How Do The AAMC Practice Tests Compare To The Real MCAT In 2021?

Every pre-med student wants to know how they are going to do on the MCAT before taking it. We want some kind of metric that predicts how we are going to do on this monster of an exam. 

One would think that the official AAMC practice full-length tests should give us a general idea of how we will do on the real MCAT. After all, they are the creators of the exam.

Although you are not going to get 100% accuracy with the AAMC practice tests in predicting your real MCAT score, we have a pretty good idea of how we will fair based on how others have done in the past. We took surveys from premed students who purchased the AAMC practice MCAT full-length tests before taking the MCAT in order to see how their practice scores compared to their real scores. 

Is The Real MCAT Harder Than The AAMC  Practice Tests? (Survey)

First, we looked into whether or not the real MCAT was more difficult than the AAMC practice full-lengths. 

To most students, the real MCAT is harder than the AAMC practice tests. However, many premeds admit that this could be due to test-taking nerves. The high-pressure environment of the real deal compared to the more relaxed setting of a practice test can alter our perception of the exam.

We surveyed 20 premed students asking them if they thought the real MCAT was harder, about the same, or easier than the AAMC practice tests they took.

Here are the results.

Is The Real MCAT Harder Than The AAMC  Practice Tests

As you can see, most students felt that the real MCAT was more difficult. 

Was Your Actual MCAT Score Higher, Similar, Or Lower Than Your AAMC Practice Test scores? (Survey)

It’s important to remember that the MCAT is a standardized test, meaning your score is going to depend on how everyone else did taking your exam. Even if the real MCAT is more difficult than the AAMC practice tests, this doesn’t mean that the AAMC practice tests are not an accurate representation of the score you will receive. 

We surveyed 38 premed students to see how their real MCAT scores compared to their average AAMC practice test scores. Surprisingly, even though most premed students found the real MCAT to be harder than the practice tests, the majority scored higher or +/- 2 points of their average. 

Here are the results of the survey:

Was Your Actual MCAT Score Similar, Higher, Or Lower To Your AAMC Practice Test scores

The AAMC full-length tests are great predictors of how you will do on the real deal. 

Are The AAMC Practice Tests Scored Like The Real MCAT?

The AAMC practice MCAT tests are designed to mimic the actual MCAT with a scaled score and percentile rank. Unlike the real MCAT, the AAMC practice tests do not standardize your test score based on the way every premed student performed. Instead, they use their own data to give you as accurate a scoring model as possible.

When you take an AAMC practice test, you can use your score as a fair prediction of how you will do on the actual MCAT. As mentioned in the previous section, most premed students score the same or better on the real deal. 

Don’t simply rely on the data above to figure out how you will do on the MCAT! It’s important to study hard until the end. 

Is The CARS Section On The Real MCAT Harder Than The Practice AAMC Tests?

Much like the rest of the MCAT exam, people tend to do better on the CARS section of the real MCAT even though they felt like it was more difficult. 

What makes the CARS section of the MCAT unique is that it doesn’t require any scientific knowledge to do well on. The best way to do well on CARS is to do as many practice passages as possible. Practicing passages will help you develop the necessary skills to read quickly, understand what the author is trying to say, and figuring out how the AAMC test creators like to approach questions. 

Which AAMC Practice Test Is The Most Accurate In 2021?

Are the AAMC practice tests scored like the real MCAT

Students believe that the AAMC full-length practice test 3 is the most accurate predictor of the score you will receive on the real MCAT. This does depend though on your personal strengths and weaknesses when it comes to topics. Your best MCAT score prediction should not come from a single AAMC practice test but rather an average of all the AAMC practice tests. 

Also, most of the time students take the AAMC tests in order over a period of time. While studying and doing practice problems, ideally your score will increase over time. Therefore, it stands to reason that test number 3 will be a better representation of what your actual MCAT score will be. 

Which AAMC FL Practice exam is the hardest?

There is a lot of debate regarding which AAMC full-length (or FL) MCAT test is the most difficult. Really the only consensus on the matter is that FL 1 is the easiest. There is a 50/50 split regarding whether MCAT FL 2 or FL 3 is the most difficult. 

Then of course in late 2019 the AAMC released the new MCAT FL 4. This 4th practice MCAT also became a contender for the most difficult AAMC MCAT practice test. 

In my opinion, FL 3 was the most difficult exam. 

When Should You Take AAMC Practice Tests?

You want to take the AAMC practice tests towards the END of your MCAT studying. This is very important, the AAMC tests are the closest resemblance to the actual MCAT there is. You want to make sure the questions from these tests are fresh on your mind when taking the MCAT. 

Don’t expect any recycled questions, but the style will be similar to the actual exam. Having done the AAMC FLs soon before the MCAT will make the real MCAT feel less foreign to you.

At Med School Pursuit, we recommend doing lots and lots of practice tests. Unfortunately, there are only 4 AAMC practice tests so you will need to supplement the rest with 3rd party company tests. 

There are a lot of really great 3rd party MCAT practice exams, that you should take. Our recommendation: Blueprint (formally NextStep). Just make sure you do those before the AAMC tests. 

Is NextStep Harder Than AAMC FL MCAT Tests?

Yes, NextStep (now known as Blueprint) practice tests are more difficult than the AAMC FL practice tests. Generally speaking, people score lower on NextStep’s practice tests as well. 

Ideally, the difficulty would be the same, however, most people would agree that it’s better for an MCAT practice test to be harder as opposed to easier. You want to challenge yourself so that you can learn more and become conditioned for the real MCAT. 

Is The Actual AAMC MCAT Easier Than Kaplan?

If you have taken a Kaplan MCAT practice test before, you know that they tend to be challenging. Luckily, from my personal experience and what other premeds have said, I can tell you that the Kaplan MCAT practice tests tend to be harder than the real deal.

What Are The Best MCAT Practice Tests?

The best MCAT practice tests available on the market are the AAMC Full-length practice tests. These tests are made by the creators of the exam and cannot be beaten. The verbiage of the AAMC FLs is on par with the real MCAT. 

There are currently 4 AAMC FL tests. All of them are great. AAMC also has what they call a “sample test.” This is another full-length MCAT exam, however, this particular one is not scored and quality-wise not as great as the others. 

Their sample test was made when the 2015 MCAT was new and the structure of it had not quite matured. 

Unfortunately, 4 MCAT practice tests are not enough. You should take more.

Here is a list of the next best resources AFTER the AAMC FLs:

  • AAMC section banks
    • Technically not a FL but same style questions. You can create a “custom exam” with the questions from the banks. 
  • AAMC Official Guide Online Questions
    • This is technically only a half MCAT exam but still a great resource. 
  • Blueprint (Formally NextStep)
    • These are my favorite 3rd party MCAT practice exams. These are the closest you will get to the AAMC material.
  • ExamKrackers
    • A close second to Blueprint
  • Kaplan and The Princeton Review
    • These are very similar in quality so I ranked them the same. 
  • AAMC Question Packs
    • The AAMC makes question packs for Biology, Chemistry, CARS, and Physics. I ranked these lower because they are technically recycled from the old exam and therefore not as great of a resourrce as a 3rd party MCAT company. 

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