9 Best MCAT Practice Test to Help You Ace the Exam in 2021!
Taking the MCAT is not an undertaking that should be taken lightly.
Thus, the need to take advantage of an MCAT practice test and to work hard to understand every aspect of the admissions test that will influence the outcome–whether it’s good or bad.
Now, just because you’re working on MCAT practice exams doesn’t mean you’ll lessen the effort you put into them. These demand knowledge, critical thinking, analysis, and strategy.
Let’s face the facts; a practice exam can help your score improve significantly, especially if you use the best MCAT practice test you can get your hands on.
How to Take MCAT Practice Tests Without Feeling Overwhelmed
The MCAT is a totally different exam from other standardized tests. Some questions can be absurd at times. You can’t expect to get the perfect score at the first try, too. Although it will be awesome if you do.
In other words, a practice test will throw you a challenge that could fry your brain….or not.
Take a Diagnostic Exam or a Free MCAT Practice Test
Yes, I understand you’re anxious.
Every medical student who’s about to take the MCAT is, and this is normal.
Here’s the thing though: No student is ever fully prepared. Not even doctors with years of experience are ready for every situation or have a full 100% answer to every diagnosis they find.
The point is, you need to put yourself out there and take the chance rather than not take it at all and risk being fully unprepared for the MCAT exam.
An MCAT diagnostic test is the best way to get started since it helps you measure what you’re good at, where you stand, and what you need to focus on.
Many prep companies offer a free MCAT practice test that you can also easily access.
You need to rip off the Band-Aid now so you know what areas you need to work on the most.
Use the MCAT Diagnostic Test or Free MCAT Practice Test to Assess & Plan Your Study Schedule
This step is all about learning to manage your stress, which can easily build-up, especially in the weeks leading up to the exam day.
A good solution is to do Step 1 and plan your next move.
Use the score you get to measure your aptitude of each section and which parts you felt confident and unsure about.
Take a look at the diagnostic test with objective eyes.
If you get a low score, dive into which parts might have contributed to this. Which MCAT section made you feel the most unsure? Even if you got a correct answer, ask yourself if you fully understand how you arrived at the answer.
Taking the MCAT is one part studying and the other being good at taking tests. This is where pacing, critical reasoning, and analysis come in.
Even with the best MCAT practice tests, if you don’t know the reason behind your answers or why you were wrong, you might end up feeling stuck along the way.
Grade yourself fairly and, from what you have, set a schedule to work on your weak points, and find solutions to overcome them.
Take MCAT Practice Tests at Least a Month or Two from Your First Study Day
This is an important and essential factor that will keep you from feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or anxious all the time.
It’s all about giving yourself enough breathing room for a better assessment of yourself after the diagnostic exam.
If you start taking practice tests a month before the actual exam and realize you weren’t as competent as you thought, you’ll feel bad and either work hard to improve or throw your efforts down the drain.
After a month of studying, taking an MCAT full-length practice test can provide you an assessment of your month’s study progress, and you can adjust your routine and study plan based on the results you find.
Last but not least, remember the MCAT is not all studying day and night. You might ace the multiple-choice questions; however, passages questions require good deduction, reasoning, and pacing so you don’t waste time on the other questions.
The MCAT still carries a percentage of unpredictability in it. So start early in taking practice tests and build your test-taking ability.
9 Best MCAT Practice Tests
Now that we’ve covered how to address taking the practice tests without feeling overwhelmed, this part is all about what are the best resources to use to attain the highest possible MCAT score.
Be sure to take advantage of the free MCAT practice exams you can find too. Just because they’re free, doesn’t mean they’re worthless.
The AAMC practice tests (1) are the leader in this sphere not because it’s the AAMC but because the materials are the closest representation you’ll ever have of the actual MCAT exam.
With up to 4 practice tests, this makes for an excellent dry run to measure your readiness and test-taking strategies.
I don’t recommend that you blast your way through all four practice tests right away, however. Considered as the best MCAT practice tests, the AAMC practice exams are better off taken in intervals.
Maybe for the first month after studying you take one or two. Then, the two months before the actual exam you take the last two.
The point here is to improve your range or familiarity by taking diverse sets of practice tests.
Remember how I mentioned the MCAT also has room for unpredictable questions?
You might not know what the questions on exam day will look like, but when you have the closest simulated MCAT exams on your side, plus the familiarity of taking diverse sets, you won’t be taken by surprise.
The Kaplan MCAT practice test provides a solid range of passage questions and explanations; however, the difficulty of these exams is low.
If you really want to gauge it for yourself before making an actual purchase, you can access one Kaplan free MCAT practice test to try out for yourself.
The passage questions, however, are content-heavy and, if you enroll in the in-person course, these can greatly help you through the MCAT prep journey.
These types of passage questions provide a good training ground for pacing and reading aptitude.
I mean, yes. Reading comprehension is a skill for any exam and it’s even more essential for the MCAT.
Also, Kaplan’s cheapest practice test pack offers 3 full-length practice tests while the highest priced option offers 6, plus access to the Qbank (2).
3. The Princeton Review
Similar to Kaplan’s program, The Princeton Review MCAT practice test is also content heavy with passage-based questions but it is much harder and more challenging.
Explanations also provide solid justification and, while the interface of The Princeton Review might be harder to get used to, the program itself has proven to improve students’ scores by at least 10 points.
Apart from the free practice test, the paid option gives you access to 8 full-length practice tests. This earned TPR a solid value rating.
Overall, it is a solid, balanced practice test reviewer that combines both difficulty and content-heavy questions for even better MCAT preparation.
What The Princeton Review offers best with its practice tests is the comprehensive review. It can get a little frustrating since some of the tests look like GS tests than AAMC test material.
Yes, they’re much more difficult than Kaplan but the relevance also scores lower than Kaplan’s.
4. Next Step/Blueprint
Next Step MCAT practice tests are perfect for improving your CARS score along with the Psychology, Behavioral, and Social sciences.
In addition, Next Step provides pretty great analytics that can help you identify your weaknesses much better and the areas you need to improve on.
For instance, one of the analytics tools shows a percentage of which answers you changed from right to wrong and wrong to right.
A feature like this can help you understand your reasoning better and tackle any unsure feelings you have had in answering a certain question.
In terms of difficulty and relevance, many users have regarded the Next Step as harder than the actual AAMC exams and have strong relevance to the AAMC material as well.
For this reason alone, Next Step practice tests are a perfect addition to practice together with the 4 AAMC practice tests.
Furthermore, Next Step also offers a free trial account where you can access a half-length diagnostic MCAT, free online MCAT practice test, 7 learning modules, and a lot more.
5. Gold Standard
Gold Standard provides the cheaper alternative or budget option when it comes to practice tests.
Sure, the exam difficulty isn’t all too bad and you can get a lot of practice materials at such a low price. In terms of answer explanations, however, it scored the lowest out of all the items on this list.
If you’re looking for practice tests with a tremendous amount of questions, the sheer number that Gold Standard provides is intense and can be decent practice and for mental exam training.
Despite Examkrackers’ lack of features and its outdated platform, the practice tests are one of the best resources to use.
Specifically, its passage questions are excellent and are best if you want to improve your critical reasoning.
In terms of AAMC relevance, Examkrackers scores high, making it a perfect pair with comprehensive practice tests such as the Princeton Review or Next Step.
However, its analytics and test review process can be a hassle. For the most part, it’s not as intuitive as most online platforms and the questions can’t be reviewed by jumping to specific questions. You’ll have to go through each one in order.
Nevertheless, the format and content material overall closely resemble the actual MCAT exam. Examkrackers also provides the most advanced questions, perfect for improving your overall test-taking aptitude.
Altius’ practice tests are outdated, to say the least. Its MCAT practice tests are dated back in 2015, which makes quite a difference.
In spite of the outdated material, it’s mostly positive feedback from students who have used the practice tests and, if it’s any consolation, the tests resemble AAMC content material far more than Kaplan and The Princeton Review.
Altius serves as a good training ground for practice tests, and it’s best not to approach the materials with complacency.
Altius is actually the perfect example of why taking a diverse set of practice tests from different sources is effective when preparing for the MCAT.
Whatever weakness it has can be compensated by another set of practice tests.
Overall, Altius provides adequate practice materials that are worth trying out.
Magoosh is an upgraded version of a more affordable or budget option like Gold Standard only 3x better.
The practice test’s difficulty and material overall are sufficient and even as difficult as AAMC content material. What’s extremely useful with Magoosh’s program is its analytics and explanations.
The explanations for your answers are concisely delivered and easy to understand. This means it’s great for those looking to reinforce their basic and fundamental MCAT knowledge base.
The analytics also helps your pacing for the practice test, thanks to the timer feature that tells you your average time spent per question.
Finally, Magoosh is an inexpensive offer that doesn’t come too cheap or too steep.
While the provider doesn’t directly sell practice exams alone, its course plan is cheaper than what most prep companies on this list offer.
9. Khan Academy
Khan Academy doesn’t offer full-length practice tests but a ton of practice questions to work on for each MCAT section and sub-section.
It’s best to note that all the MCAT content material found in Khan Academy was reviewed and approved by AAMC.
Make sure to use the practice questions provided in the sub-sections for maximum benefits. Sub-sections like organ systems, biomolecules, cells, social inequality, behavior, physical processes, etc. all have their own practice tests.
This makes the questions highly focused rather than jumbled into one full-length material. As a result, you understand different MCAT sections more comprehensively.
You can also get a better understanding of the sciences by going over the smaller parts and solidifying your knowledge base on each part.
The CARS, Biological & Biochemical, Psychological & Social, and Chemical and Physical MCAT sections also have at least 30 practice questions each.
The best part of all this is it’s free to access and use.
3 Tips for Taking Practice Tests
Tip # 1: Sort the practice tests into four different tiers
The tiers will help segregate how to answer the practice tests based on difficulty, AAMC relevance, content depth, and practice test length.
Tier 1: AAMC practice tests
Tier 2: Kaplan + Next Step + Gold Standard – Content heavy + Strong Analytics + Diverse number of practice questions
Tier 3: Princeton Review + Magoosh + Altius – Content Heavy + Fundamentals/Basics Reinforcement + Relevant AAMC Content material
Tier 4: Examkrackers + Khan Academy + Next Step – Critical Reasoning Boost + Sub-Section Boost + Analytics
The reason behind using tiers is because you can improve your weak points in multiple areas while, at the same time, improve how you adapt to different scenarios that are both unpredictable and challenging.
Of course, every tier has to be balanced out too. If you put Kaplan, Gold Standard, and TPR in one tier, the entire set would be too heavy to take since all three are content heavy.
For example, Tier 2 has good content-heavy questions to practice pacing, understanding, and mental training, but it also lacks thorough explanations and diversity.
This is where Next Step and Gold Standard come in.
Ideally, you’ll want to complete all the tiers for a full-on MCAT preparation program. Tier 1, most of all, is the highest priority.
You’re also free to create your own tiers with whichever balances out to the most to you in terms of your strong and weak areas.
Tip # 2: Take at least 10 full-length practice tests minimum before the MCAT
With 10 full-length practice tests at the bare minimum, a better range should be about 12-15 full-length practice tests.
What’s important here is also how you take the practice tests.
Perhaps start with one AAMC test, then move onto 3 Kaplan/TPR, 2 Examkrackers, 3 Next Step, 2 Gold Standard, and so forth.
The key is to take the tests while maintaining the diversity and the unpredictability of what comes next.
Once you start to feel like the questions are repetitive and you’re comfortable answering them, you need to shift to a practice test that challenges you to think outside the box.
What you’ll get out of this is not just confidence, but versatility as well. Exposing yourself to as many questions and formats as possible will make you even more fully prepared against any surprise items in the MCAT.
Tip # 3: Your first practice test should be the AAMC half test
While there are other free practice tests such as Next Step or the Kaplan MCAT diagnostic test, the AAMC half test is the best strategy to provide yourself with raw exposure to official practice questions.
These and the difficulty of the AAMC test on your first try should set the standard for all the other practice tests that follow. This will give you better input on how to assess your weak points and to face your fears early on.
The takeaway here is that every student has to be able to set their study plan on their own terms. Every student should be able to assess themselves based on where they stand, and not how other students perform or how their study habits are in comparison.
Before you start diving in, remember that the MCAT is not just a purely academic exam. It will rattle your brain as well.
If you’ve chosen to pursue it, understand the importance of how stress, anxiety, and worry can cause throw you off course. Using the AAMC free online MCAT practice test to assess your current situation from the start will set the stage for your MCAT journey.
Take note of the tips and strategies listed above and use them in your favor. If you need a prep course to ace the MCAT exam, check out the best MCAT prep courses to learn more!