How Often Are MCAT Prep Resources Updated?

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OPM 240: How Often Are MCAT Prep Resources Updated?

Session 240

You purchased MCAT prep books, but decided to postpone the MCAT until next year. How long are your prep materials good for? Does the content change year-to-year?

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Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

[01:45] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

“Hi everyone,  I understand that the MCAT format changed in 2015 and there is shortened version being administered this year due to COVID-19. If I’m planning to take MCAT using all the free and paid resources, how old of MCAT material is too old?”

[02:03] Have a Solid Science Foundation

'The first mistake that students make when they're working on preparing for the MCAT is gathering too many books.'Click To Tweet

My original co-host on The MCAT Podcast named Brian from Next Step Test Prep (now Blueprint MCAT) used to call this “buy-another-book-itis” where premed students think they just need another book. And what students are actually missing is implementing the knowledge in the books they already have. 

The number one preparation for the MCAT is doing well in your courses. Have that solid science foundation because it’s one of the best ways to prepare for the MCAT. Remember that the MCAT is going to be a test, unlike any other tests you’ve ever taken and will ever take. 

Now a lot of students are asking about which is harder, the MCAT vs. USMLE Step 1? And I will stand by this that the MCAT is a harder test. Step 1 is a huge test. There’s a ton of material on it. But it’s straight-forward. Do you know it or do you not? Step 1 historically has had a lot more writing because of how well you do on Step 1 and placement for residences, etc. With Step 1 going pass/fail, we’ll see where that stands in the future. 

On the other hand, the MCAT is a test that’s unlike any other test you’re going to take. Therefore, you need to do practice tests to see how you’re going to do. 

[04:24] Focus on Practice Tests

The focus on the materials oftentimes overshadows the need to do practice tests. 

“One of the biggest mistakes is students focusing way too much on content review, and not enough on doing practice tests.”Click To Tweet

Now, you can get free practice tests from most of the major test prep companies out there. The AAMC is like the must-buy, unfortunately. Although AAMC’s response through this pandemic and everything else going on is discouraging. 

The AAMC has four scored tests and one unscored test. So go and buy their material first. If you only have a couple of hundred dollars for prep materials, I would start there. If you have a little bit more money, Blueprint MCAT tests are the next best tests to buy. You can get the first full length for free if you go to

[06:06] How Old is Too Old?

Anything after 2015 is fine, which means anything after the change of the MCAT. Now, I would probably look at 2016 or 2017 or later, because the first test was administered in April of 2015. 

You want to give the test prep companies a little bit of time to polish their materials. That way, we already have feedback from students who have taken it. And maybe some of their own test prep writers and content writers actually took the test. There are some loopholes in there where those people can actually take the test. So, now they know what’s on the test and how the changes are being implemented.

That being said, anything after 2017 is fine. Again, physics isn’t changing, chemistry isn’t changing. A lot of what changes year-to-year are going to be typo fixes. So you’re probably fine going and getting the resources. 

[07:54] Operation “Give the Books Back to Your Advisor”

I want to have a big push for students to stop selling their books. Give the books to your prehealth advisor. And let them give out the books to the next set of students getting ready to prepare for the MCAT. Somebody had to bite the bullet and buy the books in the first place. But I think that would be a great way to start giving back. It’s a better opportunity to give back to the world. 

'Stop selling the books and just give them to your prehealth advisor.'Click To Tweet


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