If you’re reading this, then you must be a student preparing for your MCAT exam.
And most probably, you’re feeling a little pressured about the entire process and would like some help on the dos and don’ts.
Well, we are here for you. And we will help you get rid of that intimidating feeling that has been lingering in your mind lately.
One of the most popular questions I hear often is, “how many practice tests should I take before MCAT?”
This article seeks to give you answers to that question. Read on!
How Many Practice Before Taking the MCAT?
First, I would like you to know that practice tests play a huge role in determining your MCAT score.
So, no matter how much you “hate” exams, you really have no choice but to take these.
Well, unless you plan to fail because there won’t be any use of you studying content when you can’t weight yourself to see if you’re grasping anything or not.
And the practice tests are your weighing scale in your MCAT prep journey.
Remember, it’s these tests that will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses so that you know which study areas deserve more attention.
Now that you have understood the importance of MCAT prep test, here comes the giant question;
How many of those tests do you actually require before the real exam?
What’s the minimum number of practice tests that’s an absolute must?
I know you’re eagerly waiting for me to give you an absolute number right away. Like 2, 3, or even 5-10.
Sorry to break the bubble, but I have to stress this first; the answer depends on your needs as a student. Not everyone is the same.
That said, no matter how good of a student you feel/know you’re, you should at least take three practice tests before the MCAT exam. And by this, I mean official AAMC practice tests.
You can quickly get these on the AAMC website.
So, if, for some reason, you can’t bring yourself to take the different full-length practice tests offered by various test prep companies such as Kaplan, Princeton, and Examkrackers, among others, then you must ensure to choose the AAMC ones.
This is the least you can do, for you to claim that you’re ready for the real exam.
What’s the perfect number of largely sufficient practice tests for MCAT?
When it comes to exam revision, there is really nothing like too much studying. And on that note, practice tests can be as many as you want.
But, due to time constraints and the average preparation time before the MCAT test being 3-6 months, you can’t stretch yourself too much. So, 7-10 practice tests are considered sufficient, on the extreme end.
Remember, the number of tests you need to do mainly depends on how hard or easy you find the standardized ones.
For instance, if you can handle them with ease, then you will find yourself being comfortable with around 4-5.
But, if they seem tough to handle, then you might have to take 7-10.
The secret here is to allow yourself to feel adequately prepared by getting as many answers as possible, correctly.
There’s a given percentage of confidence that comes with knowing you can handle questions within the designated time frame.
An average student should at least handle 5-6 practice tests. This will ensure they’re adequately prepared for the real MCAT test.
The best way to balance the practice tests is by taking at least three from AAMC and adding another three from a test prep company of your choice.
Check out our “are MCAT prep courses worth it” article for the list of the top test prep companies.
When to know you are ready for the test?
First, like every other /major exam, you will never feel absolutely ready for your MCAT exam.
There will always be that lingering feeling that there’s something you haven’t done right. Or a topic you still need to go through, again, and many other /pop-up mixed feelings.
Most students confess to ‘have doubted their readiness on real test day, even after months of preparation and covering every critical section.
So, the next time you find yourself feeling this way, know you aren’t alone.
But, there are still some compelling ways you can use to evaluate your preparedness for the test. We are going to look at a few;
How many practice tests have you taken?
I am not going to talk much about the importance of practice tests, because we already covered that in the above section.
So, I am assuming by now you should be aware of the correct amount of practice tests you should take before the real exam. And if you have taken 5-10, then you should feel ready.
The tests should have provided you with enough review content to give you a glimpse of how the real MCAT patterns.
And even though the test keeps changing from year to year, it’s the pattern of setting that matters. You should be able to apply what you have studied to answer various questions, no matter how cunning they seem.
So, you can’t take one practice test and confidently say you’re ready. Maybe the 3 AAMC tests will make you feel a bit prepared, but to be on the safe side, push yourself to at least five practice tests.
Any progress with your test scores?
You can’t know your strengths and weaknesses without evaluating your full-length practice tests score.
The best way to evaluate your score is by separating them by section. This is because ‘overall ratings can be deceiving, and you won’t get the real picture of your weakest areas.
If you pay attention to each section, you can confidently compare the scores from the 1st practice test to the current.
A positive rating should have the curve going up and not downward or flat.
When you find yourself feeling pleased and content with your scores, then it can only mean that you’re ready for the test because you can’t be pleased with a score that doesn’t reflect your target score.
You can even carry out a simple readiness exercise by allocating yourself actual marks (in each section) of what you’re confident of scoring if faced by the real test, at that particular moment.
This should give you an idea of what could be your best score. And you should know which areas need last-minute practice than others.
What’s your best ever MCAT practice test score?
Take a look at your best sections score and add them up to come up with an overall score.
Afterward, evaluate the scores and try to figure out what you did differently during those tests that contributed to the good scores. It could be that you were more relaxed, had taken sufficient time preparing, among other factors.
Now, ask yourself these questions;
Can this score get me a place in medical school? If yes, I am ready to create these best environments during the real test to boost my performance? If your answer is an absolute yes, then you’re so for the MCAT “beast.”
But, if you aren’t pleased with the score and can’t even think of using it to apply for a slot in your dream medical school. And, it happens that the real exam is only one or two weeks away, then you really aren’t ready and should consider postponing your test for more preparation.
Should I be worried about a downward trend in my MCAT practice tests?
Studying days are never the same. And so are test-taking days.
So, if for one reason or the other you find yourself scoring “poorly” for a couple of days, but had in the past managed to score your ever best score in each section, no need to worry.
You can still go up and crack the exam, if only you realize your mistake, rectify and come-back with full force. The fact that you scored excellently once means you can do it again. So, you can go ahead and get ready for the real test.
But if your graph has been downward for a couple of weeks and you have never hit your best ever score.
Then you really aren’t ready for the test. Well, not unless you want to repeat it, something that I wouldn’t advise.
It’s always better to push back the date of the exam and get sufficient time to prepare than take it, fail and repeat.
Are the MCAT Practice Tests Accurate?
According to the numerous positive reviews on the internet, the AAMC practice tests are great predictors for the MCAT real test. So, you should pay close attention to the scores as most individuals add or lose a few points in the main exam.
Well, that’s as long as you continue taking more tests and remaining confident during the real test.
They are great for preparation, and if your effort is great and you manage to score 510+, then you can be sure to score 520+ in the actual exam.
Currently, they offer 9 official prep sets,2 official prep print products, 5 official full-length practice exam, and 4 official prep bundle.
And I would advise you to at least ensure you take 3 full-length tests, each in one full sitting, so that you get an idea of how long you can tackle the actual test.
Also, take the full-length tests as close as possible to the real exam date.
You can interphase the other study prep tests and questions throughout your study period for adequate preparation.
Best MCAT Free Online Practice Tests
Creating time to take MCAT prep tests is planning for a good score in the real test.
If you’re on a budget and won’t mind some free online practice tests to help you save some cash, here is a list of some of the best out there;
- Blueprint Free MCAT Practice Test Bundle
The practice test is one of the best that you can find out there from ma reputable test prep company.
It includes a full-length exam, extra content from the Blueprint MCAT course, and ½ length diagnostic exam.
With it, you will also gain access to the daily MCAT question-of-the-day newsletter (free).
And that’s not all; you can also access the 90-minute MCAT Verbal Strategy course (free)
Combining this with other revision materials will give you adequate preparation.
- The Princeton Review Free MCAT Practice Exam
The full-length test will give you an idea of how the actual exam looks. Plus, you gain access to extra MCAT prep trials (free)
- Kaplan Free Practice Test
If you want a detailed score assessment and wouldn’t mind receiving some tips on exam-taking strategies, complete with a 3.5 hours online MCAT practice tests, then you better hurry to the Kaplan website and enjoy them all, free of charge!
With this, you also access to a 20-minutes MCAT workout (free), daily question-of-the-day segment, and other practice test quizzes.
- Test Prep Review MCAT Practice Test
This website offers numerous MCAT practice questions (free), which provide an excellent foundation for students to test their concentration skills and exam-taking stamina.
- Varsity Tutors Free Online MCAT Practice Test
If you’re sourcing out for free practice tests for all the 4 sections of the MCAT exam, then you better head to the Varsity Tutors website.
They offer tons of FREE diagnostic tests and, of course, the practice tests, as mentioned earlier.
The tests are an excellent way to familiarize yourself with the commonly asked questions, which you can use to weigh your strengths and weaknesses.
Note; although these free test practice questions are great, I wouldn’t advise you to depend on them for your test prep solely.
Instead, focus on using them as a boost to the study materials you have.
Also, the above list isn’t absolute, so feel free to search out for other free test websites and make your study time as favorable as possible.
From the above arguments, it’s clear that the number of practice tests you require before the MCAT test depends on your individual needs.
That said, the least number of practice tests you should take should be 3(most preferably the AAMC ones), the most sufficient being 7-10, and the average being 5-6.
To .be sure of your standing, examine the best score of each section and add them up to give you your best ever score.
If you’re pleased with it and can use it to apply for a slot at the medical school of your choice, then you’re ready for the real test!