Prepping for the MCAT on a Budget

Between tuition, MCAT registration and review materials, and application costs, the path to becoming a physician can be an expensive one. This guide will direct you to free or affordable resources, and hopefully, dispel the idea that more is always better. 

Choosing Materials

There’s an ever-increasing amount of MCAT prep materials. Your anxiety and desperation to do well can make it seem like you need all of these materials. You’ll never use all of them, and being overwhelmed by choice won’t make you a better student. Use what you’ve learned throughout your education to assess how you learn best and what resources will support you in that. I would advise choosing one set of books and sticking with those. 

If you want to use other 3rd-party materials, choose one other resource instead of using ten different video series. If you thrive in the accountability of a set course, check out Blueprint MCAT’s Live Online Course. They run frequent sales, so make an account and watch your email inbox for discounts. You will want to budget for at least some of the AAMC prep materials and their practice tests in particular. Luckily, the cost is covered for you if you qualify for the Fee Assistance Program.

Fee Assistance Program

The AAMC offers a Fee Assistance Program (FAP) designed to help students pay for MCAT registration, prep, and application fees. The application asks for your household’s income level to determine if you qualify. Anyone with a US address can be eligible, regardless of citizenship or visa status. They also removed the requirement for parents’ income for students who are 26 and older. You can read more about the qualifications and policies on their website

If you qualify, you receive reduced MCAT registration cost, free access to AAMC MCAT prep materials, access to MSAR for two years, and covered primary application fees for up to 20 schools. Whether secondary application fees are also covered depends on the school, but many do waive the fee for FAP recipients. To find out which ones do, you can look on their website or MSAR. 


Free and Affordable MCAT Prep Materials

Blueprint MCAT Free Account

While Blueprint offers great live and self-paced courses for students who can afford them, they also provide many high-quality tools for every student through their free account. A free account with Blueprint gives you access to their study planner, flashcards, a half-length diagnostic, and their first full-length. Students generally rate Blueprint’s full-length exams as the closest to the actual MCAT, so they’re worth budgeting for if you’re able. Plus, they offer bundles and frequent sales that make their materials more accessible. 

MCAT Podcast 

The MCAT Podcast is a partnership between Blueprint and Medical School Headquarters that advises students on prepping for the MCAT in general, goes over specific strategies, and reviews Blueprint’s free full-length exam passage by passage. It’s a great starting point for students who know little to nothing about what the MCAT is or how to tackle it. Some recent episode topics include studying on a 4-6 month plan and common mistakes to avoid. There was also a recent overview of how to prepare for the MCAT. These episodes are a great starting point before diving into content review and practice. They’re also helpful if you’ve started your preparation and want to make sure you don’t hit any substantial road bumps. 

The Premed Playbook: Guide to the MCAT

For a deep dive on everything you need to know about what the MCAT is, preparing for the MCAT, and how to take it, you’ll want to read The Premed Playbook Guide to the MCAT. It even includes some practice questions in the back of the book and goes over how to tackle them. Many students struggle with strategy and this section of the MCAT book is an excellent introduction to MCAT logic. 

While the book isn’t free, it is very affordable and a resource worth having, in our opinion. 

Khan Academy Videos 

These can be an excellent resource for reviewing specific topics you struggle with. The AAMC practice tests link to relevant Khan Academy videos, simplifying which videos to choose. This course is not updated as regularly as other resources, so you may want to prioritize other resources for practice passages.

Youtube Videos

There are many other videos online that go over the topics on the MCAT, whether they’re explicitly geared toward test-takers or not. Keep in mind that not everything covered in your college science courses will be tested on the MCAT so that you may get some extra information reviewing this way.

There’s no one best educator online. Find someone whose style works well for you, but if you have a set of books or a course that works for you, don’t feel like you have to expand out to other videos. However, they can be a great resource if you need the extra review materials.