The MCAT is one of the biggest beasts on the premed path. Our question today is from someone asking if they should take a prep course to help them with their MCAT score.
Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.
[02:24] OldPreMeds Question of the Week
As usual on the OldPreMeds Podcast, our question is taken from the Nontrad Premed Forum:
“I just finished up my prereqs, or most anyway. I’m going into my studying for a spring MCAT (April/May) while working full-time. I’m pretty overwhelmed with the course options out there and would love to hear feedback on what to invest in time- and money-wise. Courses I’ve taken: bio 1 and 2, gen chem 1 and 2, physics 1 and 2, o-chem 1 and 2, biochem 1 semester, cell and molecular bio 1 semester.”
Note: One thing that I notice missing from this list is psychology and sociology. But let’s continue with the question:
“I would be interested in a live online course or self-paced course. But my hesitation is that the course alone will take 6-9 hours of study time out of my week, which is significant given my work and commute schedule. However, I wouldn’t know where to start in making my own schedule.”'I'm pretty overwhelmed with the MCAT course options out there and would love to hear feedback on what to invest in time- and money-wise.'Click To Tweet
[04:10] Pros and Cons of Taking an MCAT Prep Course
A good MCAT course will give you structure and a schedule to make sure you’re prepared for your test. That said, there are a couple ways to go.
First, listen to The MCAT Podcast. In one of the episodes, we covered things like whether you should take an MCAT prep course or not. We also covered study groups and how good they can be. Maybe you can find a study group to help you without a course.At the end of the day, an MCAT prep course is only as good as the time and effort that you put into it.Click To Tweet
The comment this poster said, specifically, “My hesitation is that the course alone will take 6-9 hours of study time out of my week.” With this attitude, if you bought a course, it sounds like you’re not going to really invest your time in the course because you’re going to be worried about the rest of your study time.
[05:10] Blueprint MCAT (formerly Next Step Test Prep) MCAT Course
Nevertheless, an MCAT course is a great investment if you are going to take it seriously. Recently, I did a review of the Next Step MCAT Course, which I think is the best course available.
Having had a great relationship with Next Step for the longest time, I’ve found feedback to be overwhelmingly positive, except for their books. In the past, the Next Step books had some typos and just weren’t great. But they’ve also just updated their books. So this should no longer be a problem moving forward.Having had a great relationship with Next Step for the longest time, I've found feedback to be overwhelmingly positive.Click To Tweet
[Related post: Best MCAT Prep Course (with a Promo Code).]
[06:10] MCAT Study Schedule Planning Tool
Blueprint MCAT (formerly Next Step Test Prep) has built into their course a study schedule planning tool. Simply enter the date of your test, the day you’re beginning your MCAT prep, and which days you can’t study.
You can also indicate the days you want to take your full-length practice tests (it takes most of the day). And this planning tool will allow you to generate a study schedule you can follow.
If you fall behind a day, simply click and drag the assignment that you can’t complete to the next day. Then go on from there.
[07:02] Other Amazing Things You Get from Next Step’s Online Course
With Next Step’s online course, you also get 100+ hours of recorded video. You get access to all the AAMC materials, as well as Next Step’s books and practice tests.Students tell me that Next Step's practice tests are the best outside of the AAMC's for accuracy of difficulty and score reporting.Click To Tweet
Plus, you get access to two hours of live office hours five days a week. These office hours usually cover a particular subject. Sometimes it’s just an open Q&A and you get to ask questions. Get the benefit of having a tutor there, five days a week, in two-hour blocks, every day. Not only will you get access, but it’s also a self-paced course. Hence, you get the best of both worlds.
Next Step’s course is also cheaper than any of the other companies. It costs $1,599. Comparing it to other courses, Kaplan’s is almost $2,500, for instance. What’s more, you get $50 off by using the promo code “MSHQ.”
[09:25] So, Should You Get an MCAT Course?
It sounds like this poster’s plan is good. April/May is a great time to take the MCAT. Working full-time while studying for the MCAT is going to be hard.
Just understand that during these several months, you’re going to also need to write your personal statement and extracurriculars. You need to get your letters of recommendation in, as well. So make sure you carve out some time for that. You can make it happen.
Links and Other Resources
- Check out my book about the MCAT, co-written with Blueprint MCAT (formerly Next Step Test Prep): The Premed Playbook: Guide to the MCAT.
- Related episode: MCAT Prep on Any Budget (Should I Spend $3,000?).
- Related episode: Is One-on-One Tutoring for the MCAT Worth It?
- Need MCAT Prep? Save on tutoring, classes, and full-length practice tests by using promo code “MSHQ” for 10% off Next Step full-length practice tests or “MSHQTOC” for $50 off MCAT tutoring or the Next Step MCAT Course at Blueprint MCAT (formerly Next Step Test Prep)!