The one thing every MCAT test taker can agree on is that the AAMC practice material is the best on the market. You simply must practice with their material at some point during your MCAT studies if you want to do well.
But what about the question packs?
The AAMC’s question packs feel different than their other practice material so it makes one question their accuracy to the real exam.
The good news is that the AAMC question packs are not a waste of time. They are actually pretty helpful. I’ll explain why in this blog post.
What’s Included In The AAMC Question Packs?
First, let’s briefly go over what is included in the AAMC question packs because honestly, it’s a lot. The question pack bundle includes the following:
- 2 Biology Question Packs
- 1 Chemistry Question Pack
- 1 Physics Question Pack
- 2 CARS Question Packs
Each question pack contains 120 questions. That’s 720 questions total!
The questions are in the same format as the actual MCAT. They also provide explanations for the answers.
Accuracy To The Real MCAT
The AAMC question packs come from the pre-2015 MCAT tests. The AAMC basically took the old questions that were relevant to the new MCAT and repackaged them.
For those unfamiliar with the old MCAT, the test was considerably different. When they designed the new MCAT they focused their efforts on producing passages that challenged your critical thinking skills as opposed to pure recall of information.
The passages from the new MCAT read much like a scientific article. You decipher the information in the article with an understanding of the basic sciences to answer the questions. Therefore, pure memorization is much less important on the post-2015 MCAT.
This is different than the old MCAT which relies heavily on memory recall from the content you studied.
Therefore, the question pack questions are not that accurate to the actual MCAT. These questions are better for content review than actual practice for the MCAT. We recommend doing these questions earlier on in your MCAT prep.
The one exception is CARS. The CARS section on the post-2015 MCAT didn’t really change that much. Thus, the CARS question packs are very relatable and by far the best question packs available.
AAMC Question Pack Difficulty
As one would expect, the question packs are relatively easy. Again, they are based on the pre-2015 MCAT so there wasn’t as much critical thinking involved.
If you know your stuff, you can score well.
The new MCAT is designed so that simply studying the material is not enough. You need to use your knowledge of basic sciences and reasoning to answer questions based on complex articles and graphs.
Ironically, there is actually less content knowledge needed on the new MCAT.
That’s why our study methodology involves lots and lots of practice tests. You can only get better at the MCAT if you are constantly challenging yourself with practice problems. With plenty of practice, you will feel confident reading complex passages.
How To Review AAMC Question Packs
Just like reviewing any other MCAT practice test, you want to make sure you are reviewing effectively to maximize studying.
We wrote a complete guide on how to properly review MCAT tests, but here are the main takeaways:
- Make sure you are reviewing questions you got right in addition to the ones you got wrong
- Return to your MCAT content books to reference topics you still struggle with
- Keep track of problems you had struggled with to review trends later
- Make flashcards on concepts you missed
Section Bank Vs Question Packs
Compared to the questions packs, the section banks are very graph-heavy. They use complex figures that you have to decipher in order to answer questions.
This is exactly the way the new MCAT challenges you.
Therefore, the section banks are better practice for the MCAT than the question packs.
There isn’t a section bank for CARS but that is okay because the CARS question packs make up for this. As I mentioned earlier, the CARS section didn’t really change from the old MCAT to the new so it’s fine to use the outdated CARS questions.
Conclusion: Should You Do The AAMC Question Packs Or Are They A Waste Of Time?
The AAMC question packs are not a waste of time. I personally used them to study and believe they are good practice.
After reading this article, I hope I made it clear that these question packs shouldn’t be used late in your study period when you need accurate MCAT questions. Instead, use the AAMC question packs to reinforce your content review.