What is the Best Way to Use the Official Practice MCAT Exam?

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Session 15

In today’s episode, Ryan and Bryan talk about how to utilize the AAMC Practice Exams. You will learn everything you need to know about the official practice test, as well as some differences in the practice tests made by Blueprint MCAT (formerly Next Step Test Prep) versus other test prep companies.

Two MCAT resources you must have:

  1. You have to get ALL the AAMC full length tests

You can get them as part of a larger bundle/program or buy them individually.

  1. The Section Bank

The full-length exam’s section bank is a set of online science passages for and administered as a part of the new MCAT.

Other AAMC resources you can use:

How to get the most from the AAMC resources

Your full-length MCAT practice tests should be taken as full exams. You have to take them as you will on the actual day. You have to simulate test day.

  • Get out of bed early at 7:30 am.
  • Get to the library by 8 am.
  • Start the test at 8:30 am.
  • Get used to the idea that you’re taking the MCAT first thing in the morning.
  • Stick very strictly to the timing. Give yourself the exact length of break normally permitted.

Do this near the end of your MCAT prep, preferably once a week, leading up to test day. The idea is to get the most test-like practice you can shortly before the exam.

You should take your MCAT practice tests like you will take the real thing. You have to simulate the actual test day.Click To Tweet

How to space out the AAMC official practice tests

One week before the exam, take the unscored AAMC sample test. (You can’t freak out about your score one week before the test, so take the unscored test one week before test day.) One week before that, take AAMC scored practice test 3. One week before that, AAMC scored practice test 2. One week before that, take AAMC scored practice test 1.

So that’s the practice test schedule leading up to your test day. You can and probably should take additional full-length MCAT practice tests from a test prep company like Next Step at various increments before that.

[Related episode: How Many MCAT Practice Tests Should I Take?]

Why save the AAMC practice tests for last?

You want to get the best possible simulation and the most accurate possible look and feel and estimate of how you’re doing in that final month of preparation.

Next Step MCAT practice tests are very precise. But Bryan admits that no test prep company is as accurate as the official AAMC practice tests.

Using the official exams too early in your prep and relying on test prep companies right near the end won’t give you an accurate assessment of your current skill level.

[Related episode: Last Minute MCAT Tips Leading up to Test Day]

The benefits of taking the AAMC practice tests near the end:

  • You get in the zone.
  • You get the exact editorial style of the real test.
  • You get a really good prediction of how you’re going to do on test day.

How can I get free MCAT practice tests from test prep companies?

  • Sign up for a free account with Next Step. They offer a free full-length diagnostic test. Then use Next Step full-length one as your mid-point check.
  • Other companies offer free exams, too. They’re usually only half-length or 1/3-length, but it can still be good practice.

Should you retake the AAMC practice tests?

Roughly four months after the last time you did something, you can do it again without having the results skewed from the “practice effect.” When you assess over and over again using the same assessment, performance goes up even if the underlined skill level hasn’t changed.

So it’s not recommended to take your AAMC practice tests multiple times within a four-month window. You want your practice test scores to accurately assess your skill level, not just float upward due to the practice effect.

You want your practice test scores to accurately assess your skill level, not just float upward due to the practice effect.Click To Tweet

Links and Other Resources: