By Tech Powered Dad | February 17, 2020
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Here are the best MCAT prep courses of 2020:
- Best Online MCAT Course: Princeton Review 510+
- Best Classroom MCAT Course: Princeton Review 510+
- Best MCAT Intensive: Kaplan
- Best MCAT Tutoring: Varsity Tutors
- Best MCAT Prep Book: Kaplan
Admission to medical school opens up a career path that is intellectually stimulating, beneficial to society, and financially rewarding. However, with each passing year, the number of applicants to med school increases. In the last decade, the number of applicants has grown by 10,000, a 25% increase, according to the AAMC. In addition to the 4-year record you build as an undergraduate student, one of the most important factors in admission to medical school is your MCAT score. The median MCAT score is a 500. As you can see from the plot above, a 500 won’t give you a very good chance of admission. With so much pressure to be “above average” in order to gain medical school acceptance, it is no wonder that many students turn to MCAT prep services in order to improve their scores and, in turn, their chances of admission. The good news is that an improvement of just a few additional points on the MCAT can have a big impact on the your chances for admission. Let’s take a look at what some of the leading services have to offer.
Best Online & Classroom Courses: Princeton Review
Most students prepping for the MCAT will be looking for an online or in-person prep class. While Princeton Review offers a wide vary of good MCAT prep classes including their Ultimate and Self-Pace programs, they recently rolled out a very appealing new MCAT review program, their MCAT 510+. With the MCAT 510+ courses, Princeton Review guarantees the test taker will achieve at least a 510 on the MCAT, subject to completing the entire course and other restrictions. Obviously, Princeton Review has selected the number 510 strategically from students that have gone through their review classes in the past. They know how effective their class is in raising scores for students and are choosing a number they believe they can get their students to. But what does that number mean in terms of getting into med school? Moving your score just a few points on the MCAT has a very dramatic impact.
- In 2019, a 500 on the MCAT was the 49th percentile
- A 510 was the 81st percentile
- A 515 was the 92nd percentile
- Looking at the plot at the top of this post, we can see that going from a 500 to a 510 triples the acceptance rate into United States medical schools
Given the high stakes of the MCAT and Princeton Review’s willingness to stand behind their MCAT 510+ courses, their classes are my top choices for both online and classroom instruction.
Princeton Review MCAT 510+ Features
- Courses are available live online or in person and taught by 4 or more subject matter experts
- 120+ hours of live instruction
- A 1 on 1 expert study manager to coach you through your review process
- 15 full-length practice tests
- 11 MCAT books, including Princeton Review’s boxed set of 7 subject specific books (Biology, Psychology & Sociology, Biochemistry, General Chemistry, Sociology, Physics & Math, and Organic Chemistry)
Click here to see the latest price on Princeton Review’s MCAT 510+ course.
Best Intensive: Kaplan
There is a certain kind of student that will find even the standard rigorous MCAT review course isn’t enough. They know this is the most important test of their life, and they are willing to invest “all in” in terms of time and money. For these extremely dedicated individuals who want to leave no stone unturned in preparing for the MCAT, Kaplan created their MCAT Intensives.
These “Intensives” are well named, and they aren’t for everyone. For over a month, you will spend nearly every waking minute studying for the MCAT, coached on every component of the test by Kaplan’s experts in both group and individual settings. The intensives are well coordinated with the school calendar to fall during semester breaks to help you stay sharp and be best prepared for the MCAT.
Kaplan has been consistently offering these intensives for a number of years now and has developed a great reputation with these programs. They offer two versions of their MCAT intensive, a live online version, and an in person version that is offered in a handful of locations around the country. Here are a few of the key characteristics of each intensive
Kaplan’s MCAT Intensive Live Online
- 5-week bootcamp
- 7 hour daily program
- 250+ hours of total preparation
- 16 full-length practice tests
- Includes Kaplan’s well reviewed 7-book MCAT subject review book set
- 12 hours of one-on-one tutoring
- Click here for pricing and detailed schedule
Kaplan’s In Person MCAT Intensive
- 6-week bootcamp
- 14 hour daily program with build in time for meals and self study
- 320+ hours of live instruction
- Nightly instructor led study halls
- Regular time for group practice and private tutoring
- 16 full-length practice tests
- 8 book subject review, lesson book, high yield problem solving guide, and mobile app
- Click here for information on pricing and detailed schedule
Comparing Princeton Review vs. Kaplan
When it comes to MCAT prep, for many students, it’s going to come down to Princeton Review and Kaplan. To make these comparisons a little clearer, I’ve included the handy table below.
|Available Options*||Kaplan||Princeton Review|
|Classroom Instruction||Not published||123 hours|
|Live Online Option||Yes||Yes|
|Most Popular Option||In Person||MCAT 510+|
|Personalized Study Plan||Yes||Yes|
|On Demand Video Content||540 hours||500+ videos|
|Prep books||7 books||11 books|
|Score guarantee||Higher score||510+|
For a more detailed comparison, read my Kaplan vs. Princeton Review MCAT review.
* Not all options available with every package. Packages subject to change. See official websites for current details. Numbers based on most common packages at time of original publication.
Best MCAT Prep Book, Kaplan
Kaplan’s 7-book book prep is most most comprehensive MCAT series available and it has the Amazon reviews to prove it. Over 80% of buyers give Kaplan’s series a perfect 5-star review on Amazon. Kaplan’s team of authors include advanced science degree holders and medical doctors. The 2020-21 version of the Kaplan test prep includes:
- A volume devoted to each of the following: Biology, Psychology, Biochemistry, General Chemistry, Sociology, Physics, and Organic Chemistry
- Over 3000 pages of study materials and practice tests
- Additional online practice content from Kaplan including practice tests, videos, and quizzes
- 24 page MCAT Quicksheets which are those quick study pull out guides that have the most crucial information to drill on
- High yield badges to signal the most tested content based on AAMC materials
Click here to see Kaplan’s MCAT prep books on Amazon.
Best MCAT Tutoring: Varsity Tutors
Not everyone pretty for the MCAT feels like they need as much direction as a full on guided program as what Kaplan and Princeton Review offer. Many students have spent enough time going through review books and aids on their own to understand the general structure of the program. At the same time, they still feel like there are a few key areas where they could benefit from additional coaching. If that describes you, you may be interested in looking into an MCAT tutoring program. I’d recommend Varsity Tutors. In many cases, they can connect you with a tutor in your city, but they also have the ability to connect you with an online tutor as well, which ensures you get the best tutor for your needs.
- Allows you to search available MCAT tutors and view their profile prior to signing up
- Choose between tutoring in-person at a location that works for you or online on a flexible schedule
- Includes a money back better score guarantee
Click here to see pricing for Varsity Tutors.