then Magoosh is here for you.

Plus, their materials are high-quality and give you a glimpse of how the real MCAT test looks like.

Their full-length practice tests are a bit tough, but with the help of the attached lessons, you can find your way through.

I find their study plans impressive, as they’re customized to meet student needs.

Plus, you get to enjoy a lot of support from the instructors via email.

But still, they could do better with more study materials.

  • Comparison table
Company Price Discount Full-length Exams Practice Questions Score Guarantee Flashcards Study Schedule
The Princeton Review ($1,999-$2,799) $400 13 1000 Yes No Yes
Kaplan ($1,999-$2,799) $150 20 1000 Yes Yes No
Examkracker ($995-$2,995) Not indicated 5200+ Yes No Yes
Blueprint ($1,799-$2,499) $300 15 4000 Yes No Yes
Magoosh ($199) $20 3 735 Yes Yes Yes

FAQs

How far in advance should you study for the MCAT?

Although it depends on the date of your exams and your schedule, it’s always advisable to start studying as early as six months before the exam date or 2-3 months before.

But, some individuals study for a month and manage to pass. So, what works for you should be your best.

Why is MCAT prep so expensive?

The primary reason as to why the MCAT prep is expensive is because the test prep companies are profit-making organizations, with expenses like any other company.

They need to pay their highly-trained and expensive instructors, get all the necessary top-notch review materials ready for you, and of course, comply with government regulations.

Generally, I would say that medical courses aren’t cheap.

Is Kaplan MCAT test prep worth it?

With the impressive balance of content and structure in the Kaplan MCAT prep, you can expect to review everything you need to pass the exams. So, yes, if you have the money, spend on it.

Is Next Step good for MCAT?

Most students find Next step’s online interface outstanding. They say it resembles a lot with the MCAT real test.

And although the passages might be a little tough, they’re great reviews.

So, yes, Next Step is good too. Especially their psychological section.

Is Khan Academy good for MCAT prep?

According to numerous reviews online, many students have used Khan Academy, and they love the content.

The best feature is the practice questions at the end of each video content.  So, you can use it as a supplement to strengthen your weaknesses.

Is Kaplan or Princeton Review better for MCAT?

This will highly depend on what you’re looking for. For instance, Kaplan gives student’s access to the Qbank, which is great for an in-depth review of various sections. It’s cheap and doesn’t take much of your time.

The main word here is basic review

But if you need to work with an instructor to cover all the deeper areas, then you will like The Princeton. Plus, there’re plenty of materials, so you won’t need to spend cash to get them.

We gave a comprehensive comparison between the two in our Kaplan vs. Princeton review article. Be sure to check it out.

Conclusion

For “tough” exams such as MCAT, studying isn’t an option, but a must-do. You have to plan your time to ensure you cover all the critical content before exam day.

This will not only give you confidence but also somehow guarantee you a place at the medical school of your choice.

While some individuals can study on their own, others do better with an MCAT prep course. Yes, you can pass without it, but it does make life studying easy.

This is especially useful when you’re running short of time or would want to understand concepts pretty fast.

So if you can afford one, don’t hesitate to invest.

John Reed
My name is John Reed and I am the chief editor of TestPrepPal.com. I am alumni of university of of Pennsylvania and want to help future graduates with their tests.

Leave a Comment