Before going for a test, it is best to have some test prep so you can score for the test. When it comes to the MCAT, many students can agree that preparing for the MCAT test can be a headache. Matter of fact, most students are intimidated by the MCAT exam which makes sense because it can be overwhelming.
But fear not, with the best MCAT practice tests, you will be able to prepare yourself for the real exam and feel like a champ once you ace it. However, finding the best MCAT practice tests can be a slight challenge for most students which is why we have compiled a list of the best MCAT practice tests that students find to be helpful.
The purpose of this guide is to help you search for the best MCAT practice tests and to guide you about the things to consider before doing the MCAT practice test.
Is The MCAT Difficult?
Now, let’s have a look at the difficulty of the MCAT test first. It would be a lie to say that the MCAT test is easy because it really is not. First of all, the MCAT exam is hard, time-consuming and most importantly, challenging.
The MCAT isn’t like what you’ve always done in your typical classes. To really understand why the MCAT is so difficult, we’ll have to take a look at what MCAT really is.
What Is MCAT?
MCAT is short for Medical College Admission Test and the MCAT exam is made and developed by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). This test is done in various testing centers all over the United States and Canada.
The MCAT exam is a computer-based examination that consists of 230 multiple choice questions which is divided into four sections. The four sections are as follows:
- Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems (59 questions, 95 minutes)
- Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems (59 questions, 95 minutes)
- Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior (59 questions, 95 minutes)
- Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (53 questions, 90 minutes)
The questions require you to analyze carefully and use your critical thinking skills because it is heavily science-based so it is more than just memorizing ideas and concepts that you learned in the pre-med courses. The MCAT examines your competency and mastery of those subjects which is important before you enter a medical school.
Questions in the MCAT exam will not ask you simple concepts like identifying something. Instead, the questions that you will need to answer are passage-based with a minority of stand-alone questions. This is also the reason that this test is different from the rest.
The MCAT wants you to integrate information and provide answers based on what you understand from the passages and questions. It is also the reason that the MCAT is challenging. However, you do get a long duration to finish it as compared to most of the standardized tests.
The total time taken for the exam is 7 hours and a half and the time for the tests takes 6 hours and 15 minutes. The duration of the exam is extremely long and physically and mentally taxing. Even though so much time is given, some students still fail to complete the sections, especially the CARS section.
Just imagine, 4 years of pre-med concluded in 7 hours and a half, it would feel as though your future depends on this one score. Hence, the reason why students go through an intense process to prepare themselves by reviewing the content of the MCAT and conditioning their minds to get used to test-like conditions.
Truth be told, revising what you have learned in the past 4 years is not going to be enough to ace the MCAT. Working hard is not enough, you need to work smart too. Which is why there are MCAT practice tests.
Why Are Doing Practice Tests Important?
Now, we’ve mentioned that reviewing what you’ve learned is not going to be enough and you’ll need to work smart to ace the MCAT. But, is doing MCAT practice tests working smart? Is it important to do the practice tests?
Yes. Doing MCAT practice tests is important and is a way of working smart only if you’re doing it correctly and effectively. However, in order to effectively study for the MCAT, you will have to choose the right MCAT practice tests because not all of them are going to help you ace the MCAT. Keep reading to find out how you can choose the right MCAT practice tests.
How To Choose The Best MCAT Practice Tests?
Choosing the best MCAT practice tests to practice is the key to making or breaking your score and it is important that you know how to choose the best one.
The first thing you want to look at is the cost of the MCAT practice tests. You are already paying $315 to $370 for the MCAT registration so you should be mindful about the cost of the practice tests.
Normally, most of the companies will offer one free test and they will start charging a certain amount after the free practice test. However, there are some companies that don’t offer a free practice test. So make sure you see properly when searching for the best MCAT practice tests.
The last thing you want is going broke doing MCAT practice tests so be sure to check out the price of each company.
The next thing that you should look at when you are searching for the best MCAT practice tests is the quality of content in them. Pretty sure you wouldn’t want to pay so much for the MCAT exam and the practice tests to end up failing the test.
Make sure the quality of content of the MCAT practice tests are good by looking at their reviews before you purchase the practice tests from any company. There’s no point going into an exam unprepared especially when you paid more than 300 dollars for it and the best way to prepare yourself comes from practicing quality content practice tests.
Remember, the MCAT consists of more passage-based questions than standalone questions so find the practice tests that get you ready for it. You should also train to think quickly under pressure and quality MCAT practice tests are made to let you train yourself in that way.
The final thing to consider when choosing the best MCAT practice tests is how easy it is to access the practice tests. You only have a limited time to practice for the test and there’s no point spending more time trying to access a practice test than practicing the test itself.
It’s important that you can easily get access to the MCAT practice tests so you can have more time preparing yourself. Additionally, other factors that determine whether a practice test is easy to access or not are the interface of the online platform, how well-organized is the system and whether you are allowed to retake the tests.
How To Review Your MCAT Practice Tests?
Just completing the MCAT practice tests is not enough to help you ace it. How you use and review the practice tests are also important. Generally, there are three stages when preparing for your MCAT and they are: 1) Content review; 2) Doing practice tests; 3) Review the questions on the practice tests.
While the process might seem simple, it is advisable to go through the stages 2 to 3 times to make sure you are fully prepared for the MCAT. Some students would review the content over a span of a few months and leave the practice tests to the last because they feel like they are unready.
Unfortunately, when students do that and start spamming the practice exams, they realize that they don’t have enough time left before the MCAT and they are not ready for the real thing. Going through the stages several times gives you room for improvement.
It is normal to go through the content, take the full-length MCAT practice tests and feel dissatisfied with your result. However, that doesn’t mean you should give up. Keep your head up and go through the stages one more time and work on the things that you need to improve on.
The Best MCAT Practice Test
Now that you have a better idea of how to prepare for the MCAT, we can now move on to the list of best MCAT practice tests that you should use.
1. Blueprint (NextStep)
The first MCAT practice test is the Blueprint or otherwise known as Next Step. Blueprint offers an incredible online platform interface that is similar to the MCAT. Blueprint offers multiple practice test bundles and also six months access to the full-length MCAT practice tests. Besides AAMC itself, the next MCAT practice test that students prefer would be Blueprint.
For those that want a realistic expectation of their MCAT score, then Blueprint might not be the one for them because it underestimates your score by a few points. The questions are overkill because it’s more difficult than the actual test but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. This is because, if you can score well doing the Blueprint MCAT practice tests, then you can definitely score just as well, if not, better in the actual thing.
Although the science sections are a lot harder than the real test, the psychology sections by Blueprint aren’t that bad. Another reason that Blueprint gives one of the best MCAT practice tests is that they have up to 4,000 questions in their database. Plus, after taking the MCAT practice test, they provide full answers and explanations which is what a student would appreciate.
2. Princeton Review
Another top MCAT practice test other than the AAMC are the Princeton Review MCAT practice tests. You won’t be able to get any free practice tests with Princeton Review but if you bought the prep book from them, you will be entitled to 4 full-length MCAT practice tests.
The content in the Prince Review MCAT practice tests are similar to another company known as Kaplan which are mostly passages that are information-based. However, seeing how AAMC is moving towards experimental passages, the Princeton Review MCAT practice tests might not be fully relevant in the near future. Nevertheless, they still offer decent content and you can get some practice doing different types of questions.
A downside about the Princeton Review MCAT practice tests is their interface. Compared to what other companies are offering, it is definitely below par and not user-friendly. If you’re in a rush to do as many practice tests as possible then this would not be highly recommended because you’ll need some time to get used to it. However, if you’ve done almost all the other MCAT practice tests by other companies, then, by all means, go ahead and try the Princeton Review.
What better way to practice for the MCAT than taking MCAT practice tests from the creator of MCAT itself, AAMC which is also short for the Association of American Medical Colleges. It is without any doubt that AAMC provides the best MCAT practice tests and no one company can compete with them.
The AAMC MCAT practice test is the top because it would reflect the contents of the actual MCAT exam most accurately. Being able to do well for the AAMC MCAT practice test means you will most likely do well for the MCAT exam. Don’t let the AAMC practice tests go to waste because they are the key to you scoring well in the exam.
You might be wondering how to not let the AAMC practice test go to waste. Well, for starters, make sure you are fully prepared to the best of your abilities before doing the practice tests. Additionally, appreciate every practice test that you do and treat it like your treasure.
Another way to make sure that the practice tests do not go to waste is to review them rigorously because one of their downsides is that they have very limited practice exams. A piece of advice would be to do them alternately so that you don’t use up your treasure before the MCAT exam.
Even though there are limited practice exams from AAMC, there are some products that you might be interested in. The products are as follows:
- Sample Test (full-length practice tests but with no score)
- Online Flashcards
- Online Official Prep Questions from the Official Guide
- Section Banks
- Question Packs (consist 4 sections: two biology, two CARS, one chem, one physics)
- A bundle for all of the above
Most students have the tendency to disregard enhancing their critical reasoning skills and unfortunately, MCAT assesses it heavily. Luckily, the question packs that AAMC is offering gives a good amount of CARS practice.
4. Berkeley Review
Berkeley Review offers some of the best MCAT practice tests but there are also some aspects about it that don’t make them so great. To begin, let’s talk about their science sections first. They are not exactly the greatest compared to some other tests out there and it’s the same thing for their experimental passages.
They also offer explanations for the questions but the explanations are taken directly and word for word from their own prep books. Unfortunately, they do not offer any prep books for the psychology and sociology sections. As a result, we would say that their sociology and psychology sections aren’t so good and other practice exams would be better.
Since time is of the essence when preparing for the MCAT, you might not like how inconvenient it is to buy and use their MCAT practice tests. The process involves troublesome faxing and mailing which is something that others don’t do anymore. Also, the account that you create lasts for 40 days only. Nonetheless, you can still get some practice from them if you’re running out of practice tests to do.
5. ExamKrackers (EK)
ExamKrackers practice MCAT is another practice test that focuses on critical reasoning skills in the CARS section of the MCAT exam. However, as a result of that, some students may find it difficult and challenging but that’s the point of a practice test, to be better. In addition, EK is also great in their experimental passages and concepts.
You shouldn’t be surprised to see their explanations coming from their own books because EK is known for relying on their textbooks. If you decide to do EK tests, then it would be highly recommended to do their third and fourth full-length MCAT practice tests. This is to make sure you are getting a variety of practice and the EK 3 and 4 are good practice tests.
One of the downsides of EK is that there are no free products. The cost per practice test is about $40 but on the bright side, you are getting value for your money. If your budget is more flexible then, by all means, buy more full-length MCAT practice tests but just don’t purchase everything from the bundle and try to diversify.
One more minor flaw about EK is the format of their test is not exactly the same as the actual MCAT exam. Nonetheless, the content is still good and it is recommended that you get the MCAT practice test from them.
The Kaplan MCAT practice test is great for students that prefer to have more options because Kaplan offers various MCAT practice test bundles. Each question from the Kaplan MCAT practice test adapts to what you are capable of so you can keep improving. One of their best MCAT practice test bundles would be their 3 full-length MCAT practice tests bundle.
The 3 full-lengths are good enough because it contains more than 2,900 practice questions and their interface is not hard to get used to so it’ll work just fine. However, if you feel like you want more from Kaplan, they are also offering other bundles like the Platinum MCAT practice test bundle.
Kaplan offers this Platinum bundle with 6 MCAT practice tests and a 7-book set with tips on MCAT preparation and each question type. The content of its MCAT practice test covers the foundations of critical analysis and reasoning skills, psychology, biology, sociology, biochemistry, organic chemistry, general chemistry and physics.
A detailed score report and access to videos regarding MCAT are also included as well for the Platinum bundle. Hence, the reason why we think that Kaplan is worth purchasing.
7. Gold Standard
Gold Standard offers an MCAT prep program that consists of full-length practice tests in accordance with the AAMC format. Although they are named Gold Standard, their prices for the MCAT practice tests don’t exactly reflect it. Each MCAT practice test by Gold Standard costs only $10-$20 which is relatively lower than other MCAT prep available.
Although Gold Standard isn’t as good as some other MCAT practice test providers, it is still decent for the price that it’s offered at. What you receive from their MCAT practice test bundles is more than just practice test questions, you are also getting detailed explanations and online access to answers and solutions.
Everything about Gold Standard is nothing too impressive but not too bad either. In other words, it’s somewhere in the middle but their name can be slightly misleading because it doesn’t really live up to it.
If you want an MCAT practice test with good experimental passages then Altius would definitely satisfy you. However, their CARS section is not that great so overall, it is average only. You should also note that their science section is quite difficult but it never hurts to step out of your comfort zone. To get access to their MCAT practice exams, it will be $40 per practice exam.
They do offer free tests but it’s only half the test so it’s not exactly free anyways. However, you’ll want to get as much free practice as possible so, by the time you’re done with other MCAT practice exams, you can start looking at Altius. Once you’ve hit a plateau, you’ll find new changes to be helpful in working on your strengths and weaknesses and that’s when Altius will be helpful.
9. Sterling Test
The Sterling Test isn’t one that is highly recommended by us or any student that went through the MCAT and the MCAT prep. Yes, they are cheaper than most of the MCAT practice exams out there but the problem with them is that they tend to reuse and recycle questions from their previous MCAT prep books.
They aren’t the ideal MCAT prep providers to go to for improving your critical analysis and reasoning or to help find your strengths and weaknesses but they are one of the considerable options if you haven’t completed all the practice exams.
10. McGraw Hill
Last but not the least, we have McGraw Hill. They are not popular for making MCAT practice tests and is also the reason why they are very cheap. The McGraw Hill MCAT prep comes with 3 full-length exams that are made to be as close as possible to the actual thing. However, they do lack the element of analyzing the question and as a result, students tend to overestimate their MCAT score.
Additionally, McGraw Hill is also inclusive of strategies that will aid you on test day and if you’ve done all of the good practice exams that we’ve mentioned, then it would be worth taking MCAT practice tests from McGraw Hill. On the other hand, if you’re in a rush for this test prep, then we would not recommend doing this.
FAQ on Best Practice Tests for MCAT
How many MCAT practice tests should I take?
For an effective test prep, it is advisable to do at least 5 full-lengths that mimic the conditions of a real MCAT exam. You should do these full-lengths as if you’re taking the MCAT itself to properly estimate your MCAT score.
As a general guide, you can start in the morning around 8.30 or 9 A.M, then take a break in between each section, read the passages thoroughly and analyze it carefully then answer each question with all your brainpower because that’s how you’ll feel when you take the MCAT. Apart from the full-lengths, we would recommend you to do some half tests as well.
Based on our observations, most students would want to do 10 practice exams from different providers and they would prefer if they were different lengths. This is actually a great way to prepare for the MCAT because you shouldn’t be doing practice exams from a single MCAT practice provider.
The reason behind it is because you want to have diversity in your practice tests since each company approaches the practice exams differently. There are some that are incredible in the CARS section, some have more high-yield passages and questions, while some give a better reflection of the content in the actual exam.
When should I start taking practice tests?
When to start taking practice tests will depend on your personal strategy so there isn’t a specific timeline that you need to follow. Each student has their own strategy which they feel is the most effective test prep so we would recommend that you start taking practice tests based on your own strategy. However, there is a general guide as to when you should begin doing the MCAT practice test.
The first step before you start to practice MCAT tests is to take a diagnostic test. When we say take a diagnostic test, it means doing a test before you start studying and when you take the diagnostic test, don’t worry about the result. The point of a diagnostic test is to give you a base to work on. By identifying your weaknesses when you take the diagnostic test, you can work on them and improve.
The next step after diagnosis isn’t to immediately begin studying. Instead, you should come up with a study plan. Your study plan isn’t just what you are going to study but it should include a study schedule as well. In your study plan, you should also include study breaks so you don’t overwork yourself.
After coming up with your study plan, it is time for you to start taking MCAT practice tests. Doing the MCAT practice tests should be part of your study plan and once you have your study plan laid out properly, you can begin the practice as soon as possible but not before that.
Other than just doing the MCAT practice tests and getting an estimated MCAT score, you should also review it thoroughly. To review a practice test isn’t something that can be done in a day or two, it will take up to a week or even up to 2 weeks. It also can’t be done properly if you were doing the practice test with the answers showing.
What should I do if I don’t feel ready to take the MCAT practice tests?
Well, let’s be honest. No one is really ready to take any tests because we’d feel as though there is still something that we don’t know. However, it shouldn’t stop you from taking it. To help get yourself ready to take the practice tests, the best way is to just get the first MCAT practice out of the way because that would just be a diagnostic.
It’s normal to think that you’re not ready for the MCAT exam and that’s not a problem at all. The whole point of MCAT is to assess your application of knowledge, the way you read and think and also how you deal with stress.
To be fully ready to take the practice tests you’ll have to know all the things you need to know and apply that knowledge. However, there’s no 100% when it comes to this unless you’re a genius or a prodigy so don’t feel stressed out because of it and just get it going. Review after every test and improve from there which is the whole point of a test prep.