9 Best MCAT Prep Courses for 2021: Top Online School Picks & Reviews

Best Overall

Next Step/Blueprint

  • Reasonable pricing
  • The online platform is easy to use
  • Mobile-friendly app

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Best Budget Option

Magoosh

Magoosh

  • User-friendly platform
  • Inexpensive price offer
  • Informative and concise videos

Read Review

Best Live Online Course

The Princeton Review

  • Great course material on MCAT content
  • Extensive Assessment tools & resources
  • 510+ Score Guarantee program

Read Review

Every MCAT prep course has its own strengths and weaknesses. No course is entirely perfect on its own. 

Undertaking the MCAT review is a feat in itself and you’re going to need the test prep course to help you ace the exam. 

Before you decide on the best course for you, you’ll have to take a closer look at each option available. Does it provide the resources and strategies on the best way to study for the MCAT given your level of skills and knowledge? Is it accessible anytime, anywhere, or only online?  

In this MCAT review, we tackle the 9 best MCAT prep courses you can choose from: 

Best Overall: Next Step/Blueprint 👑👑👑

When it comes to MCAT practice exams and the analytics or performance metrics, Blueprint is incomparable to any other. 

The difficulty of the MCAT practice exams in Blueprint’s platform provides the students with the tools to improve their weak points, understand different MCAT topics, and learn how to pace in answering the questions so they complete the test within a specific timeframe. 

Best Budget Option: Magoosh 👑👑

Magoosh is an inexpensive MCAT prep course that combines budget and value in one. 

A major highlight of the Magoosh MCAT online course program is that it delivers concise information through its video lessons while providing solid analytics for any medical student. 

Best Live Online Course: The Princeton Review 👑

The Princeton Review is the best MCAT prep course to date in terms of the live online platform. It provides a strong, consistent knowledge base on each MCAT topic, has excellent instructors, and carries the best MCAT study books. 

As a 2018 winner of the EdTech Digest Award Test Prep solution, The Princeton Review is a leader in MCAT preparation. 

9 Best MCAT Prep Courses in 2020

  1. Next Step/Blueprint
  2. Magoosh
  3. The Princeton Review
  4. Kaplan
  5. Gold Standard
  6. Khan Academy 
  7. Adapt Prep
  8. Altius 

1. Next Step/Blueprint

Best Overall

Next Step/Blueprint

While Next Step/Blueprint is a little short on printed material quality, the interactive learning experience provided creates an easier learning curve for any medical student.

The practice tests are insightful, thanks to the analytics and difficulty of each section, which makes Blueprint one of the best MCAT review courses to enroll in.

Key Strengths

  • Interactive learning through illustrations and video animation for a more engaging student learning experience
  • Powerful analytics that provides feedback on each subject, content category, difficulty, reasoning skill, and changed answers from right to wrong & vice versa. 
  • Access to Study Plan tool (1) that allows the student to personalize and easily set their MCAT study schedule
  • MCAT practice tests that simulate the actual exam but more difficult. The platform also has a customizable quiz generator.
  • Over 10,000 practice questions, 15 full-length practice tests, 9 subject review books, AAMC content material, and over 160 learning modules e.g. videos, assessments, quizzes

Next Step/Blueprint Is Best For:

Any student who prefers the self-study approach and wants to maximize the most of their time while staying active with their side activities. 

If you’re looking for a great self-study reviewer tool where you can make the most of your practice exams with a personalized, flexible experience, Next Step/Blueprint is the ideal option for you. 

Learning Style: Self-study

  • Reasonable pricing
  • The online platform is easy to use
  • Mobile-friendly app
  • Personalized Study Planner tool & live office hours offer great flexibility
  • Powerful analytics tools
  • Highly interactive and engaging learning modules e.g. videos, quizzes, assessments 
  • Explanations to answers are sometimes limited in justification and clarity 
  • Few grammatical errors in practice tests
  • Subject review books are not as comprehensive

2. Magoosh

Best Budget Option

Magoosh Logo

Magoosh

Magoosh’s inexpensive offer makes it the best MCAT study guide or supplemental study aid for any medical student on a budget. 

Magoosh excels best when you want to focus on each MCAT topic to improve your overall pace for the actual exam along with using a light reviewer tool that doesn’t cost much.

Key Strengths

  • In-depth review on your practice exam performance through feedback that records your average time spent per question, compares your answer & pace to other students, percentage on right & wrong answers, and individual data on each subject. 
  • Detailed explanations for your answers provide more than enough justification and clarity even if you aren’t 100% sure why you got the right answer.
  • If your score doesn’t improve by at least 10 points in the actual exam, you get a full refund (2). 
  • 380+ video lessons, 3 practice tests, 9 CARS passages, 745 questions, and flashcards
  • Magoosh Mobile App to study for Vocab terms

Magoosh Is Best For:

Students who learn best through watching videos rather than in-person or live online classes. 

Magoosh is also ideally suited for busy individuals with minimal time to spare and are looking for a cheaper alternative to use as a supplemental study tool. 

Students who opt for Magoosh as their primary reviewer tool should add more MCAT review books and practice tests for added study materials and to better prepare for the exam. 

Learning Style: Self-study

  • User-friendly platform
  • Built-in timer helps adjust your pace on the actual MCAT exam
  • Inexpensive price offer
  • Informative and concise videos 
  • Solid analytics and clear explanations for answers
  • Question difficulty is a great training ground to practice topic knowledge base
  • Limited practice test material
  • AAMC content material is only included in the premium membership offer
  • Limited prep resources

3. The Princeton Review

Best Live Online Course

The Princeton Review

Princeton Review’s provision of resources and content material is more than sufficient for any medical student to score high on the MCAT exam. 

The 510+ Score guarantee course, in particular, carries less than 2% of a historical refund rate revealing how effective TPR’s prep tools, instructors, and overall the program’s effectiveness for the MCAT.

Key Strengths

  • Princeton Review provides the best MCAT review books up to 11 subject review books in total that contribute to making TPR the most comprehensive, intensive program for students.
  • 510+ Score Guarantee (3) course for the ultimate MCAT preparation 
  • Access to innovative tools such as MediFlix videos, 16 full-length practice tests, medical school admissions advantage sessions, & AAMC material. 
  • Expert instructors to guide you and strategize your MCAT study schedule
  • If you don’t score higher after taking TPR’s course, you get a tuition refund

The Princeton Review Is Best For:

Students looking for an online MCAT prep course with an in-depth, thorough review of each MCAT topic. 

If you have a good understanding of the basics from your pre-med course and want a comprehensive review to improve your understanding, this is the best MCAT prep course for you. 

Learning Style: Self-study, Live Online, and In-person

  • Great course material on MCAT content
  • User-friendly online platform
  • Extensive Assessment tools & resources
  • 510+ Score Guarantee program
  • 11 Subject review books
  • High satisfaction rate
  • Poor app mobility
  • Courses lack augmentation or add-on features

4. Kaplan

Best Budget Option

Kaplan offers solid value in learning the fundamentals of each MCAT topic and in reviewing the basics. 

Kaplan is the best MCAT prep course in person that provides guidance along with a support system for helping students get through both academic and personal struggles while studying for the MCAT.

Key Strengths

  • Kaplan’s QBank is one of the best MCAT study materials with a broad amount of questions along with customization features such as a timed or untimed mode, filter certain MCAT sections and topics to include, and set how many questions to include. 
  • Kaplan’s MCAT Channel gives the student access to pre-recorded and live online classes to give flexibility in both self-study and live online learning styles. On-demand practice tests (4) are also available. 
  • Excellent instructors that offer both academic guidance and mentorship through personal struggles experienced through the weight of one’s MCAT prep journey
  • Identify your strengths and weaknesses easily from the MCAT practice exams through the analytics and Kaplan’s intuitive online platform.
  • Access to 16 full-length practice exams, 10,000 practice questions, 7 subject review books, AAMC content material, and 700 hours of instruction & practice. 

Kaplan Is Best For:

Students who prefer a more traditional, rigorous type of learning environment and who also lack any understanding of the basics or fundamentals from their pre-med courses. 

Students who also perform best by having a mentor to personally guide, mentor, and encourage them throughout the process makes Kaplan an ideal fit for you. 

Learning Style: Self-study, Live Online, and In-person

  • Multiple assessment tools e.g. flashcards, QBank, etc.
  • MCAT Channel provides a flexible learning experience
  • Review material is in-depth and comprehensive 
  • Course access lasts 6 months
  • Fantastic In-person course program along with instructor guidance and support
  • Various practice test kits and bundles at a cheaper price offer
  • Course organization is overwhelming to use at the start
  • Repetitive questions

5. Gold Standard

Best Variety

Gold Standard

Gold Standard

Gold Standard provides a wide array of MCAT review materials at various price offers and packages that any medical student can utilize. 

What makes Gold Standard a unique prep course compared to the top prep courses is its flexibility in offering different review materials that are personally tailored to fit different students’ needs.

Key Strengths

  • Innovative resources in every form e.g. Mp3’s, mobile app, videos, printed material, etc. to provide varied learning outlets
  • Diverse review material packages at affordable rates that make it beneficial for any student looking for varied course review material to study on
  • An astounding number of practice questions to give the student newer and more challenging questions rather than answering repetitive content

Gold Standard Is Best For:

Students looking for a solid budget option with regards to subject review books, content material, and practice tests. 

If you prefer to learn with feedback or have some access to analytics tools and performance metrics, you can purchase individual Qbank bundles or go with Magoosh as a supplemental study tool. 

Learning Style: Self-study, In-person

  • Various course packages options
  • Inexpensive and great price value
  • In-depth explanations for solutions along with comprehensive content review material 
  • Harder than actual AAMC
  • Available resources in every form (MP3, e-book, app, video, books)
  • Lacks analytics tools or any performance metrics for providing feedback 
  • Outdated online platform

6. Khan Academy

Best Student Support

Khan Academy

Khan Academy

Khan Academy is a free reviewer tool that provides detailed video lessons, solid assessments and practice tests, and gamification features for a highly interactive learning experience.

The overall course program of Khan Academy goes beyond expectations and is beneficial for any self-study learner.

Key Strengths

  • Completely free to use along with full access to video lessons, assessments, and features 
  • Gamification features promote learning in a proactive way and motivate students 
  • Multi-language support offers more flexibility in overall structure and accessibility for French, Portuguese, and Spanish students 
  • Comprehensive learning through the use of illustrations and video animations 
  • Gain a solid understanding of each MCAT topic along with detailed CARS, Psychological, Social, and Biological passages to practice on
  • Access to machine-graded assessments and content material reviewed and verified by AAMC

Khan Academy Is Best For:

Students who lack access to expensive course material and are looking for content to help improve their score, enhance their foundation on each topic, and boost their MCAT preparation before the actual exam. 

Any medical student in need of additional review material without having to spend extra cost should use Khan Academy’s free resources and assessments available to the fullest advantage.

Learning Style: Self-study

  • Easy to use platform and user interface
  • Course access is free
  • Gamification features
  • Solid review material and practice tests
  • In-depth review and highly interactive learning experience for each MCAT topic
  • Impressive video catalog selection
  • Explanations are not as thorough
  • Might appear too wordy for some
  • No in-person or live online alternatives

7. Examkrackers

Best Intensive Course

Examkrackers

Examkrackers leans more towards a reviewer type-based learning than learning the basics or understanding unfamiliar, new concepts.

A unique trait about the Examkrackers course program is the incorporation of humor in their teaching style to prevent students from feeling bored or burned out throughout the process. 

Key Strengths

  • An enthusiastic learning experience that helps keep students awake for the duration of each video lesson 
  • Complete study package 11th edition provides one of the best subject review books for intensive learning and in-depth understanding of each MCAT topic
  • Students experience less dry content material that keeps them from feeling burned out after hours of reading
  • 12 weeks of recorded video lectures, MCAT practice tests, and comprehensive book set

Examkrackers Is Best For:

Students who only have a few months left to study, have a good knowledge base on each MCAT topic and need content material that keeps them awake and interested while studying. 

Any student on the lookout for comprehensive, in-depth subject review books at a cheaper price than The Princeton Review. It’s comparably at par and even better than TPR’s books to some extent. 

Learning Style: Self-study, Live online, In-person

  • Easy access to MCAT instructor through forums 
  • Review material is very readable
  • Uses a lot of graphs and charts to explain concepts
  • Complex topics are explained clearly and in easily digestible terms
  • Limited practice tests and analytics tools
  • Lacks in-depth detail coverage for live online and in-person courses 
  • The online platform needs improvement

8. Altius

Best Personalized Study

Altius offers price ranges comparable to Kaplan and The Princeton Review and offer a specialized course program that leans towards 1-on-1 tutoring.

Considering that most programs nowadays are heavily done online or are self-paced, Altius upholds personal mentoring/tutoring as their main approach to educating their students. It also promotes conceptual thinking as a higher priority than rely on memorization. 

Key Strengths

  • If your score doesn’t reach 90th percentile in the actual MCAT exam, your tutor will continue to work with you for free until you do. 
  • Emphasis on 1-on-1 tutoring maximizes feedback, assessment, and mental support to foster a stronger learning experience. 
  • Project assignments provided by Altius encourage the students to complete all tasks found under the program for a guaranteed high MCAT score
  • Proven statistical data of students undertaking the Altius course program and achieving a high/improved MCAT score

Altius Is Best For:

Students who prefer a structured and highly organized approach similar to a traditional classroom setting.

The project assignments and tasks can be rigorous and require a high level of commitment and dedication.

If you’re looking for a more personalized and flexible approach where you can manage your own study schedule and study routine, Altius may not be the best fit for you. 

Learning Style: Live online, In-person

  • Conceptual Thinking Focused type of learning
  • Rigorous prep teaching style promotes better student preparation
  • 90th percentile guarantee
  • Offers in-person and live online options
  • 99th and 100th percentile tutors
  • The user interface needs improvement
  • limits flexibility for the type of student that enrolls in the program
  • Subject review books aren’t as comprehensive

9. Adapt Prep/AptarePrep

Best For Advanced Students

Aptare Prep

Adapt Prep/AptarePrep

Last but not least, Adapt Prep/AptarePrep is a self-study tool that provides practice exams as the sole learning experience necessary to build your understanding and skills for the MCAT exam.

Adapt Prep/AptarePrep is comparable to reviewer tools such as Magoosh or Gold Standard and is also an affordable deal for any medical student. 

Key Strengths

  • Quiz builder allows personalized self-study learning
  • Unlimited quizzes give full range access to practice passages questions along with various practice tests at a comprehensive level and reinforced understanding
  • Rank estimator feature provides a good measure of how prepared you are for the MCAT exam and your percentile rank overall 
  • Solid Analytics tools that provide a timer for improved pacing and detailed explanations that provide in-depth justification for your answer
  • Affordable pricing with different access durations provide versatile options to choose from
  • 3 day trial period gives the user a chance to test the entire course program 

Adapt Prep/AptarePrep is Best For:

Students who already have a good understanding of each MCAT topic and are looking for a reviewer tool to help brush their skills and understanding of the practice test knowledge. 

At best, Adapt Prep/AptarePrep is ideally used as an additional reviewer tool if one feels lacking in practice tests or assessments. 

Learning Style: Self-study

  • Solid Analytics & detailed explanations 
  • Great readability & user experience
  • Affordable rates and flexible access duration offers
  • Strong User Interface
  • An extensive selection of questions and exams great for improving exam adeptness
  • Some questions were easier than the actual MCAT exam
  • No live instructor guidance or feedback
  • All price packages offer the same content material

Pricing

Prep Course

Price

The Princeton Review

$1,499 – $2,899

Next Step/Blueprint

$1,799 – $2,999

Magoosh

$179 – $199

Kaplan

$1,599 – $2,299

Gold Standard

$29.95 – $49.95 for monthly plans;

$69 – $1,499 

Khan Academy 

Free

Examkrackers

$1,299 – $1,745

Altius

$2,499 – $6,999

Adapt Prep/Aptare Prep

$49 – $199

Self-Study vs. In-person vs. Live Online

Finding the ideal MCAT prep course is only half of the entire solution. 

It also matters what kind of student you are. This can dramatically affect how each of the courses will prepare you for the MCAT exam and how much it will benefit you as well. 

If you prefer a self-study approach, for example, enrolling in a course that is heavily based on in-person interaction might be difficult for you. The same is true for someone who wants to be surrounded by other students when preparing for an exam. 

Good thing there is a variety of MCAT review courses you can choose from. 

In deciding which one to enroll in, ask yourself: What type of setting or environment is most conducive to learning for me? 

Self Study

Self-study learning is the most flexible option of all. 

Compared to in-person and live online, self-study is geared towards students who prefer to set the ground rules on their own terms, learn at their own scheduled pace, and use resources they handpick themselves. 

Having total control might seem appealing to you but a self-study approach also means accountability & commitment to stick to a specific study schedule. 

You also won’t have as much access to instructors or mentors to give you a second opinion of your answers or feedback in general. 

To make up for this, choose a course plan that provides extensive access to analytics and prep tools to help you identify your weaknesses and other essential points you need to cover for the actual exam. 

Best Self-Study Courses: 

  1. Gold Standard – Access to diverse course material is perfect for self-study since you aren’t limited to just one source of information
  2. The Princeton Review – The resources and content material provided by TPR provide an intensive program perfect for self-study learners

Courses that help or supplement self-study learners are:

  1. Kaplan – The Adaptive Qbank is a great feature that can boost your self-study learning
  2. Next Step/Blueprint – The analytics offers a lot of insight that’s useful for identifying various MCAT exam aspects 
  3. Khan Academy – Who would say no to free access that can help you improve your MCAT score? 
  4. Examkrackers – Since Examkrackers leans more towards reviewing than learning, this is a good addition to use together with a self-study pace. 

Live Online

Live online learning is a balance between self-study and in-person.

What is highly advantageous for those who learn through live online best is you get partial control of your study schedule and also feedback from an instructor and guidance throughout the course. 

Unfortunately, because you only have partial control over your study schedule, you have to adjust your activities around pre-set schedules. This might prove challenging if you have other activities you need to accomplish. 

Expert instructors are essential in live online courses to enjoy strong mentorship.

Utilizing practice tests can also help greatly for the self-study section of the live online course, although it’s preferable to use lighter reviewers to prevent burnout. 

Best Live Online Courses

  1. The Princeton Review – You have access to expert instructors of every MCAT topic so you’re guaranteed to have guidance and you know your questions will be answered correctly. 
  2. Kaplan – The support the instructors provide both academically and personally is outstanding. 

Courses that help or supplement live online learners are:

  1. Magoosh – Magoosh may offer only a small number of practice tests compared to TPR or Kaplan. 

This is why it’s perfect for variation in practice tests and make for an in-depth review for the last month before the actual exam. 

  1. Adapt Prep/AptarePrep – Thanks to the different duration access offers of AptarePrep’s program, you can use this to your advantage if you want more practice. 

Their 15-day access is perfect for light reviewing and the 60-day or 90-day access for better preparation. 

In-person

Students who prefer to learn in-person are traditional classroom learners. 

You prefer an environment that mimics or simulates a college or university classroom and find it the most conducive setting to learn. 

The benefits of in-person learners are feedback and guidance you can receive from your tutor or mentor to the highest degree; however, you sacrifice flexibility in the process. 

In short, in-person learners prefer a structured type of learning with strict rules and regimens. 

With a focused type of learning where you can receive not just feedback from your instructor but also small group discussions, this can be highly essential not just academically but also to boost morale throughout the MCAT prep journey. 

Given the circumstances, in-person learners could benefit more with the help of additional content material and practice tests. These are useful to stimulate group discussions and to improve feedback. 

Best in-person Courses:

  1. Kaplan – Kaplan ranks as the number one option for in-person courses and provides superior instruction & guidance for its students without fail. 
  2. Altius – It’s no surprise Altius is one of the best in-person courses since their focus is primarily 1-on-1 tutoring. 
  3. The Princeton Review – Although TPR scores higher for live online learners, it’s still a solid course option for in-person learners. 

Courses that help or supplement in-person learners are:

  1. Khan Academy – This is an optional yet invaluable option in-person learners can take to improve their understanding especially for passages questions
  2. Gold Standard – In-person learning is generally traditional and rigid so adding variation in course material access provides more balance to the overall study plan. 
  3. Next Step/ Blueprint – Strong performance analytics provides invaluable insight apart from an instructor’s point of view. 
  4. Magoosh – A good balance of budget, analytics, and reviewer tools should the student want an alternative to Khan Academy 

Conclusion

With all the tools, resources, and guidance, the key determining factor to any student’s triumph over the MCAT exam (5) is their commitment to themselves. 

While some may consider a high score to be the only goal, it’s not. 

Aptitude, attitude, and conceptual thinking & understanding are far more essential qualities to take with you in the exam and throughout your medical practice. 

These are all factors that determine how you approach each lesson and question you encounter along with how you handle your study plan overall. 

With 9 MCAT prep courses to choose from, the best one for you depends on the type of learner you are and which course can help you identify and strengthen your weaker areas. 

Don’t forget to add your budget requirements to your decision too. If you’re shorthanded, remember you can use supplemental study tools to boost your preparation. 

References

  1. https://blueprintprep.com/mcat/mcat-study-schedules
  2. https://mcat.magoosh.com/score-guarantee
  3. https://www.princetonreview.com/medical/mcat-guarantee?ceid=tersh-nav-guarantee
  4. https://www.kaptest.com/mcat/free/mcat-practice
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medical_College_Admission_Test