MCAT Preparation Course

How to Select an MCAT Preparation Course

MCAT being a critical step towards Medical school admission, the preparation for the test calls for much dedication and systematic planning on your part. While there are no statistics to prove that taking a course can get you a higher score than by self-studying, many Medical school aspirants opt for one or other commercial course these years. With a large number of test preparation course options available, how do you select the best one for yourself?

What is offered in an MCAT Preparation Course?

Let us begin by looking at what an average preparation course of MCAT offers to a prospective Medical student.

  • A commercial review program brings a well-organized structure into your study plan and helps you achieve the target systematically.
  • Rather than teaching you the subject content, these programs are training you to take the exam-by familiarizing you with all the various aspects of the test.
  • The presence of qualified instructors provides you with the right guidance for preparing and practicing.
  • Online learning options and personalized programs allow integration of the advantages of individualized learning with the formal structure of classroom instruction.

How Do You Choose the Best MCAT Preparation Course?

With quite a number of  options to choose from, and not much difference in the number of class hours, or flexibility, or content matter among them, here are some pointers that can help you choose the best for yourself:

  1. Your personal style of learning: Many people need motivation and a structure to learn, while many others can simply be left to learn the concepts on their own.If you are in the first group, it is better you choose a group-instruction program. If you are someone who works on your own, but need a bit of organizing or assistance in preparing, an individualized, closed-group (with a smaller number of participants), or even an online course suits you.
  2. Location and availability: When joining a real-time classroom instruction program, choose one that is available closest to your location. This way you need not spend a lot of time traveling.
  3. Flexibility and facilities: You might have your undergraduate classes or other commitments that might prevent you from joining a formal review program. Or you might just need classes for certain sections of the exam. Look for an individualized  course to best suit your needs.
  4. The cost factor: Though there will not be any drastic differences among the course prices, it is good to check with individual providers to find out the one that fits your pocket and needs.
  5. Trust and name factor: Experience and expertise of the faculty counts a lot. A trusted name in the preparation  industry is always preferred over a newcomer. It is also advised that you talk to previous exam takers who have experience with formal review programs.

Snapshots of Three Popular MCAT Preparation Course Programs

  • Kaplan: Kaplan is a proven name in the exam preparation industry and brings along vast experience and expertise with its highly competitive test faculty. Kaplan has a range of courses for you to choose from-one-to-one tutoring courses, online courses, and classroom programs across the US. The Kaplan range also includes a series of Kaplan On Demand Advantage programs that focus on special areas like Physics, Organic Chemistry, and Verbal Reasoning. Kaplan also offers a summer intensive program on test preparation. The review materials and tests are designed to give you great conceptual clarity along with the right practice for the real test. Cost-wise, most Kaplan programs are at par with those in the same range from their competitors, but might be a little towards the expensive side. Almost all Kaplan preparation programs come with guaranteed better score or money-back feature.
  • The Berkley Review (TBR): Unlike Kaplan and The Princeton Review, TBR is a name exclusive to MCAT, especially in California. The materials are of high quality and provide you with excellent conceptual clarity. The instructors are well-qualified and experienced. Unlike many of its competitors, TBR does not have many courses to choose from, and the programs target those hard-working aspirants who need an organized classroom environment to thrive. There are no online programs or one-on-one programs to choose from. So, location is a constraint, if you are anywhere else except for a few locations in California. However, TBR also offers an excellent Home Study program at a really competitive price, to compensate this. To top it all, the TBR average scores on each of the four sections are found to be above the national average.
  • The Princeton Review (TPR): Yet another big name in the exam industry, TPR has a lot of individualized learning options to choose from - private tutoring, online classes, regular classroom-based instruction programs, small group instruction programs, and a special program on Verbal Reasoning. Like Kaplan, TPR has programs across various locations all over US, and many of these could be customized to suit your needs. The review materials and practices tests are designed to help you attain conceptual clarity and prepare for the real test. The TPR test faculties are chosen after a rigorous selection process and they are well-trained. TPR offers success/satisfaction guarantee for most of their programs or you can avail free tutoring. Price-wise, most TPR preparation course programs are competitively priced, but might appear a little expensive for some.

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