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How Many MCAT Practice Tests Should I Take?

Session 34

This week, Bryan and I are shedding light on one specific question that has been coming up over and over again, and that is, how many practice tests should a student aim for before taking the real MCAT?

Practice tests are the key to doing well on the MCAT.  Next Step Test Prep sells 10 full-length exams to help you prepare, but how many do you really need before you’re truly ready to take the real thing?

[01:26] Absolute Minimum Acceptable Number of Practice Tests to Take

Every student is different, so Bryan will touch on the different cases. Starting with the easier answer, the absolute minimum acceptable number of practice tests to take is three. This is because, at the time we’re recording this podcast (early 2017), the AAMC has released three official practice tests.

You're not an adequately prepared MCAT student if you have not, at the bare minimum, taken the official AAMC practice tests.Click To Tweet

[02:37] Good Number for Extreme Cases

You may extend the practice tests to as many as seven to ten if you find that you need it. If standardized testing is particularly hard for you, you may find that you have to go as high as seven or eight.

If you do more than ten MCAT full-length practice tests, that is likely to result in diminishing returns. At that point, you need to be reviewing your tests more closely.Click To Tweet

[Related episode: 3 Biggest Mistakes When Preparing For the MCAT]

[03:40] The Average Number for a Well-Prepared MCAT Student

A good number of practice tests for a well-prepared MCAT student to take would be five or six. You take three from AAMC and another three from a prep company like Next Step. If you need to go beyond that, that’s fine. But if you’re reviewing them properly, there shouldn’t be any need to go past nine or ten tests.

[04:12] When to Know You’re Ready

How to know when you’re ready to take the MCAT basically depends on the student. Some students believe you should hit your dream MCAT score multiple times on the practice tests before you’re ready. This is a sort of hyper-ambitious view.

Other students simply look at the trend in their scores. If they see a solid upward trend, they know they’re learning from their practice tests, they’re headed in the right direction, and they’ve taken enough tests after about five or six.

[Related episode: When Can I and When Should I Register for the MCAT?]

Practice tests are the key to doing well on the MCAT.Click To Tweet

[05:11]  What If You Scored Very High on Your Diagnostic Test?

Even if you’re a student who started off with a very strong baseline (you scored high on your diagnostic test, you should still take all three AAMC practice tests and possibly cram with these three just in a couple of weeks. This ensures that your high diagnostic score was not a fluke, and it could help make you comfortable with the interface and totally at home with how the test is presented. Of course, after you’ve taken all three, go ahead and take the real test.

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